Archives For June 2014

Lance Stephenson?

Bo Churney —  June 10, 2014

In Zach Lowe’s super article today on Lance Stephenson, Lowe mentioned the Hawks as a potential landing spot for the unrestricted free agent.

This is not too surprising. After Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll, the Hawks have very little useful depth on the wing. This lack of depth led to Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams playing time at small forward, which represents a huge defensive liability for the Hawks.

Stephenson is a talented player. He can create offense for himself, has decent vision when it comes to play making, plus he possesses the athleticism and body size to be a defensive plus on the wing. Other positives with Stephenson are that he is only 23 and he has yet to play in an offensive system that even comes close to matching the dynamic offense run by Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks.

Of course, the question with Stephenson is not his talent, but his attitude and how much he should be paid. The Hawks could have around $10 million in cap space, which is within the possible range that Stephenson is expected to be paid this summer.

Would the Hawks front office, which models itself after the San Antonio Spurs, be willing to invest that amount of money in an enigmatic player? This front office let Josh Smith and Ivan Johnson, both somewhat volatile players, walk out in free agency. However, Smith and Johnson both filled a position that was not a completely dire need to the Hawks at the time. That is not the case at the wing with Stephenson. Because of Stephenson’s talent and super need on the wing, the Hawks should at least take a cursory glance toward the Pacer shooting guard during the offseason.

Shelvin Mack didn’t come into the 2013-14 season as a surefire second string point guard, but it certainly ended with him being one. Mack showed some good signs in his 20 games as a Hawk late last season after being picked up as a free agent, but seemingly held the third string position coming into this year with Atlanta’s drafting of import Dennis Schroder. The rookie struggled with transitioning to the NBA game, allowing Mack to step in and cement his role on the team. After five DNP-CD’s in the year’s first nine games, Mack went on to average 20.4 minutes over 73 games.

With all of Jeff Teague’s inconsistency this year, it was always a breath of fresh air whenever Mack checked into the game. Not because he’s a better player, but he’s one that you can expect to bring relatively the same thing every night out. It also doesn’t hurt that what he brought was solid shooting, few giveaways and the ability to play system defense.

The increase in playing time was quickly justified, as throughout the season Mack was as steady and reliable a backup as one could hope for. He ranked tenth among qualified point guards in assist-to-turnover ratio, as good a descriptor as any for his stability with the rock. Almost 30% of his possessions ended in an assist, a huge mark that’s a testament to his ability to a run an offense. Mack was rarely out of control with the ball in his hands, only forcing shots when the entirety of the team’s was stagnant or the shot clock was running down. Continue Reading…

As I began writing this review, I realized there was only one way to write about Paul Millsap. I decided to write in a way that reflected his style of play: creativity, finesse, and a subtle swagger. So without further ado, here is my first attempt at HawksHoop poetry.

Ode to Trillsap

Nine and a half million dollars
Makes you really want to holler
For the man we know as Paul.

He came in on a bargain
Quiet guy, not much jargon
Was just what we needed in Atlanta

A guy who is better than most
Dastardly good moves in the post
But wait! There’s more! He can shoot.

He could really stretch the floor
Creating space for Hor(ford)*
The season was starting quite well.

But then came the Cavs thriller
Big Al was sent to the chiller
An injury made Millsap the leader Continue Reading…

Elton Brand will returning for his 16th NBA season. After a very successful season with the Hawks, the 35 year old Brand wants to return for another season making sure young NBA players stay off his lawn.

Last season, for the Hawks, Brand had a very productive season averaging six points and four rebounds in 20 minutes per game. While Brand was never a major scoring threat, if Brand did have to score he did it in a fairly efficient manner with a true-shooting percentage of 56%. Where Brand really shined was on the defensive end; Brand was a solid rim protector who would occasionally swat shots away, allowing the Hawks faithful to tell players to get off Elton Brand’s lawn.

Brand will officially become a free agent once the season is over. The Hawks have currently not made any indications on if they will re-sign Brand and Brand has not made any comments on if he wants to return to Atlanta. However, after his usefulness with the team last season, it would be surprising if the two parties don’t at least consider a reunion.

If they had a most surprising rookie award, it would be very difficult to find a player less deserving of it than Hawks big man Pero Antic. This is not to say Antic being a good player was surprising; the Macedonian big man was very successful before joining the Hawks when he played over in Europe. He won a few individual awards and was a part of the Olympiacos back to back championships in 2012 and 2013.

While successful in Europe, the expectations for Antic weren’t massive. He was expected to mainly play defense and utilize his above average shooting ability on offense. However, he was clearly not expected to be a large part of a big man rotation that already featured Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Gustavo Ayon and Elton Brand. This is evident during November and December when Antic averaged 10-13 minutes a game.

During this stretch of time Antic played some solid ball. During December, Antic had an effective Field Goal percentage of 51% and was good enough on defense to when players like Horford would come out there wasn’t too much of a drop. Antic actually had a Net rating of +20 showing his effectiveness on the court when he did play during the early part of the season.

Continue Reading…