Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Singles and Home Runs

Larry Drew:
"We start playing fast, we start going for home runs and then we start settling. That’s what happened in the second half."
"When you're up by 20 or 22 points, it's not the time to go for home runs. You have to keep getting singles until you eventually wear the team down."
The Hawks take a lot of jump shots.

Entering the Charlotte game, they took, on average, 41 of their 79 shots shots from outside of 16 feet each night. Against Charlotte, that portion increased to 44 of 82 shots.

Atlanta Hawks shooting by quarter vs. Charlotte, 2/12/11

QuarterPtsPossFGMFGA3PTM3PTAFGM (jump shots)FGA (jump shots)

Obviously, it's not ideal to get three extra shots in a game only to use them on jump shots but I'm not at all sure that it should be a surprise that this team did. It's a team full of jump shooters, be it by inclination, indulgence, or usage.

Jump shots by player in the Charlotte game:

Josh Smith: 10
Joe Johnson: 8
Mike Bibby: 8
Al Horford: 7
Jamal Crawford: 6
Marvin Williams: 3 (includes three-point heave at end of first half)
Zaza Pachulia: 1
Mo Evans: 1

That's 39 jump shots from four players Larry Drew has to play to win games plus one player he quite clearly believes he has to play to win games. Josh Smith absolutely doesn't need to take that many jump shots in a week, much less a game, but it's absolutely clear that, like his predecessor, Drew won't demand disciplined shot selection from Smith. But, unless the Hawks figure out a way to get more points in transition or add a ball-handler who can turn the corner on a ball-screen and get Smith or Horford the ball on pick-and-roll rather than pick-and-pop, it's difficult to envision how they get away from the jump shot.

Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby are not going to become, at their ages, guys who can attack the basket off the dribble. Al Horford is more effective as a face-up shooter than with his back to the basket. Marvin Williams is approaching a Josh Childress level of disposability within the organization. Zaza Pachulia is just a joint-second string center now. Jeff Teague doesn't even get on the court in almost 20% of the games.

The Hawks are a jump shooting team that struggles to get to the free throw line. They are when they win and they are when they lose. Some changes around the margins of the team's offensive attack could lessen the team's reliance on the jumper but the greatest difference between effective an ineffective offense will mostly remain whether or not the jump shots are going in the basket.


Adam Malka said...

You know what the best part of the baseball analogy is? Larry Drew is channeling Jeff Francoeur:

"That was a lot of fun. You just keep pounding balls into the gap. The one thing you don't want to do is hit a home run. That's a rally-killer."

jrauch said...

I'm beginning to think this entire season is some sort of Andy Kaufman-esue joke perpetrated on the fan base with Larry Drew as the star performer.

Just when you think the Hawks have run out of ways to drive you insane and lose in just about every way imaginable, they surprise you...

I'm looking forward to our annual playoff dismantling by the Orlando Magic.