Archives For Analysis

There’s a common debate among bloggers, fans, media, and even in some front office circles. When should a young player be given more playing time? Many out there feel that a young player, once they show any kind of promise, should be given a lot of minutes; let them work out the kinks in a trial by fire setting. Only then will we know their worth. Others want them to earn every single minute they play. If they want to play then they have to beat out that guy in front of them no matter the skill level. Obviously both of these feel like extremes. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

During the 2013 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected Dennis Schröder. This pick excited Hawks fans. Those not happy with Jeff Teague’s play, so far in his career, claimed Schröder could be the point guard of the future in three years. After a strong summer league, this only got fans even more excited. To make things even better, Schröder had a strong beginning to the season. Unfortunately for him, that strong play didn’t continue.

As Schröder’s play faltered, another player rose. Journeyman Shelvin Mack began to outplay Schröder on a nightly basis. Mack never turned the ball over and was a consistent player, something the Hawks lacked. This left the team with a decision, do they go with trial by fire for the young rookie, or the consistent veteran where they had an idea of what they would be getting, production wise? Continue Reading…

On July 27th, Paul Millsap was added to Team USA’s provisional roster due to players like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and LaMarcus Aldridge deciding to forgo participation in the FIBA World Cup this summer.

Little more than a week later, Millsap was announced as one of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s first round of cuts, along with Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal. Among those selected over Millsap were Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee.

At the time, there was not too much of a problem with this. Even with Paul George’s gruesome injury, the lynchpin for Team USA seemed to be one thing: they still had Kevin Durant. The problem with this thinking today is that the team no longer has Durant to rely on.

It was announced on Thursday that Durant would withdraw from Team USA participation, citing mental and physical exhaustion. While there is some speculation that this might have something to do with Durant being offered a $300+ million endorsement deal with Under Armour, there is plenty of merit for Durant needing some time off. Continue Reading…

L.A. Times and Basketball Insiders writer (and HawksHoop go-to fact checker) Eric Pincus tweeted yesterday that the Hawks still have up to $9.4 million in potential cap space since contracts for Shelvin Mack, Mike Scott and Kent Bazemore have been agreed to but not finalized:

Pincus further elaborated that if the Hawks sign a player into the $9.4 million in available cap space, the team could then exceed the cap to sign Mack and Scott, since Atlanta holds their “early” Bird rights. The Hawks would then be able to further exceed the cap by signing Bazemore using the “room” exception. Pincus said this is not only what the Hawks can do, it’s what the team should do:

“They’re best signing all three after using their cap room,” Pincus tweeted. Continue Reading…

With various frontcourt stars withdrawing their names from consideration for the USA national basketball team, Atlanta Hawks all-star Paul Millsap has gotten his name put up as a candidate for a roster spot in the FIBA World Cup.

“Paul has prior experience at the National Team level having participated in the 2009 National Team mini-camp and offers us veteran inside player who possesses attributes that can be beneficial for us,” said USA National Basketball team director Jerry Colangelo.

Millsap, 29, is not the only member of the Hawks getting looked at for a spot on the roster. Teammate Kyle Korver is also receiving consideration.

Neither Millsap, nor Korver were seen as potential members of team USA. Both lacking “star power” and usual athleticism that Team USA necessitates, they were seen as surplus in NBA fans minds, but Team USA knows what they are doing. Continue Reading…

During the NBA Draft, if you knew which writers to follow on Twitter you saw most of the picks leaked minutes before they were announced on the live TV broadcast. Then came the Hawks’ pick at 15:

*crickets*

This has become Danny Ferry’s modus operandi for conducting business. I’ve joked about it in the past, comparing the levels of secrecy in the Hawks’ front office to the CIA. For contrast, think back to the rumor that the Knicks might be willing to trade Carmelo Anthony to the L.A. Clippers for Blake Griffin. This is what’s known as a “trial balloon.” You float a rumor out there to see how people react to it, but maintain deniability that you were the source of the rumor.

Doc Rivers, the coach and GM of the Clippers, who would have final say, called the idea that he would trade Griffin “ridiculous.” Within hours, Anthony was quoted parroting Rivers, likewise labeling the prevailing trade rumors “ridiculous.” Hmm, let’s see. Anthony is a Creative Artists Agency client. Knicks GM Steve Mills is a CAA client. Before Mike Woodson took the Knicks job, he fired his longtime agent so that he could become a CAA client. Where do you think the Carmelo-for-Blake rumor came from? But Carmelo denies such “ridiculous” rumors came from his camp. Riiight. Continue Reading…

Without question, Al Horford is one of the best 25 players in the NBA. He can score efficiently, defend all over the floor, rebound on both ends, and pass and handle the ball like a guard. He does all of these things at such an exceptional level that he is a mismatch against nearly every team in the NBA.

Despite that versatility, many veteran basketball watchers still want to pigeon-hole the 6-foot-10 Horford as a power forward instead of a center because of his size. “Power forward is his natural position” is what is often said in this argument.

One that thing often gets buried in that argument is the type of center that people would put next to Horford. “Horford would be great with a rim-protecting type of center” is among sentiments that are heard a lot.

