Archives For Rudy Gay

FINAL

  SAC(7-17) 100 – 124 (14-12)ATL

Key Performers:
A. Horford (ATL): 25 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast, 4 blk
D. Cousins (SAC): 28 pts, 7 reb, 6 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The first quarterof this game was a nice sample tasting of Atlanta’s season. Coming out of the gates with a roaring start, the Hawks were outpacing the Kings handily for the beginning nine minutes of the initial period. This lead to an 26-12 lead, and Mike Malone burning a second timeout fast. After that timeout however, things started to unravel. Isaiah Thomas got loose, and Atlanta’s offense stagnated behind three turnovers in the last two-and-a-half minutes in the quarter. At the end of the first, the Hawks fourteen point lead was reduced swiftly down to two.

For the second and third quarters, the game went back-and-forth. Atlanta pushed away every Sacramento attempt to overtake the lead in the second, until finally relinquishing it at the very end to be down 54-53 at halftime. As for the third, the ball-movement for the Hawks stagnated and they found themselves down 74-69 before closing down the gap to 87-85 at the end of the third.

The last period was all about Mike Scott hitting the two threes early and never looking back. The Kings were playing the second game of a back-to-back, and the Scott deep balls seemed to be the backbreaker. Atlanta didn’t surrender the lead the rest of the way, putting them two game over .500.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Early on, Al didn’t have his mid-range jumper going. It wasn’t too much of a detriment however, as his 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks statline lead the way for the team. He got all five of his assists in the first half, showing a resolve to help the team when he wasn’t making shots himself. He had a couple non-statsheet hustle plays to take note of too. A few rebounds he tapped back allowed for a couple extra possessions. Boogie certainly played a strong game and got some offensive rebounds himself, but that isn’t all on Horford. 8/10.

Paul Millsap: Millsap’s three ball was instrumental in the Hawks getting out to a hot start. He hit two threes at the end of that initial run, and he made one more in the second quarter. His three offensive rebounds were also key in neutralizing the strong effort the Kings made on their own offensive glass. Outside of that, it wasn’t his best game. There were a lot of moments where he tried to do too much with the ball either forcing a bad shot, a risky pass, or turning it over with a charge. 6/10

Jeff Teague: Risky passes defined Teague’s game. He tied his regular season career high with 15 assists, but with that also came six turnovers. What really stood out was his effort on the glass. Jeff being able to track down loose balls to secure possessions is what kept him valuable when he had some rough stretches. He also was nice defensively in the first quarter, and shot the ball extremely well early. A really solid night for Teague, here’s to hoping he keeps finding the 50/50 balls on long rebounds. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre guarded Rudy Gay tonight, to mixed results. Rudy went 8-13, but it isn’t all on Carroll. When in more halfcourt one-on-one situations, Gay was 4-8 outside the restricted area. Offensively, Carroll posted a strong 6-9 from the field. A pretty average game for the Junkyard Dog. 5/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle was fantastic tonight. His 8-10 mark from deep was influential on the win. A few off-ball lapses on McLemore defensively, but it was not a glaring issue tonight. 9/10. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 102, Raptors 95

Bo Churney —  November 1, 2013 — 2 Comments

FINAL

  TOR(1-1) 95 – 109 (1-1)ATL

Key Performers:
A. Horford (ATL): 22 pts, 16 reb, 1 ast
D. DeRozan (TOR): 31 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks rebounded from their opening loss to the Mavs by beating the Toronto Raptors, 102-95. The offense worked to establish Al Horford quickly against Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas, which opened up opportunities on the perimeter for Kyle Korver and Cartier Martin. The Hawks got to the free throw line 31 times, but only made 20, which is a rate that is going to have to go up if the Hawks want to succeed this season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: His first three possessions against Valanciunas weren’t anything to write home about, but Al rebounded and finished the rest of the game strongly. He finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds, good enough for his 17th 20-15 game of his career. He was also great defensively, and his play on both sides of the court kept Valanciunas out of the game. 10/10

