Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Season Review: The End of the Bench

A quick wrap-up of those who played few minutes last year and should (with one possible exception) play even fewer minutes this season concludes the player-by-player review of the 2007-08 season.

Mario West

West didn't play much; his 270 minutes were spread over 64 games with 20 appearances consisting of less than one minute of playing time. West's effort was always obvious even as he displayed skills useful to winning basketball games less frequently. Part of the problem lay not with West but with Mike Woodson utilizing a player poorly (Shock! Horror!) . Rather than using West's energy to disrupt the opposition's second unit for a couple of minutes every so often, Woodson decided that Mario West was a defensive stopper who should guard the other team's best wing player for one half-court possession at the end of a quarter. West usually responded to this assignment by committing a foul at the first opportunity.*

*Mario West scored 59 points, grabbed 48 rebounds, and committed 61 fouls in his 270 minutes of playing time.

West played fairly well in the two games he started, scoring 11 points and grabbing 7 offensive rebounds in 31 minutes. If you put him on the court with good players the other team may forget about him long enough for him contribute positively. If he hopes to stay in the league as an energy guy for a another season he'll have to learn to defend without fouling. If he hopes to stay in the league for any significant length of time, he'll also need to start knocking down jump shots. He made 2 of 12 jump shots in his rookie year. If he didn't spend the summer working on his lateral movement and shooting thousands of corner three-pointers he'll find Jeremy Richardson or Thomas Gardner holding down his old roster spot.

Solomon Jones

Jones looked every bit the project in his rookie season but there were a few skills (shot selection, free throw shooting, shot blocking) that looked as if they might serve as a foundation for a career coming of the bench and providing useful minutes.

None of those skills were evident in Jones' second season. His field goal percentage fell from 50.8% (128 attempts) to 40% (30 attempts). His free throw shooting dropped from 78.7% (75 attempts) to 55% (20 attempts). He blocked almost half as many shots per minute while committing fouls slightly more frequently. He also managed to turn the ball over on 22% of the offensive possessions he used.

Furthermore, he looked every bit as bad as his numbers would suggest. His lack of basketball awareness or game-readiness rendered his athleticism largely useless. I've no idea why the Hawks have chosen not to send Jones to the D-League so he can get some practice playing basketball. Of course, the bigger question is why they wasted the 33rd pick of the draft of the 2006 Draft on Jones in the first place, other than to demonstrate what can be accomplished when Billy Knight's drafting acumen combines with Mike Woodson's facility for developing young players' skills.

Despite his desperate need for anything approximating game experience, Jones declined to play on the Hawks' summer league team, a decision which should make it more likely that the Hawks trade him for someone, anyone willing to take on his guaranteed contract.

Jeremy Richardson

Over the last two years, Jeremy Richardson has played 152 minutes of NBA basketball across 33 games for 4 different teams. It would be folly to try and derive any meaning from his NBA stats.

He's scored effectively and efficiently in over 1000+ D-league minutes. He deserves a chance not just to make the 2008-09 Hawks roster but to earn some minutes in the rotation (If only due to Josh Childress's massive absence.) as either a shooter or scorer, essentially serving as second-unit insurance for both Maurice Evans' jump shot and Acie Law IV's dribble penetration.

Salim Stoudamire

Salim will be missed by those of us prone to forever believe in his potential to serve as a (likeable) Jannero Pargo type. Rarely used in any way that made sense during his final season in Atlanta, Stoudamire compounded matters by shooting the ball often and with very little success in his rare appearances setting career lows in two-point, three-point, and free throw shooting. Still, I'll root for him wherever he ends up.


Anonymous said...

Great round up of the Hawks Players :)

I have included this blog into my Atlanta Hawks Aggregator :)

CoCo said...

Brett, I too will root for Salim wherever he ends up.

Anonymous said...

It's not that we had no useful players on the bench...those players were seldom put in a position where they were likely to succeed. Misapplication of the tools available to him-that's what Woodson should be most remembered for.

Bret LaGree said...

And we won't have to remember as Woodson's sure to display his signature coaching characteristic early and often again this Autumn.

Anonymous said...

J Rich needs more playing time.. for real