Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Los Angeles Lakers 101 Atlanta Hawks 87


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
LAL 83
37.1 12
ATL 83 1.048 44

The Atlanta Hawks can compete with any team in the league as long as their jump shots go in. When they don't, they can't because they aren't, as a team, especially good at anything. Against lesser teams, the Hawks can take advantage of being not bad in a number of areas and punish the inferior team for its mistakes. Against better teams, the Hawks aren't offered nearly as many mistakes to punish (only two teams in the league force turnovers less often) and frequently fall victim to the variance inherent in shooting a lot of jump shots.

It's a game like this that gives the lie to scapegoating effort after losses. The Hawks (outside of a not-so-surprising 5 cumulative defensive rebounds from Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, and Marvin Williams in more than 98 cumulative minutes) were not lacking for effort. They grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. They scored 20 fast break points. They held Los Angeles to five fast break points. Zaza Pachulia scored eight points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and was one of six Hawks, despite the team scoring just 87 points and making just 33 field goals, to earn at least a pair of assists. Damien Wilkins got himself open enough to score 10 points on six shots. The Hawks lost, the Hawks were clearly inferior, to the Lakers not because of a relative lack of effort (unless one wishes to categorize the long-standing, organization-wide lack of accountability as a kind of effort) but because of a relative lack of talent: on the court, on the sideline, and in the front office.

Larry Drew was given a difficult, if not impossible task, before the season. If he is to succeed, he'll either have to implement a heretofore hidden solution to get this group of players easy points at the bucket and the free throw line or exhibit the courage to leverage the second guaranteed year of his contract into forcing those above him to provide more and more varied talent for him to coach.


Keith Box said...

I agree. I would add that Larry Drew has not yet shown me that he has the vision to utilize better talent on the bench. His penchant for playing Josh Powell and leaving Zaza on the bench is mind boggling. Larry also has an obvious preference for shooters than he does defenders. Look at Jeff Teague. He's not a good shooter and wasn't one at the college level. However, Jeff was always a guy that attacked the basket and created things with his penetrating ability, and he's proven in short bursts that he has the capability of being a good defender. What does Larry do though? Instead of using him to his strengths, Larry tries to make him into a spot up jump shooter. So now, when Teague doesn't play aggressively and his shots aren't falling, he gets yanked out the game. At the same time, we put up with defensive lapses and poor shooting efforst from the likes of Jamal Crawford, but there is no recourse for his mistakes.

Adam Malka said...

How close are we to a post about "Al Horford, jump shooter"? Zaza Pachulia may be the only Hawks player left who is interested in establishing an inside presence.

(I just threw up a little)

jrauch said...

Al is fourth in the league in the field goal percentage, shooting at nearly a 57 percent clip, so I don't think Al taking jump shots is the problem.

Its the entire team's reliance on jump shots, particularly when several guys (Joe Johnson, Jamal, Josh Smith) would rather take a long two from a foot inside the three point line, than a proper three pointer.

Why, given the team's love of the jump shot, Drew hasn't focused them on just jacking up more threes than the woefully inefficient long-twos is beyond me.

You'd think, at minimum, something like that would be something the players would buy into.

Adam Malka said...

I love Horford--undoubtedly my favorite player on the team--and I have no problem with the overall body of work. But it's clear that he, like others, is representative of the team's offensive philosophy. Perhaps there was no way a team like the Hawks, designed as they are, could have beaten a team as long and big and talented as the Lakers. But they almost look as if they don't know how to go inside; occasionally Horford and Smith will make a play and do it themselves (less and less frequently in the latter's case), but lately they have just looked hapless as a unit when trying to do so. And when they fail, they just start the dribble dribble shoot game, which is basically a concession.

All to say: I wonder how much of the jump shooting is a product of Drew's offense, and of his inability to design sets that get his bigs inside.

Bronnt said...

Also might be time for "Joe Johnson...jumpshooter?" because I'm not even sure if that's true any more. He's becoming a terribly inefficient scorer.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am thoroughly unsurprised to not see the Hawks on this list -- http://www.nbastuffer.com/component/option,com_glossary/Itemid,90/catid,44/func,view/term,NBA%20Teams%20That%20Have%20Analytics%20Department/

Keith Box said...

Maybe Horford realizes that the only way he is going to get shots is to shoot jumpers, because they sure as hell don't try to establish him in the post.

Anonymous said...

I see that link didn't work. Here is the tiny version -- http://tinyurl.com/4pp9fr3

Or if you don't trust me :) -- http://preview.tinyurl.com/4pp9fr3