Paul Millsap: Paul Millsap’s free throw struggles are starting to concern me. He was 1-for-5 tonight, is now 3-for-9 on the season, which is all on top of his struggle from the stripe during preseason. That aside, Paul had another strong 4th quarter, scoring six points in helping close out the Raptors. 7.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: When he was on Rudy Gay, he had tons of defensive success. Against DeRozan, though? Not so much. (although that was more of DeMar’s doing than DeMarre’s fault) Outside of that, he had a couple of nice passes, but struggled shooting from the field, finishing 1-for-7. He made up for it, however, by getting to the free throw line five times. (and he made all of them!) 7/10

Jeff Teague: This was a much more impressive effort tonight from Teague on both ends of the floor. On offense, he had 12 assists against one turnover and was making some very swift passes. He also had one nice dunk on a breakaway to end the half, and another dunk attempt in the fourth quarter that… well, it didn’t go so well. 8/10

Kyle Korver: Streak’s up to 75, although my least favorite game at the moment is “WHY IS KYLE DRIBBLING?!?” Seriously, he dribbled a lot in this game and I didn’t like it. However, that’s not too important when he’s 5-for-8 from behind the arc for the night. 7/10 Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 34-48 (10th in East)z-toronto

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: Masai Ujiri (GM), Dwight Buycks (free agent), Tyler Hansbrough (free agent), DJ. Augustin (free agent)

Key Losses: Andrea Bargnani (trade)

Projected 2013-14 Record: 36-46 (9th in East)*

What to Expect: The Raptors are a very hit or miss team, one vying for a Playoff spot while also looking to rebuild under new GM Masai Ujiri. Ujiri made his first big splash running the Raptors with his pulling off of the Andrea Bargnani deal, robbing the Knicks (damn it) of three picks when he’d be happy to give up “Bargs” for nothing in return. A first step of what’s sure to be many strong moves made by one of the league’s brightest front office minds.

Now as for Toronto’s on-court play, it’s really a coin flip. This team will be battling it out for the final three seeds in the Eastern Conference at it’s peak and simply has too much talent to bottom out in the league and score a top draft pick and their basement. Whether or not they make the Playoffs will be contingent on mainly 2 things: Injuries and Rudy Gay. Gay came under heavy fire year-round as inefficient high-volume FGA machine, but even as his numbers remained virtually the same as a Raptor after his trade to Toronto he turned things around for the team in certain occasions. Continue Reading…

FINAL

TOR(33-48) 113 – 96 (44-37)ATL    

Key Performers:
S. Mack (ATL): 11 pts, 3 reb, 5 asts
D. DeRozan (TOR): 30 pts
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Tonight’s game against the Raptors was changed to a national TV game when the game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers was cancelled. This was an opportunity for the Hawks to change the image they have among fans as a boring team. Did they succeed? Nope, not even close. The team decided to rest Al Horford, play starters minimal minutes, and had a, forgive the cliche, lack of energy on the court. The Hawks played some of the worst defense I’ve ever seen with the Raptors scoring 68 points IN THE FIRST HALF.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith only played in the 1st half and sadly that didn’t really matter. When Smith was in the game his defensive impact was minimal and his offensive impact was pedestrian. Smith had 6 points, 1 FT, and a 3 pointer. 3/10

Kyle Korver: One of the lone bright spots for the Hawks tonight was from Kyle Korver. Korver went 5/7 from the field and drained three 3 pointers. His off ball movement was great as usual and he managed to avoid being streaky. However, on defense there was a point where Korver had to cover Rudy Gay and I’m pretty sure we were all worried for Korver’s well being. Defense, still not his strong suit. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see too much of him tonight, but when we did see him, he was playing well. 7/10

Johan Petro: You could easily argue that Petro was the second best player tonight out of the starters; this is not a reflection of how “well” he played. He was able to grab a few offensive boards and got a few easy buckets, but not much else from Johan. 5/10

Devin Harris: Harris was awful tonight. Harris didn’t help the team at all when he was on the court and in some ways he hurt it. Harris was slow on defense (are you beginning to notice a theme?) and probably just as slow on offense. Harris didn’t push the pace at all and sometimes made it even slower leading to possessions where they weren’t in there sets until way late in the shot clock. He didn’t even help with his shooting going 2/8 from the field. To cap it all off, he received a flagrant foul when he hip-checked John Lucas III. 2/10

