Archives For Ivan Johnson

The Hawks have waived Jared Cunningham, per a press released from the team.

Cunningham only appeared in five games and scored two total points this season. He had a PER of -1.8 in 22 minutes of play.

The move opens up a roster spot for the Hawks, which they have used to sign Dexter Pittman to a 10-day contract, according to the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore. Pittman will be available tonight against the Knicks, also per Vivlamore. Pittman last played with Miami and Memphis.

As you may have heard, Ivan Johnson will be playing in China next season.

My simple question is… why?

It was my understanding back in late-June/early-July that Ivan was unlikely to be brought back due his outwardly rebellious nature. I mean, this is the guy that is banned from the Korean Basketball League. While Ivan’s behavior in the NBA hasn’t been as noteworthy, he was still a guy that was continuously in Coach Drew’s doghouse for things like showing up late to meetings, practices, games, etc.

So even though I didn’t anticipate seeing Ivan in an ATL uniform for the 2013-14 season, I did think he would make it with another team, even at a price tag worth more than the veteran’s minimum. His per game averages of 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds may not sound that game changing, but consider that Ivan was only playing 15 minutes a game. Those are per-36 averages of almost 16 points and nine rebounds. On the more advanced side of stats, he had a PER of 15.7 and a true-shooting of 54.6%, which is higher than the league average. He’s also a positive defender that is capable of defending all three frontcourt positions. Even if he can be a little rough on a team’s PR department, those are still good enough stats and attributes to be in an NBA team’s rotation.

The good news for Ivan Johnson fans is that his agent hints they may be back in the NBA once the Chinese season is over. The Chinese season ends in March and Ivan will still be eligible to sign with any team. With this being the case, I could definitely see Ivan getting looks from some of the league’s contenders in hopes of adding an impact bench player before the playoffs. (ala Tracy McGrady with the Spurs… except that Ivan would probably get real playing time)

Let’s take a look back at some of Ivan’s best moments as a Hawk. (WARNING: NSFW language)

Well, that was somewhat unexpected.

According to the AJC, the Hawks have extended the qualifying offer to Jeff Teague, but not to Ivan Johnson. This move makes Ivan an unrestricted free agent.

My take on the move is that the Hawks no longer see Ivan as someone who fits in with the culture of the team. Sure, they could still bring him back, but Ivan’s attitude at times means that this move isn’t a huge surprise; just a little unexpected.

Ivan averaged almost 16 points and nine rebounds per 36 minutes last season. He did this while getting playing time at all three frontcourt positions and playing above-average defense at all of them. If this move does signal the end of Ivan’s time in Atlanta, it will be the departure of an ATL fan favorite.

FINAL

ORL(19-55) 88 – 97 (41-33)ATL

Key Performers:
I. Johnson (ATL): 21 pts, 10 reb, 3 stl
N. Vucevic (ORL): 17 pts, 15 reb, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

With only 10 players available, the Hawks were eventually able to outwork the lesser Magic team, and capture their 41st win of the season. Ivan Johnson stepped up in place of Al Horford, who was sitting a second straight game with a stomach illness. Larry Drew credited Ivan in postgame, saying “[Ivan] brought a very high level of energy and intensity that I thought really got us going.”

Despite the ugly game, the win does give the Hawks a .500 season for the fifth consecutive season. The win was also the Hawks’ 10th straight over Orlando.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Believe it or not, Josh Smith is actually capable of having good games. He worked to get some good looks inside the paint in this one, although he was extremely wild with his passing. Credit his defense to forcing Tobias Harris into a bad night, which went well with his three blocks. And, wait for it… HE WENT 7-FOR-9 FROM THE FREE THROW LINE!8.5/10

Ivan Johnson: Watch this. It’s Ivan’s interview after the game. It is also probably the greatest thing ever. Ivan tied his career-high in points tonight with 21, and added 10 rebounds with it to give him his first 20-10 game of his career. He was originally supposed to be in the starting lineup, but coach Drew later changed the lineup to bring Ivan’s energy off the bench. The plan worked, as Ivan sparked the team when they appeared to be in dire straights in the first quarter. He also did this to poor Kyle O’Quinn. 10/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff had a bad night and he was visibly outplayed by both Devin Harris and Shelvin Mack. It wasn’t exactly the “Passive Teague” that we’ve seen in the past, it was just that Orlando did a good job of trying to keep him out of his comfort zone. He missed a few shots early, and then the Magic made an effort to cut off the passing lanes. Of course, considering that Jeff gets a lot of assists for the pick-and-roll with Al Horford, his absence didn’t exactly help. 3/10

