Monday, October 05, 2009

Nuggets From John Hollinger's Player Comments

Atlanta Hawks (Insider)

Mike Bibby:
Look for Bibby to see a reduction in minutes to about 30 or so per game as Atlanta plays more often with Crawford or Teague at the point. Don't be surprised if Bibby's 2-point shooting percentage slips back a bit from last season's heights. That said, his off season in 2007-08 now looks like an outlier, and on a per-minute basis he should come close to matching last season's output.
Jason Collins:
Though he's slipped form his peak years in New Jersey, he still frustrates opposing post players with his size, textbook positioning and knack for drawing charges. He's a good help defender, too, and though he doesn't block shots he protects the basket with his size and positioning. His vertical leap is measured in angstroms, however, and his lack of ups makes him both an awful rebounder and an absolutely horrendous finisher.
Jamal Crawford:
Crawford is as disinterested a defender as there is in basketball. He makes token efforts to get through screens and challenge shots, and he routinely jogs back in transition. He has the length and quickness to be quite good and can hold his own in isolations for that reason, but his idea of help defense is catching the inbound pass after the ball goes through the basket.
Al Horford:
His lack of offensive creativity and shooting ability lowers his ceiling, but even if he doesn't improve one iota from this day forward, his solid defense and rebounding make him a valuable piece. Look for him to average around 13 and 10 with a shooting percentage in the low 50s, with little potential for surprise in either direction.
Joe Johnson:
Although he made his third straight All-Star team, Johnson isn't producing points as efficiently as he once did. He shot 43.7 percent to follow 2007-08's 43.2 percent, and his true shooting percentage slipped below the league average for his position. Once again, midrange jumpers proved his undoing. Johnson's shot mix has been almost exactly the same his last four seasons, but in his first two seasons in Atlanta, he made 42.2 percent of his long J's; the past two seasons, he's at 36.8 percent. Multiply that over 300 shots a season and it makes a big difference.
Zaza Pachulia:
Defensively, Pachulia gets by with brawn rather than speed. He's a poor leaper and doesn't defend the rim -- only three centers blocked shots less often. He has reasonably good feet, however, and has become a good pick-and-roll defender. Additionally, his physicality helps keep opposing post players away from the rim.
Joe Smith:
Smith fell off the radar with his trade to Oklahoma City, and so did his offense. He lost more than four points off his 40-minute scoring average despite playing much of the season for a team desperate for more scoring. His usage rate slipped by nearly a third, one of the biggest one-season drops you'll ever see, as he became a much-less-adventurous shooter. This benefited his turnover rate, which ranked third among power forwards, but it didn't improve his percentages any. Smith landed only 37.6 percent of his long 2s, and his free-throw rate plummeted to just one foul shot for every four field-goal attempts.

The net result was a three-point drop in PER that makes his 2007-08 season seem like an outlier. While he gave Cleveland some strong minutes early in the playoffs after his late-season liberation from the Thunder, he was an afterthought in the conference finals, where his inability to match up defensively against Orlando's frontcourt rendered him unplayable.
Marvin Williams:
Williams shifted from taking 436 long 2s in 2007-08 to just 115 last season, which translates into nearly three-quarters of his long 2s vanishing overnight.

Instead, he pursued higher-value shots, both farther and closer. He tried nearly three 3-pointers a game last season and made a respectable 35.5 percent, while taking more than half his 2-point shots in the immediate basket area. Williams maintained his high free-throw rate, ranking seventh among small forwards in free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt, and shot a solid 80.6 percent at the stripe. The net result was a jump to 56.9 in true shooting percentage.

Williams also did yeoman's work on the boards, ranking ninth among small forwards in rebound rate, and established himself as the team's defensive stopper on the perimeter.

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