Jeff Teague: Teague probably could have been better tonight. While he didn’t hurt the team too much he didn’t greatly help them either. He was able to pass his way to 9 assists but his shooting wasn’t too stellar going 2/5 from the field. The assists are nice but it would have been nice to see him try and change the game up a little. 5/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL

   TOR(26-45) 88 – 107 (40-32)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 24 pts, 4 reb, 13 ast
J. Valanciunas (TOR): 19 pts, 8 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

PLAYOFFS?!? The Hawks officially clinched their sixth consecutive playoff berth with this victory over the Raptors, a streak that is currently the longest active one in the Eastern Conference. After a very sub-par first half, the Hawks responded out of halftime, outscoring Toronto 63-34 after halftime. This effort was mostly seen in the fourth quarter, where the Hawks used a 16-0 run to pull away and seal the game. Both Al Horford and Jeff Teague had 10 points in the final period, and Josh Smith was able to sit the entire fourth quarter thanks to the effort of his teammates.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Some people are probably going to look way too hard into Josh not playing in the fourth quarter, but the fact is that LD stuck to what would have been his normal substitutions, and figured out that he didn’t need Josh when the team was up by 20. Otherwise, Josh didn’t have a great night, but he didn’t have a bad one either. He helped tie the game after that halftime deficit with his 10 third quarter points and he played great defense like he almost always does. 7.5/10

Al Horford: Al registered his 41st double-double on the season, which is in the top five in the NBA. He had 26 and 12 on the night, but I think the thing I was most impressed with was his passing, even though he only had one assist. He was pulling some Smoove-like passes out of the paint, and it’s a shame that the guys weren’t able to hit for him. Quietly, Josh and Al have both crept up into the top 25 in scoring. 9.5/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff was extremely aggressive, but he wasn’t exactly finishing well in the paint. However, because the Raptors had to respect his driving abilities, Jeff got great looks on his jumpers, and was able to connect on four of his six shots outside the paint, including back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter. The Teague-Horford two-man game dominated in the 2nd half, as five of Teague’s eight 2nd half assists went to Al. Of course, the Cherry on top of Jeff’s night: only one turnover. 10/10

Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver seemed relatively quiet in his 26 minutes, which isn’t to say he played badly. He scored the team’s last five points in the second quarter, which could have prevented a disaster from happening had the Hawks been down 15 at the break. However, he just seemed to be “out there” a lot, and didn’t actually contribute much else. 6/10

Kyle Korver: This game could have gotten out of hand extremely quickly if Kyle had made his shots in the first quarter. He missed his first FIVE from the field, all of which were good looks set up by his teammates. He did make three of his next four, though, including two three-pointers to extend his streak to 65 games with a three-pointer. 5.5/10

Continue Reading…

HawksHoop Podcast, Ep. 3

Bo Churney —  February 1, 2013 — 3 Comments

@RKalland joins me once again to discuss the Hawks upcoming schedules, plus a bunch of other things that we hope you find interesting.

The Josh Smith Question

Buddy Grizzard —  January 22, 2013 — 4 Comments

Zach Lowe has a post up at Grantland in which he explores numerous trade possibilities for Josh Smith. Although I previously downplayed the severity of the situation, it nevertheless represents the key moment of Danny Ferry’s tenure as Hawks GM. If Ferry trades Smith, he will always deal with the same “what if” questions that have haunted the franchise since it traded Dominique Wilkins. However, if Ferry allows Smith to finish the season with the Hawks and become an unrestricted free agent, Smith could walk while the team comes away empty-handed.

Thus I feel it’s worth taking a look at all possible scenarios. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Wallace Prather, Smith’s agent, met with Ferry last week to convey his client’s frustration with the Hawks’ mid-season lull. Prather stopped short of issuing a trade demand or request, but wouldn’t you like to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting? Ferry must either solidify Smith’s volatile relationship with the franchise or pursue a trade to ensure the Hawks receive compensation for losing such a transcendent talent.

The pie-in-the-sky scenario is that Smith plays out the year with the Hawks, Dwight Howard has a miserable year in L.A. and the two friends decide to team up in Atlanta. The problem with this sort of daydreaming is, how can you rely on Smith to recruit Howard on behalf of the Hawks when you don’t know what his attitude toward the franchise is going to be from one week to the next? Unless Ferry has a handshake deal with Smith behind closed doors and feels assured that Smith will re-sign in the off-season, I see no reason to entrust the fortunes of the franchise to the whims of Howard or Smith.