Devin Harris: Devin was the Hawks’ fourth quarter, and was the reason Atlanta was able to pull away. He had 13 points in the final period, including two three-pointers. However, he’s still having trouble with his free throws, as his 5-for-9 performance tonight only added to his season-long woes. He’s still shooting 70% from the stripe on the season, but that’s down from his career number of 80%. 8/10

Kyle Korver: There start to come a point in this streak were I wonder how aware the team is of it. (it’s at 67 now, by the way) Kyle got his three in the second quarter, but then he didn’t play the entirety of the fourth quarter. I’m interested in what would happen if Kyle didn’t have a three in a game where the Hawks were blowing out an opponent. Would they put him in and let him get shots up? Either way, he can probably easily avoid that situation by staying out of foul trouble, which is why he was limited on minutes in this one. 5/10

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FINAL

IND(44-27) 100 – 94 (39-32) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Smith (ATL): 20 pts, 3 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 2 blk
R. Hibbert (IND): 17 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Coming off an important win over the Milwaukee Bucks last Sunday, Atlanta failed to capitalize on any positive momentum and fell flat against the Pacers on Monday night. It was a lethargic effort from the Hawks, who were plagued by a lack of activity from the starters apart from Josh Smith. Teague struggled from the field and failed to successfully initiate any sort of offense, and that reflected in Horford’s offensive production, as he only shot 6-15 on the night. More on player specificities later, but the energy, as I’m sure Larry Drew would like to say, was not there– the energy (cut to LD nodding vigorously)– was lacking. Obviously it isn’t easy working in the paint against Roy Hibbert, one of the league’s premier defensive centers, and defending the Gerald Green renaissance isn’t any fun either, but the Hawks failed to pick up what would have been an impressive win in an important stretch of the season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith played the best of any Atlanta player on Monday night, and one thing that is worth mentioning, whether it’s obvious or not, is that Smoove is so much better when he’s moving towards the hoop. Any shot in which his body or his motion is carrying him in a direction closer to the rim is usually a good Josh Smith shot. That was clearly evidenced by the work he did on Paul George in the post. Smith, who is a left handed player, frequently posted George while showing an intent to attack with a left-handed hook (a shot for which he has an affinity). Instead, however, Smith backed George down, showed the ball left, and then swerved and turned his body right for a right-handed shot around the hoop. The first three times he did this the Indiana help was late and he scored rather easily. Now for his jumpers: one was at the end of the shot clock and the other was a play in which the two and the three came off screens to the top of the key. This demonstrates the issue with Smith at the three offensively in Drew’s system because it flushes him out to the perimeter where he can jack in-rhythm or out-of-rhythm jumpers. Even though his 18-footer was in-rhythm on Monday night, you knew it was a bad shot. Still– is anyone complaining about Smith? He went 7-10 from the field. 8/10

Al Horford: At this point we’re all so used to 20-10 games from Al that anything less seems disappointing. It seems as if Hibbert’s defense had an effect on Horford early, and that effect perpetuated itself throughout the game. Hibbert contested six of Horford’s 13 shots, and of those six Horford only made one. He had much more success backing down/working against Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph. The Hawks have recently used a crossing screen with a guard on one block and Horford on the other to allow Al an easy seal-and-post right next to the hoop. They ran that twice against Indiana, once with Jones setting the screen, the other time with Korver. It works. 6/10

Johan Petro: He’s usually ineffective offensively because he’s not great with setting picks/scoring off picks due to his mobility (or lack thereof). His midrange shooting is somewhere between poor and inconsistent. He can be a spatial liability at times, but on occasion his hustle and defensive activity make up for that. That wasn’t the case on Monday as he failed to establish any sort of interior defensive presence. He did, however, have 4 offensive rebounds that all required a whole bunch of tipping and tapping. 4/10

Dahntay Jones: He kicked things off for Atlanta with a three-pointer in the opening minutes, but he didn’t score the rest of the night. He only played 12 minutes, so not too much to discuss here. 3/10

Jeff Teague: The Indiana defense did an exceptional job on Teague, but he missed his fair share of open looks. His outside shot was off the mark, but all 5 of his attempted layups were challenged by Hibbert, and as we know, that generally has a distinct correlation with low field goal percentages. On the other hand, his penetration didn’t seem to open the offense up as much as it usually does. That probably has something to do with Indiana’s number one ranked defense. 4/10

