Archives For LaMarcus Aldridge

The Hawks’ season just ended yesterday, meaning that the team has officially entered the offseason. That begs one question: what do the Hawks need to do to rebound for the 2015-16 season? What are the team’s weaknesses? Who is available for the Hawks to sign?

The way to answer those first two questions is with a status report of where the Hawks are right now. The following Hawks will be free agents this offseason:

Paul Millsap
DeMarre Carroll
Pero Antic (restricted)
John Jenkins
Elton Brand

Jenkins is likely gone and it appears as if Brand is preparing for retirement. Judging by his status in the Hawks’ rotation in games 3 and 4 of the series against the Cavs, Antic could be on his way out as well. Other factors to consider here are the recovery times for Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha, the play of Mike Scott in the playoffs, and Millsap’s own potential surgery in the offseason.

With all of that in mind, the Hawks will have money that needs to be spent addressing the wing and big positions. One thing that became abundantly clear in the playoffs is that there is no such thing as having too many shooters on the roster. Korver’s cold streak and subsequent absence was a major blow for the Hawks, and while Kent Bazemore made an admirable effort to step in, it was soon clear that the Hawks could use more shooting from the bench. Dennis Schröder is not a shooter (more shots than points in the playoffs) and Mike Scott became too streaky — in addition to his bad defense — to be a reliable option.

The other obvious weakness for the Hawks in the postseason was rebounding. Horford and a less-than-100% Millsap usually held their own, but the bench options of Antic and Scott were not the kind of guys that could remedy rebounding issues whenever the Hawks were in a rut. This issue was amplified upon Sefolosha’s injury, as he provided a rebounding boost from the small forward position when he was on the court. (8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes)

Of course, an important concept to remember here is how the Hawks play. Coach Mike Budenholzer preaches pace and space on offense, and activity, quick hands, and awareness on defense. The best fits for the Hawks are going to be players that exhibit most or all of these attributes.

Finally, something that sticks out heavily, is the salary cap. I will not go into all of the Hawks’ salary cap specifics here, but suffice to say, the Hawks will have money to spend in the offseason. Also important is the NBA’s new TV deal that will start with the 2016-17 season, which will likely send the salary cap soaring to at least $85 million. Because of these, teams may be willing to overpay for free agents this year, as they know those contracts will not be as large of a hit to their cap in the future. Combating that will be whether or not players desire long-term contracts, as they may opt for shorter contracts to take advantage of the future cap spike.

Taking all of that into consideration, I present my free agent targets for the Atlanta Hawks.

YOU PROBABLY WANT THESE GUYS BACK

Paul Millsap, F, Atlanta Hawks
Millsap averaged 16.7 points on 56.5% true-shooting, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on the season. He was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season and was one of the most important defenders on a team that finished sixth in defensive efficiency. Continue Reading…

This looked like it would be the night.

First, Portland’s Damian Lillard was left off of a stacked Western Conference All-Star team. Later, it was announced that DeMarre Carroll would not play due to an Achilles strain. Finally — when the game started — Carroll’s replacement, Thabo Sefolosha, came up limping after a blown layup and was later diagnosed with a calf strain. He did not return.

it seemed as if Portland was not going to miss early after they started 7-for-8 from 3-point range. After Atlanta had put together a mini-rally to close the first half, Portland responded with Steve Blake banking in a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer. That bank seemed like it would be it; this was going to finally be the end of the Hawks’ win streak.

But when the dust settled after 48 minutes, the Hawks ended the day with a 105-99 win and the best record in the NBA.

Paul Millsap scored 21 points and Al Horford pitched in with 17 as the Hawks were able to overcome 37 points from LaMarcus Aldridge. The win represented the Hawks 18th win in a row, a streak that is tied for the ninth best in NBA history.

“We’re a resilient group,” said Horford on the adversity the Hawks faced in the game. “We just kept fighting, got stops when we needed to and really got into a good rhythm offensively.”

