Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hoops Analyst: Schreiber: Atlanta Hawks Transactions

Harlan Schreiber weighs in on the Tracy McGrady and Vladimir Radmanovic signings:
Did you know that T-Mac is only 32? In a part-time role, McGrady wasn’t actually that bad for the Pistons either. The problem is that one of the most exciting players of the 2000s is now, at best, an average bench guy who can’t really get to the line and is a decent shooter. On a playoff-level team, T-Mac’s presence as a cheap filler will have value, assuming the knees hold up well enough. The hope, though, is that McGrady can replace Jamal Crawford off the bench. At first blush this seems silly. McGrady can’t move very well these days and Crawford got ridiculously hot at times. Looking at the advanced metrics, though, T-Mac actually had a slightly higher PER than Crawford (14.9 to 14.2) and shot exactly the same from three (.341%). Does this mean that McGrady is a more valuable player? Well…no. Part of Crawford’s value was the ability to generate tons of shots (13.7 shots and 4.1 free throws per-36 versus 11.0 and 2.8 for McGrady). The Hawks are downgrading on 2010-11 stats (though not by as much as you would think). Still when you combine the volume with the possibility that McGrady might get hurt again or continue his steep decline from his peak, there is plenty of risk that the Hawks will have a big hole at backup sixth man.

As for Radmanovic, he has demonstrated that he will never be a regular but is also useful in a bench role. While Vlad still can’t play any defense and is thus not a viable starter, he will help the Hawks replace the tons of threes lost when Crawford doesn’t come back. In short, the Hawks’ filler is useful but has some holes.
It's going to be heart-in-mouth time whenever a Hawks player turns an ankle this season, but lack of depth is the price you pay for not planning long-term and/or willfully limiting your cap flexibility.


Bronnt said...

Fortunately, if Jeff Teague is useful, it should have a trickle down effect. He's more valuable than Mike Bibby as a starter, which pushes Kirk Hinrich to the sixth man role when he's healthy. He should be at least as useful as a sixth man as Jamal Crawford was. He's actually shot better from 3 in his career, though he's not the shot creator Crawford is. But factor in better defense, and he comes out ahead.

Then it continues to trickle on down. McGrady can be more valuable than Damien Wilkins, and Radmanovich can be more valuable than Josh Powell-at least, he can actually hit the kinds of shots that Josh Powell should never have taken.

If Pape Sy can just carve out a niche, somehow, this bench built on the cheap should provide much more utility than the same team from last year (health permitting, of course). Really, the only thing I'd like to see them add is a back-up for Josh Smith who can bang on defense. Perhaps that is one of the young bigs on the roster, or perhaps there's one more vet min signing to be made, but the roster already looks pretty solid to me. Right now, I'm much more optimistic about this team than I have any right to be.

Andy McCullough said...

Bronn has some good comments. Except any Hawk fan should temper that optimism with the reality that Hinrich will be out for a good part of the shorted season and the reality that no matter what, they are still the Hawks. So expect some nights when they play focused and with passion that seems unstoppable against any opponent followed by nights of inexplicable dumb, selfish basketball that causes them to get blown out.

Bronnt said...

Andy, I certainly would feel much better about this team if they were making a coaching change, in an attempt to change the culture. But I think it's interesting that the Hawks are making sensible moves while having almost no cap space. If only the past 2-3 years had been spent pursuing better value instead of very deliberately maintaining the status quo. We might actually the flexibility to make some kind of sign and trade of Jamal Crawford.