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FINAL

MIL (34-33) 90 – 98 (38-30) ATL

Key Performers:
A. Horford (ATL): 26 pts, 15 reb, 1ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
L. Sanders (MIL): 19 pts, 14 reb, 2 ast, 4 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

If you look at the box score of this game, the first thing that stands out is how many players had seven or more rebounds– there were seven (three of which who had 14 or over), and one who had six in 11 minutes of play. The reason, mainly, is that there were a lot of missed shots, especially by Milwaukee. The interesting thing about this game, however, was that, defensively, it was the complete opposite of Monday night’s effort against Dallas, where the Hawks seemingly hit a wall and allowed a barrage of perimeter scoring. Wednesday night was different: Milwaukee shot 37% from the field as opposed to Dallas’s 60+%, they shot 42% from beyond the arc as opposed to 59%, and they were out-rebounded by the Hawks 47-46 as opposed to out-rebounding them by 13. In short, the Hawks took note of their recent shortcomings, and made a concerted, whether conscious or not, effort to turn them around.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: The field goal percentage was ugly. It’s always ugly. Whatever, I’m going to move past that. You could probably guess the kind of shots he took without even watching the game, anyway. And, just like almost every game, I start out with some negative comment on shot selection or something or another, but then I move on to say that he did his part in other areas. And boy did he on Wednesday. He hauled in 16 rebounds over Milwaukee’s super-lengthy front court and also dished out six assists. But because this is Josh Smith, something had to offset those positive markings, so just to troll everyone, he also had six turnovers. 5/10

Al Horford: There’s so much to be said about how well Horford understands the spacing in the Hawks’ offense. He flashes to the right spots every time Teague penetrates the lane, whether that be to the top of the key or out to the wing, and it really opens things up when he’s connecting on his jumper. He was doing so tonight, and was once again a man amongst boys. He scored 26 points on 11-20 shooting and hauled in 14 rebounds. 10/10

Kyle Korver: He was 3-6 from beyond the arc and kept the streak of games with a made three-pointer alive. He’s only 25 or so games away from breaking the record. His streak is clearly more impressive than the other streak that continued Wednesday night (pshhhh 24 wins is supposed to be good or something?). Anyways, Korver wasn’t exactly a defensive stopper as he struggled to stay with both Redick and Dunleavy most of the night. 4/10

Devin Harris: He was the first quarter offense, scoring 10 points early to keep the Bucks from building any sort of lead when the Hawks just seemed out of sorts offensively. He was the only one attacking the lane and getting to the line at the start of the game, and he also had an awesome fake pass that opened up him for a made three-pointer. He finished the night with 15 points and was active on defense, even if he was beaten off the dribble a few times.  6/10

Jeff Teague: That’s another 20-10 game for Teague, who now has eight of those by my unofficial count, and 12 double-doubles on the season. He also has six games where he’s been either one or two assists away from having a 20-10 game. So, in essence, he finds himself with this sort of stat line a lot, which is clearly good for the Hawks. He was a lightning rod Wednesday night, getting into the lane with ease and finishing on some floaters and runners. He was one point away from his career high and tallied 11 assists to go along with those 27 points.   10/10

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FINAL

DAL(32-35) 117 – 103 (37-30) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 19 pts, 2 reb, 7 asts, 2 stl
D. Collison (DAL): 24 pts, 5 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Larry Drew’s overriding theme for the Hawks is energy. Whether that be energy on offense, energy on defense, or just a non-stop stream of movement on both ends of the floor that induces a controlled chaos, the Hawks had none of it to begin the game. Defensively, the effort was nearly nonexistent: rotations were poor, the pick-and-roll coverage was weak, and the lack of defensive rebounding opened up Dallas’s perimeter shooting even more. In short, 103 points should be enough to win any game or at least be competitive in any game, but it wasn’t for this game. The Mavericks scored 117 points and at least 30 in each of the first three quarters as they blitzed a lifeless Hawks team, clinging to the second night of a back-to-back, in what was a blowout or at least thoroughly controlled game from the beginning.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Statistically, Smith had a solid game. He scored 13 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and passed for 6 assists– those are good numbers, but sometimes those stat lines are empty.The emptiest category in that stat line is rebounding, which is not-so-coincidentally the same category the Hawks were destroyed in on Monday night. Dallas had 8 more rebounds on the night and doubled Atlanta in offensive boards. Smith, who was playing the four almost the entire night, was not an active participant on the glass, and that truly had a significant impact. Furthermore, it’s nights like these when the jumpers don’t fly. Settling, pulling up– you name it, he did it. He did make some nice plays in transition and also had a few buckets in the paint, but the areas in which he usually ameliorates his shortcomings are the ones in which he struggled: rebounding and defensive intensity. 4.5/10