One of the main guys who kept fighting was Kent Bazemore, who played a career-high 40 minutes in the wake of the injuries to Carroll and Sefolosha. Bazemore recored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. Continue Reading…

The second game of a back to back in Portland screamed “schedule loss” to me. The Trail Blazers are an exceptional team and play well in front of their raucous home crowd; only another exceptional team would be able to take them down in their home arena.

And we are learning that the 2014-15 Hawks are that kind of exceptional team.

Paul Millsap scored 27 points and Jeff Teague added 22 points to lead the Hawks to a 115-107 victory in Portland on Saturday night. The win gave the Hawks their fourth in a row and their 18th in their last 20 games. It also gave the Hawks a full-game cushion on the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The game did not look like it was going to go the Hawks’ way early; Portland opened with an 8-0 that started with Nicolas Batum sinking a hotly contested 3-pointer. After a timeout, the Hawks came out rolling, going on a 29-12 run to close the quarter and establish a lead.

Portland responded in the second quarter thanks to their 3-point shooting. Led by Dorell Wright from off of the bench, the Blazers shot 5-for-7 from behind the arc in the quarter, where they put up 29 points of their own. Portland had the Atlanta lead down to just one point, but Paul Millsap hit a couple of free throws to give the Hawks a 52-49 lead heading into halftime. Continue Reading…

FINAL

POR(46-27) 100 – 85 (31-40)ATL

Key Performers:
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR): 25 pts, 16 reb
Jeff Teague (ATL): 22 pts, 3 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks fell behind early, pushing back with two runs in the latter half that eventually fell short as Atlanta drops their fifth in a row. For most of the night, the Hawks starting five was their best lineup, cutting into a colossal halftime lead for Atlanta’s first “comeback” of the night. After the Blazers responded, it was Lou Williams stepping up to keep the Hawks within striking distance, but to no avail. Once again the Hawks couldn’t connect from downtown with Korver and now Antic out with injury, shooting 4-22 on the evening.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap had another tough outing, unable to find his best looks with little spacing. Paul was forced to take a large amount of poor perimeter shots, leading to a horrid 3-15 shooting night. Another factor could have been exercising a majority of his effort on defense, where he guarded LaMarcus Aldridge for most of the contest. Millsap was solid in this regard, forcing Aldridge into tough mid-range looks. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was extremely aggressive tonight, constantly looking for seams into the lane and putting up every shot that looked appealing. He played with an extra shot of swagger, throwing one-handed bullet passes and at one point sizing up his defender with some streetball dribbles. The frivolous things aside, Teague finished 10-18 from the field and scored 22 points in 37 minutes. 9/10

Elton Brand: Budenholzer 3:17 says, “Amassing the plague of injuries in such dire times, God sent forth a descendant from the heavens, a savior for the troubled Hawks. The bearer of 42 great angel wings, his holiness, Elton Brand.” Amen. 10/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll stuck to his script, scoring 11 and grabbing 4 boards shooting nearly perfectly from the field, 5-of-6. During the broadcast, ‘Nique noted DeMarre’s floater that’s been a recent addition to his game when he dropped one through in the first quarter. Atlanta’s swiss army knife keeps on getting better. 8/10

Shelvin Mack: Mack started alongside Jeff Teague tonight, his 3-9 shooting night skewed by a couple of last second flings. Impressively, the Blazers weren’t able to take advantage of the obvious mismatch with Mack having to guard Wes Matthews who loves posting up smaller guards. 7/10
Continue Reading…

FINAL

POR(42-19) 102 – 78 (26-33)ATL   

Key Performers:
N. Batum (POR): 14 pts, 18 reb
C. Martin (ATL): 16 pts, 6 reb, 3 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

You know…nobody actually expected the Hawks to win this game. There was a hope that they might be able to pull out an upset thanks to their ball movement and 3 point shooting. The Blazers aren’t exactly a good defensive team, maybe if the ball is moving fast enough and the shots are falling then they have a chance. Of course, it didn’t go that way. I feel this tweet from @fergoe on twitter describes it perfectly.