As for Chris Paul, I just don’t see it. Why would Paul leave the Clippers, a team that has granted him de facto GM powers, to rescue a Hawks organization that turned its nose up at him during the 2005 NBA Draft? Rather than dwell on such long-shot scenarios, I’d rather take a look at what the Hawks have in Smith and what might be available at the trade deadline without waiting for the uncertainty of the off-season.

Earlier this season I looked at aggregate +/- numbers for Hawks players in losing games. I posited that these numbers are more significant in losses because any single player could have changed the outcome by playing better. As I noted on Friday, the team’s four losses to sub-.500 teams during the recent slide prevented the Hawks from staying near the top of the Eastern Conference. Change those four losses to wins and the Hawks would currently be second in the East behind only Miami. We’d be having a completely different conversation about the Hawks if not for those specific losses, so I feel they are worth a deeper look.

The following table shows the aggregate +/- for every Hawk that played at least 10 minutes per game in the recent losses to the Pistons, Timberwolves, Cavaliers and Wizards:

Player / Total minutes / Agregate +/-

Horford / 154 / -10
Smith / 143 / -41
Teague / 131 / -12
Korver / 130 / -16
Williams / 130 / -9
Pachulia / 87 / -8
Jenkins / 64 / -44

Two numbers obviously stand out in that table. Smith’s minutes were by far the most detrimental among the starters. Meanwhile John Jenkins, in the rotation as of late, played 64 brutal minutes in these losses. If his minutes were doubled and the Hawks were outscored at the same rate, he would be a disastrous -88 in roughly the same minutes as Korver, Williams and Teague. So did Smith send Prather to complain about extended minutes for a rookie who is obviously not ready? Because other than Jenkins, Smith has nobody to point the finger at but himself.

Smith shot 27.5% on over 7 shot attempts outside the paint per game in the four losses. Can a team that averages about 36 made field goals per game really afford to dedicate seven offensive possessions to Josh Smith jumpers? For the season, Josh is tied for 28th in the league in shot attempts from 16-23 feet among players who have played at least 10 games. His attempts per game at this distance have gone down over the course of the season, but among the top 75 in attempts, Smith ranks dead last in shooting percentage. You have to scroll all the way down to Emeka Okafor at 76th to find the only player among the top 80 who is shooting worse than Smith at this distance.

Before the season, I wrote that, “With [Joe] Johnson out of the picture, does anyone doubt Smith will have a career scoring year?” Instead, Josh is shooting his worst percentage from the field since 2005-06 to go along with a career-low free throw percentage. Smith’s scoring average is down two points from last year. He’s not competing with anybody for shots. Al Horford and Jeff Teague are just as deferential now as they were in previous seasons. Why hasn’t Smith been able to take advantage of this opportunity to be “the man” for this Hawks team?

I’m forced to conclude one of two things. Either we are witnessing Smith’s ceiling as an NBA player or Smith is drifting outside and avoiding the paint to protect himself from injury in a contract year. If the latter is the case, I certainly don’t blame him. If I had $98 million riding on finishing the season with healthy knees, I’d be cautious too. I think Bret LaGree put it best in his “Clip-and-Save Future Atlanta Hawks News” last May:

Josh Smith signs with another team, for a contract that team will come to regret, a fact which does little to assuage the final missed opportunity of Josh Smith’s career with the Hawks: losing him for nothing.

But could the Hawks end up being the team that signs Smith to a contract it will regret? If Smith, with a history of tendinitis, feels compelled to protect his knees, are those knees a good investment? And even if Smith were willing to change his shooting habits with the security of a long-term contract, will he ever be able to break the ingrained habit of trying — and failing — to be Kobe Bryant? Astute observers will recall that only Bryant had more attempts from 16-23 feet last year than Smith.