And that line of thought is not necessarily wrong. Horford would be GREAT playing next to a center like Marc Gasol or Roy Hibbert. These players possess unique talent and Horford is a good enough talent that is assumed that he would be great next to these guys.

However, a lot of Horford’s success at center comes from the disadvantages he forces on his opponents; Horford is quick, he runs the floor well, he’s strong, and he’s exceptional at spacing the floor. Because of these attributes, a team can put any type of power forward next to him and the team will likely be better off because of it. For example, both Josh Smith and Paul Millsap have excelled as Horford’s pair because of the space he provides. Continue Reading…

Grantland’s Zach Lowe has declared the Atlanta Hawks among the losers in this year’s off-season, citing the team’s inability to attract a major piece despite plenty of available cap space:

No one will take Atlanta’s money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won’t even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta’s lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.

Contrarian that I am, I disagree with Lowe and almost everybody else about Atlanta’s off-season. Before I explain, I feel compelled to point out that the Hawks might have a completely different set of problems if Budenholzer had done what I suggested prior to Game 6 of the Indiana series and increased Shelvin Mack’s minutes at the expense of Lou Williams. Before the series, I noted that Williams (minus-15) and Elton Brand (minus-26) had the worst aggregate plus-minus against the Pacers during the regular season. In my playoff postmortem, I noted that Brand again had the worst aggregate plus-minus for the series (minus-32) while Williams was only 4th-worst at minus-21. Continue Reading…

Grantland’s Zach Lowe released his winners and losers from NBA free agency. Among the losers were the Atlanta Hawks, but not because of the deals of Thabo Sefelosha and Kent Bazemore. Instead, Lowe penned this on how the Hawks’ front office is having trouble even meeting with free agents:  

No one will take Atlanta’s money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won’t even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta’s lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.

That will turn around at some point, but just about everyone Atlanta has approached so far rebuffed the Hawks’ invitation to get in on the ground floor.

I have always been an ardent defender of the Hawks’ turnout for the other reason that Lowe mentions: the Atlanta version of the Hawks franchise has never really won anything of significance; no titles, no appearances in the Finals, hell, not even an appearance in the Conference Finals for the Atlanta faithful to hang their hats on.

The Hawks have four “championship” banners hanging up in Philips Arena. All four celebrate a division championship, which I don’t think is an accomplishment you should scoff at, as it is a nice accolade. It usually means that your team is in the top four in the conference and that they have some sort of chance of making it to the Conference Finals. Continue Reading…

After Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore posted his story announcing the signing of guard Thabo Sefolosha, formerly with Oklahoma City, to a 3-year, 12 million contract, he was so surprised by the number of negative comments that he posted this in the comments section:

Wow, have to admit I’m a little shocked by the reaction to the signing. I like it, for what it is. A player to come off bench, step in if Korver or Carroll go down, who can move the ball, shoot the occasional 3 (I like his stroke) and play defense. Plus, comes from winning organization. That will help. Not the over-the-top piece everybody is looking for but a start.

The AJC.com Hawks blog community, which I’ve been part of since around 2005, is known for its negative comments. For C-Viv to express shock at the reaction to Sefolosha’s signing indicates that this went beyond normal forum trolling. Why so much negativity directed toward a free agent signing that addresses the obvious need for improved wing defense?

To answer that, I need to first give an overview of the Hawks’ cap situation. Below are the 13 players the Hawks have under contract and their respective salaries. Also included is $1 million that must be paid to John Salmons, assuming the Hawks cut him by the negotiated deadline of July 10th. If cut by the Hawks, the $1 million will be deducted from the team’s cap space for this season. Continue Reading…

NOTE: The following piece was written prior to the announcement of the Hawks’ signing of Thabo Sefolosha for three years and $12 million, reducing the Atlanta’s available cap space to around $13 million. I will have a piece up later today on why I feel the Sefolosha signing fails to move the needle. 

With two of the big-name free agents, Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry, opting to remain with their current teams, options are drying up. This is even the case for the Miami Heat, which obtained flexibility after the Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted out of their contracts. The Heat, like all other NBA teams with available cap space, are watching the free agent options dwindle rapidly.

Last summer I wrote about 10 free agents I considered realistic options for the Hawks. Of those players, seven signed multi-year contracts with other teams, one is a league pariah whom I still like (Ivan Johnson) and two played on 1-year deals and are free agents again (Anthony Tolliver and Al-Farouq Aminu). The latter two are mentioned as possible veteran-minimum signees for the Heat in an analysis by Tom Haberstroh for ESPN Insider.

Anthony Tolliver

After shooting 34% from 3-point range in his single season with the Hawks, Tolliver went into video game mode in the playoffs, shooting 64%. Haberstroh notes that Tolliver shot 41.3% from 3-point range for the Bobcats this season and feels he would be perfect for Eric Spoelstra’s system. Tolliver played only 21 minutes in the playoffs against the Heat and made one of two attempts, so there was no opportunity for another post-season breakout. Continue Reading…