Sunday, February 12, 2012

What Quality of Opponent Means to the Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have killed inferior teams. They're 13-1 against teams below .500, outscoring those opponents by 14.8 points per 100 possessions.

The Hawks have struggled against teams with .500 records or better, going 5-8 and getting outscored by 5 points per 100 possessions.

Some comparisons:

OpponentOff EffDef EffTS%FT RateOR%DR%TO%Opp TO%
under .500113.298.455.222.428.876.214.717.5
over .5009810350.6

Against average or better opponents, the Hawks have been just as bad offensively as bad teams have been while going 1-13 against them. It's an across-the-board offensive failing. The Hawks shoot worse from the field, rebound far fewer of those missed shots, get to the line less often, and turn the ball over more often.

It's a bit worse for the current-state Hawks than even that table suggests. The Hawks went 2-3 against teams with winning records before Al Horford got hurt. They've gone 3-5 against those teams without Horford. That's not a big difference record-wise (.400 vs. .375). It's a bit different if you look at the efficiency margin:

over .500
Off EffDef EffMargin
w/ Horford101.3100.6+0.7
w/o Horford95.8104.6-8.8

Though he was a frustratingly low usage player this season, even by his standards, before he tore his pectoral, the Hawks really benefited from the efficiency he offered on the possessions he did use against better opponents. Especially since two of the team's most efficient players*, Marvin Williams (56.1 TS%) and Tracy McGrady (55.9 TS%), rarely share the court.

*Teague (55.6) and Pachulia (58.8) both have good True Shooting Percentages themselves but they also turn the ball over more often than McGrady and much more often than Williams, who, this season, is shooting the ball well, getting to the free throw line, rebounding and not turning the ball. He's playing a career low minutes per game. Go figure.


Mark Phelps said...

I am forever unhappy with Marvin's minutes, but on a side note, the Hawks have beaten two +.500 teams back-to-back, and Josh has come up big on the glass. Do you think that is one of the keys to making the leap to the next level?

Bret LaGree said...

Mark --

Rebounding was a huge factor in the Indian game, as the Hawks turned Indiana's misses into transition points in the first half.

Another factor in both wins was three-point shooting. The Hawks took 38 three-pointers in the two games. In the first 11 games against teams above .500, they only attempted 15 three-pointers a game, despite making 38% of them.

pablo debs said...

i feel as though the coach has no idea what to do with the marvin-tmac setup, i honestly know tracy could contribute more if he was starting. no matter what your told 7 time all stars ans 2 time leading scorers dont like sitting on the bench.

Buddy Grizzard said...

The difference with and without Horford becomes even more dramatic when you consider that the Hawks could have been 5-1 against teams above .500. If Drew hadn't instructed his team not to foul with 5 seconds to play at home against Miami and if he had tried trapping Derrick Rose in the 4th quarter of the loss to Chicago instead of expecting Teague to guard him 1-on-1 in isolation, this contrast would be even more stark.

I wrote that Zaza could replace much of Horford's production in terms of rebounding and scoring if given Horford's minutes as a starter. His performance this month against All-Star centers I feel has vindicated me there. But Zaza can't replace Horford, as the numbers show. Nevertheless as Bret said, it raises the question why Zaza wasn't given consistent minutes in the first place. I guess LD thought Josh Powell was a better NBA center than Zaza, just like he thought Bibby was a better point guard than Teague.