Al Horford: Bob Rathbun tossed a stat on the screen last night that said Horford is the only player in the NBA who has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since the all-star break– that should provide everyone with a decent understanding of his constant production. On Monday night, that production was once again prevalent, but offset by a lackluster and lackadaisical team defensive performance. (It’s worth noting that the Hawks offense actually played pretty well last night. They got most of the looks they wanted, they just couldn’t string together a few stops in a row to pull the game within 10 points.) Anyway, Horford’s pick-and-pop jumpers seemed a little short, which might be a product of fatigue. This was the second of a back-to-back, but Horford still gave it a solid go and had a strong night rebounding (the only Hawk to do so); he finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Defensively, Korver was lost like a needle in a haystack in pick-and-roll coverage. I believe Larry Drew mentioned before the game that Dallas loves to run pick-and-rolls, and they sure do. Vince Carter showed up Korver early and often with a bevy of drives and open jumpers. On offense, Korver gave his usual production: two three-pointers, over 50% shooting, 11 points. 4/10

Devin Harris: Nothing spectacular from Devin on Monday night– 10 points, 2 assists, and some mediocre defense. There really isn’t much more to it than that. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague’s offensive performance was the only real positive for the Hawks on Monday night. Aggressive Teague showed up as he attacked the basket and was relentless in transition. Dallas tried to slow him by icing his pick-and-rolls a few times– they experienced minor success, but on the whole Teague’s ability to get to the hoop was a major reason Atlanta was able to keep the game from being a full-fledged blowout. For all the good he brought offensively, however, he brought almost as much bad defensively. He, like Korver, struggled in covering Dallas’s pick-and-roll as Darren Collison broke down Atlanta’s defense seemingly play after play in the first half. Jeff couldn’t stay in front of him, and the help was ineffective. 6.5/10 Continue Reading…

Zaza Pachulia’s high motor, energy off the bench and nasty altercations with some of the league’s elite players have made him a fan-favorite with the Atlanta Hawks, but more importantly a key player in it’s playoff rotation.

This season, Pachulia has been hampered with a nasty Achilles injury that won’t seem to go away. Originally diagnosed as tendinitis in the Achilles around January 22, reports have now surfaced that the veteran center is concerned about tearing the tendon, which has led to his increasing absence from the floor.

“Right now, I can just say that I’m out indefinitely,” Pachulia told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday. “We are in the process of different treatments. There is no timeframe. All I can say is it is indefinite. There is no report from the doctors yet. Basically, every day matters. We are expecting it to get better. We don’t know when or how soon. Hopefully the treatments will help.”

During his extended absence, Ivan Johnson was expected to garner more minutes and a larger role. With a thin roster as it is, head coach Larry Drew was forced to shift around the roster, essentially pushing Johan Petro into Pachulia’s role as occasional starter and big off the bench. Continue Reading…

And yes, I mean this even if Horford and Zaza are available to play.

This doesn’t really even have much to do with Ivan’s performance against the Bobcats. Yes, the 12 points and 15 rebounds were nice, but… it’s the Bobcats. Hakim Warrick and Bismack Biyombo probably couldn’t handle a lightpost; they have no shot against a dude that wears a grill and was banned from the Korean League.

No, this has much more to do with Josh Smith. If you have problems remembering, Smoove has had a lot of trouble with Boston lately, which appears to be a psychological barrier enforced by Kevin Garnett. Josh’s career numbers against the Cs? 13 points, seven boards, and 40% shooting. Not. Good.

So, Horford appears to be good to go, but Zaza may be iffy, which makes this a little more difficult, but I believe the Hawks should start with a lineup of Jeff, Devin or Korver, Josh, Al, and then Ivan. Why? To keep Josh the hell away from KG.

Oh, and Josh being at the three works. According to 82games.com, it’s his best position. According to the NBA’s Media Stats site, the best lineups for the Hawks are when Josh is playing small forward. I don’t see how putting Josh on Pierce, and then getting Horford on either Bass, Green, or Garnett wouldn’t be the most advantageous thing for Atlanta.

The only thing that could throw a wrench into this plan is if Zaza isn’t able to go. In that case, I could see why Larry Drew wouldn’t want to put his best three frontcourt options out there at once, with no real option to back up off the bench. However, if Zaza can play, I see no reason for the Hawks to not give heavy minutes to that frontcourt lineup that I listed above.