Of course the Hawks had to lay a giant egg on national TV. It’s the Hawks way. Yes, the Blazers were a better team but when they start off the game missing every single wide open look created, you know they’re about to do something awful.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Jeff Teague: Teague really tried to be aggressive tonight. He attacked his defenders, he was trying to move the ball and get the offense going during some of the lowest moments of the game. I’ll give him points for trying but he was largely unsuccessful at it. To top everything off he had a pass that’s up there for one of the worst ones all season. Not a good game by any stretch. 3/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll had a horrible game on the offensive side of the ball. Was extremely overmatched by anybody that happened to be guarding him. On defense he struggled keeping up with his matchups off ball. He did his usual things like rebound and set screens but he just didn’t have enough of a positive contribution to justify giving him a good grade. 4/10

Kyle Korver: The streak is over at 127. Korver was swarmed by defenders and couldn’t hit the few open looks he got. That’s it for how his game went. I just want to say how cool it was to see someone on a night to night basis make NBA history. I got to see Korver set the record to triple digits in person when he was in Orlando and it’s a basketball memory I’m going to always remember. I’m honestly bummed his streak had to end, but all streaks have to end eventually. :(/10

Elton Brand:If one good thing came out of tonight, it’s that Elton Brand didn’t have to play another huge minute night. 20 minutes where Brand went 3-for-6 from the field. On defense he was a large part of holding LaMarcus Aldridge to 1-for-13 shooting and deserves tons of credit for that. 7/10

Mike Scott: Scott couldn’t get anything going all night on offense. LaMarcus Aldrige and Robin Lopez shut him down. On the other side of things, Scott worked with Brand to make sure Aldridge didn’t score himself so he gets points for that. 5/10 Continue Reading…

The injured Hawks started their west coast road trip with a loss against the Phoenix Suns. While losing to the Suns is not a bad thing these days, it’s the overall picture that makes it a rough loss. The Hawks have lost 11 of their last 12 largely due to injuries and tired legs. February and March is a rough time for any NBA team. Throw in injuries and you’re gonna have some problems. That’s why this upcoming road trip is so huge for the Hawks. They don’t have to win every single game, but a single win over the next three could go a long way.

It won’t be an easy road with the Hawks playing in Portland tonight to take on the Blazers. While Portland has appeared to have fallen back down to earth a bit, they are still one of the better teams in the NBA using an arsenal of – point shooters. They use LaMarcus Aldridge and his mid-range shooting ability to space the floor for their 3-point shooters. The Blazers problem is their defense is far from good and their bench isn’t that great.

Were the Hawks at full strength I’d say they had a really good chance at winning and possibly even be the favorites. However, no Horford, Millsap likely out, no Antic, and no Ayon, leaves them in a tight spot. They finally have three big men on the roster, but they’ve gone from having two all stars, a serviceable vet in Elton Brand, and a serviceable rookie to playing the vet major minutes while trying to scrape by on big men that were at the end of the bench earlier in the season. That is not an ideal situation for any team. Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 33-49 (11th in West)z-blazers

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: CJ McCollum (draft), Robin Lopez (trade), Dorell Wright (free agent), Thomas Robinson (trade), Mo Williams (free agent)

Key Losses: JJ Hickson (free agent and probably the best thing they could have done)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 42-40 (8th in West)*

What to Expect: Despite how much I detest JJ Hickson for his defense, Portland actually had a good starting lineup last year. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best power forwards in the league, putting up at least 20 points and eight rebounds in each of the last three seasons. Damian Lillard came onto the scene and quickly established himself as a quality point guard with his winning of rookie of the year. Wes Matthews isn’t a great shooting guard, but he’s not bad either. And while Nicolas Batum might not stick out to most people, he does a little bit of everything and is very solid wing player.

So the Blazers had four solid pieces in their starting lineup. So what was wrong?

Depth. Portland had none of it. Continue Reading…

FINAL

POR(33-36) 104 – 93 (38-31) ATL

Key Performers:
W. Matthews (PDX): 28 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast
J. Teague (ATL): 21 pts, 7 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

I guess the Hawks do read my stuff, because they did the same thing that I did in my recent three game recap: completely skip over the Blazers.