All that being said, and amidst all the trade chatter, I can’t believe we’ve heard so little about what seems like an obvious scenario involving the two hottest names: Smith and Rudy Gay. Memphis was mentioned by Berger as a destination with obvious appeal to Smith. It was the Grizzlies who made Smith feel wanted when they extended the contract offer the Hawks matched in restricted free agency. Meanwhile the Hawks have duplication at power forward with Smith and Horford, but have no small forward on the roster. Memphis could try to retain Smith beyond this season on a slightly sub-max contract, which would give it a bit of breathing room. One of Atlanta’s picks in the upcoming draft could serve as insurance in case Smith opted not to remain with Memphis.

Meanwhile the Hawks would finally have a go-to scorer. I suspect the issues in Memphis are related to Gay and Zach Randolph both demanding the ball. In Atlanta, Gay would be the unquestioned focal point of the offense from Day 1. The Hawks would gain a player who is top-5 at his position and capable of guarding LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Gay would be under contract for one more season. Although he will almost certainly decline his player option after 2013-14 and seek another long term deal, trading for Gay would give Ferry an additional 12 months to build around him or flip him for other assets. As of now, Smith’s expiring deal is a ticking time-bomb threatening to blow up in Ferry’s face. Pull the wrong wire trying to defuse it and he could go from celebrated for shipping out Johnson’s albatross contract to reviled as much as Pete Babcock, the former Hawks GM who shipped out the most beloved player in Atlanta Hawks history.

NOTES: This was written before today’s announcement of the Grizzlies’ salary dump which likely makes any discussion of a Rudy Gay trade a moot point. Nevertheless it lead to an entertaining exchange of emails between myself and HawksHoop.com editor Bo Churney, who said a trade for Gay “would be a colossal mistake.” Bo provided this link, but I disagreed with equating Gay’s contract with Johnson’s. I asserted that Gay will be a better player than Johnson in each of the remaining years of his shorter, more reasonable contract.

Bo said in reply, “Will Rudy Gay be better than Joe in those years? He’s still not better than him now, nor has he ever been. I get that Joe is aging, but with this trade, you would essentially just be getting Joe back (high-iso player, large contract). What I’m getting at is that Ferry doesn’t want another large contract; if he did, he probably would have acquired Pau Gasol before the season started.”

I’d like to get a ruling on the field here. Is Joe Johnson really a better player currently than Rudy Gay? Please help us out in the comments.

FINAL

MEM(14-4) 83 – 93 (12-5) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 24 pts, 8 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls
M. Gasol (MEM): 18 pts, 8 rebs, 5 asts
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Taking the Hawks seriously yet? Atlanta improved to 12-5 with the win over the Grizzlies, and now have wins over three of the top four teams in the West. (Clippers & Thunder are the other two) This particular game was won in the third quarter, which was a 32-13 advantage for Atlanta. The Hawks outrebounded the Grizzlies on both the offensive and defensive glass, which is a clear improvement over the start of the season when the team couldn’t rebound to save their lives. Hawks have won nine out of the last ten, and could potentially take first place in the East against the Heat, pending that the Knicks lose to the Nuggets tomorrow.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: He dominated Rudy Gay on both offense and defense, and is really starting to come out of his slump. Over his last five games, he’s averaging 22-11-4-2-2 on 48% shooting, and 50% (!!!) three-point shooting. His four turnovers aren’t enough to deduct a point from this one, in my opinion. 10/10

Al Horford: Al had his motor going in this one, pulling in six offensive rebounds and ending with 19 points and 14 total boards. His hustle was extremely evident tonight, and was one of the best things to watch in this game. (even though it led to him getting poked in the eye once. =/ ) 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: I know LD likes to set up the starting lineup based on team-to-team matchups, but Zaza has earned serious consideration as a full-time starter. The team plays better when he’s on the court, and both NBA.com and Basketball-Reference rate lineups that have a Smoove/Horford/Zaza frontcourt among the Hawks’ best. 7/10

Jeff Teague: He rebounded nicely from that horrific shooting game he had against the Wizards, but his work around the rim still needs work. He helped keep Conley under control for the most part, and had no turnovers for only the second time this season. 7/10

Lou Williams: Lou had a pretty poor start to the game (1-6 in the first half), but then went supernova in the third quarter, hitting back-to-back-to-back threes in the middle of an 18-0 Atlanta run. Admittedly, that stretch made him a little jumper happy, but that stretch was a huge reason why the Hawks won this game. 7/10 Continue Reading…