Archives For Analysis

Every NBA player can be useful with the right coaching staff, system, or organization. Defense can be taught to just about any player. I’ve held these beliefs ever since I started to get deeply into the NBA and I truly believe it.

So when the Hawks signed Kent Bazemore to a new contract, I got excited. Bazemore was a young player that never really got a chance in Golden State, and was allowed to run free in Los Angeles. Despite the solid numbers he put up in Los Angeles, Bazemore was seen as nothing more than end of the rotation roster filler. He might be able to make a few three pointers every once in awhile, but for the most part, he’s just kind of there.

It’s unlikely that Bazemore is going to be turned into an all star player in Atlanta; or even a starting caliber player for that matter. He’s 25 and players with high level talent rarely go unnoticed by coaches. If he was really something special, he would have played in Golden State. But there’s no reason to think that he can’t be a highly useful rotation weapon in the Atlanta system. Continue Reading…

Aron Baynes is the most underrated basketball player alive. ESPN.com just rated him 368th out of 500 players in #NBARank. Among the flotsam ranked ahead of him, just on that same page, were Jeff Withey, Meyers Leonard and Greg Stiemsma.

Last year there was another criminally-underrated player. He was rated 499th in #NBARank and started writing the number on his shoes as motivation. While he was languishing on the Golden State Warriors’ bench behind one of the deepest wing rotations in the league, I wrote on the AJC.com Hawks blog that the Hawks should pursue him. I was laughed at. Why should the Hawks go after a scrub who can’t get playing time, I was asked.

That player got traded to the Lakers and averaged 13.1 PPG on 45% shooting from the field and 37% shooting from 3-point range over the last 23 games of the season. That player, now an Atlanta Hawk, is Kent Bazemore. Continue Reading…

It’s taken a couple of days for me to wrap my head around what has happened to my beloved Atlanta Hawks, a team I’ve followed since the old days at the Omni. If you’ve read this, then you already know where I stand on race relations. Since the civil rights community is already addressing that aspect with the Hawks organization, no further comment from me is needed. What I’d like to do instead is challenge the validity of the statements that ignited this controversy.

First of all, let’s briefly summarize the sad state of the Hawks during the team’s history in Atlanta. This will predate Danny Ferry and Bruce Levenson’s involvement but it’s necessary for background. The Hawks have never reached the conference finals since moving to Atlanta from St. Louis. The Hawks have had one superstar player, Dominique Wilkins, since moving to Atlanta.

Dating back to the Dominique era, starting with the drafting of Kevin Willis in 1984 and ending with the drafting of Josh Smith in 2004, the Hawks went through a 21-year period in which, during the 19 intervening NBA drafts, the Hawks selected and retained only one player who averaged double digit scoring for his career (Jason Terry). Nineteen drafts. One career double digit scorer. Continue Reading…

After hyping Zoran Dragić in my previous piece, I was alarmed to see him go 1-for-8 from three over his next two games against weak competition (Korea and Angola). Dragić may have slipped a bit from his hot start but, as explained below, he remains one of the players to watch in the FIBA World Cup.

Below is an analysis of a number of players I have been tracking throughout the tournament. Most are players I believe Danny Ferry should consider for the Hawks’ 15th and final roster spot. Two of the players, Dario Šarić and Bojan Bogdanović, are draftees of other teams whom the Hawks have little hope of obtaining, but are analyzed here for purposes of comparison to the other emerging talent.

The players are listed in order of their “efficiency” rating, as listed on FIBA.com. Keep in mind that this tournament features a record 45 players currently under contract with NBA teams, and another 23 players with previous NBA experience. For these players to rank this high is truly impressive.

Gustavo Ayón (11th in efficiency out of 261 players ranked)

Goose has been phenomenal, although Mexico have been disappointing. Their only wins came against group bottom feeders Korea and Angola, and they have yet to beat a good team (although they gave Australia a good challenge). I think it’s fair to say Ayón’s numbers have been slightly inflated by his high workload, resulting from his team’s lack of another standout performer.

Continue Reading…

After three days of group play at the FIBA World Cup, several players have emerged as potential NBA talent. Among them is Slovenian shooting guard Zoran Dragić, the younger brother of Phoenix Suns point guard Goran Dragić.

The younger Dragić is averaging 16 PPG, 18th in the tournament. However, his performance becomes more impressive if you look at the “efficiency” statistic on FIBA.com’s stats page. This statistic combines a player’s total points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and drawn fouls, then subtracts the total of the player’s missed field goals and free throws, turnovers, shots blocked and personal fouls.

As mentioned previously, the tournament features a record 45 players under contract in the NBA, combined with 23 players with NBA experience and 17 draftees who have yet to play in the league. With that depth of talent, it’s not surprising that nine of the top 10 players in efficiency are NBA players. Zoran Dragić is tied for 11th while also leading the tournament in 3-point shooting (6-for-7, 86%). The 6-5 guard also commits a microscopic .5 turnovers per game, although he produces only one assist per game. Continue Reading…

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…