“Breakdowns” was the word for Larry Drew in post game when talking about the 2nd half, as he was completely disgusted with his team’s effort on the defensive end. Portland shot 8-for-11 from behind the arc in the 2nd half, largely due to missed defensive assignments and slow rotations. While the Atlanta offense was able to keep up during the third, they just couldn’t keep it going, and were outscored 31-17 over the final period. Lack of fourth quarter offense and a sieve of a defense? Sounds like the Hawks are really missing Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Once upon a time, after three quarters, Josh Smith was shooting 9-for-16 from the field and was getting a lot of good looks near the basket. (aka: DUNKS!) However, in the fourth quarter, it was… bleh! Josh was 0-for-5 in the fourth quarter, and took some of the most head-scratching jumpers that I’ve ever seen him take. He did make all four of his foul shots in the final period (ending up 6-for-10 for the night), but for an important stretch of the game, Josh actively shot the Hawks into a loss. 5/10

Al Horford: As inefficient as Josh was, it wasn’t like Al was doing him any favors with the shooting. The Hawks were aggressively looking to get Horford open looks, but Al left a lot of them short. He wound up with one of his worst shooting nights of the year, going 7-for-18 from the floor. However, Al was the team’s strongest rebounder, coming down with 17 rebounds. He also was an extremely active passer, which his five assists don’t adequately reflect. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: If he’s not making shots, then Korver really isn’t helping you that much. He did get one three-pointer to drive his streak to 62 games, but overall, he missed quite a few easy looks that led to the Hawks offense stalling. 3/10

DeShawn Stevenson: Speaking of missed open shots, DeShawn Stevenson, everybody! And his defense was exactly helping either, as he let Wes Matthews (!) go off on him for 14 in the third quarter; not what you want out of your defensive stopper. 2/10

Jeff Teague: JT was the best player on the floor tonight for the Hawks, but he made a few key turnovers in the fourth quarter, including one where it didn’t even look like he was paying attention when Al Horford passed him the ball. This shouldn’t completely take away from Jeff’s night, because he was the only effective scorer in the fourth quarter. However, like Josh’s jumpers late in the fourth, those TOs came at a critical time in the fourth that make you wonder what the Hawks could have done if they were avoided. 8.5/10

Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 95, Blazers 87

Bo Churney —  November 13, 2012

FINAL

POR(2-5) 87 – 95 (3-3) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL): 15 pts, 10 rebs, 4 asts
J. Hickson (POR): 19 pts, 18 rebs, 2 stls
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks led by double-digits at halftime, but the Blazers battled back to make it a game in the fourth quarter. After back-to-back-to-back buckets by Horford, plus another from Teague, Atlanta had a 91-87 lead late. However, LaMarcus Aldridge missed two free throws to secure the game for the Hawks.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: He wasn’t that involved early, but he got going after, including that stretch I mentioned in the fourth. He did have 10 boards, but allowed Hickson to destroy him in that facet of the game. 7/10

Josh Smith: He played sick and was doing fine until he went on a jump-shooting frenzy late in the game. He did disrupt LMA, though, limiting Aldridge to 4-13 shooting and drawing five turnovers. If he learns to be efficient, he’ll be fine. (And he made 100% of his free throws this game!) 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: He had nine rebounds and two blocks, but went 1-6 from the field. He had a couple of “what the heck are you doing” moments”, but his work on the boards in 23 minutes was key. 6/10

Lou Williams: He had 11 points and four steals in 18 minutes, despite being sick like Smoove. Strong performance in such a little time. 7/10

Jeff Teague: I thought he and Lilliard were going to both have strong performance, but they were both kinda of “meh”, with Jeff being the stronger of the two. The good news is that he is continuing to lead the Hawks in distribution (he had eight dimes tonight), which I wasn’t necessarily confident would happen at the start of the season. 13 and eight is good enough despite the poor shooting performance. 7/10 Continue Reading…

Aldridge

I did a podcast with Portland Roundball Society’s Sean Highkin; you can click here to check it out.

We go over many topics, including why Anthony Morrow and Jeff Teague should be playing more, why Josh Smith is still struggling, and whether or not the Hawks will be able to contain Portland wing Nicolas Batum. Why are you still reading this, go listen to it!