Doubtless you’ve read the post by esteemed colleague Michael Cunningham in which Larry Drew says he’s contemplating a lineup change for his Atlanta Hawks. Which sounds fine. But who should sit?
Drew has already made one lineup tweak, choosing to start Jason Collins at center and moving Al Horford to power forward. (Drew does this only on occasion, usually when Marvin Williams is out, which he often is.) This has helped bump up Horford’s scoring average by two points a game, but when you’ve got Collins as your center, somebody else had better shoot.
To say that minor alteration has galvanized the Hawks would be incorrect. They’re about the same, give or take, as they’ve been since Mike Bibby arrived in February 2008. Speaking of whom:
Some folks regard Bibby as the Hawks’ weakest starter and clamor for Jeff Teague. I would note that Teague’s workload has risen only two minutes a game from last season, and we don’t have Mike Woodson to kick around anymore. Apparently Drew is seeing the same things — or, perhaps more precisely, not seeing the same things — in Teague as did his predecessor. Which suggests that Teague might not be as good as Rick Sund had hoped.
Were I bent on changing the lineup, I wouldn’t dislodge Bibby, and I really don’t see the use of having Collins on the floor unless it’s to bang into Dwight Howard. (And last I checked, the Hawks don’t play Orlando every night.) And I like Jamal Crawford too much as a sixth man to make him a starter. But there is one starter who has long seemed, at least to me, better suited to be a sub, and that’s Marvin Williams.
Put Marvin on the court with Horford and Joe Johnson and Josh Smith and Bibby and he gets lost. He’s the fifth of five options. Put him on the court with the second unit and he becomes by default the No. 2 option behind Crawford. And it’s not that Marvin isn’t capable of making an imprint on games; it’s just that, for 5 1/2 puzzling seasons, he has been content to do the minimum.
When Drew first inserted Collins into the starting five — it was back in December against, wouldn’t you know, Orlando — Marvin was quoted afterward as saying he didn’t appreciate the demotion. It’s time for the Hawks to stop running him out there as a matter of course and expecting more and better. It’s time for this organization to change the dynamics of a career that hasn’t been dynamic.
Sit Marvin. Let Mo Evans serve as a place-holder in the starting lineup. Let Williams do as Crawford does: Enter the game midway through the first quarter. If Marvin doesn’t like the assignment, too bad. He has had long enough — far too long, truth to tell — to render himself indispensable to this first five, and he hasn’t done it.
One big season as North Carolina’s sixth man prompted Billy Knight to take Marvin No. 2 overall in 2005. The Hawks have lived with that lemon of a draft pick for more than half a decade, and they need to see if redeployment might yield lemonade. We’ve seen the extent of the status quo: The Hawks can win one playoff series and get swept in Round 2. And that, at this late date, is not enough.
By Mark Bradley