Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Game Observations - Nuggets @ Hawks and more

Preamble Ramble

Yes, it's been 4 days since this game and only moments away from the Knicks game, but it's better late than never around here, so let's go with game observations vs. worrying about a full blown recap. We also want to touch on LeBron James, Shelden Williams, and Joe's Eastern Conference Player of the Week award...Seacrest In!

Game Recap - Hawks 125, Nuggets 100

Overall Observations:
  • I'm sure that others will disagree, but really I'm not sure there's anything you can glean for the long term from this game. The Nuggets didn't come to play, so take everything we say with that in mind.
  • The Hawks did what they were supposed to do. Blow out a disinterested team at home.
  • The Hawks responded to Joe's carping about lack of effort. That would be considered a great thing.
  • If you want to know if we've grown up, let's see if we can dispose quickly of a bad Knicks team on the road on 4 days rest and not look past them toward the ESPN telecast and clash with the Boston Celtics.
  • Now, to Joe's carping about selfish basketball, it's been said before by other bloggers, but we'll just reiterate that Joe is correct about the selfish basketball. Though it's selfish by nature of the scheme almost and the iso-Joe is by definition SELFISH. So, my question is - are you calling out the players AND the coach's philosophy? Also, are you calling out yourself? It sounds like leadership when you acknowledge your own failings at the same time. It sounds like bitchin' (some well needed) otherwise.
  • While we're on Joe (yes, we've left the game notes b/c that was all that needed to be said about that game), uh - I thought Osh (thanks Third Falcon for keeping me on point about not giving Osh his J back until it is deserved) and Jamal played better last week than Joe, so it stands to reason that there might even be others who deserved it on other teams. A week when Joe and Chris Kaman are the players of the week reeks of some sort of Donaghy type balloting.
In other NBA news, I would like to make a plea to the Atlanta Spirit. LeBron James said last week that max money is NOT the #1 thing he'll base his decision on at the end of this season. I submit that you make an overture to let LeBron know that WE want YOU. We'll do a sign and trade with whatever players you want. The point being - I want to feel like Rick Sund is positioning us to get a better player than Joe Johnson and that Joe would be our fallback plan. So, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh - if max money isn't #1 on your list...WE WANT YOU!!!!!!

Final note, not as a dig, but is it time to add Shelden Williams to the list of players who we didn't know how to utilize while in Atlanta? He (not Marvin Williams) was the biggest mistake of the Billy Knight era and he certainly should never have been selected #5, but he sure looks like a good rugged big. Our only question is - is it coaching, player leadership, or something else that is making him look that way?

Oh, and I wonder if anyone is still skeptical of my offseason prognostication that it won't be easy to get that #4 seed - we just didn't know that it was going to be the Heat fighting us for it. Let's see if the Wiz (who thought Arenas would be the iron man so far vs. the rest of his team?) or any of these other 'contenders' (yes, you Bulls, Raptors, Sixers) can get the chemistry together.

Let's go Hawks!!! Seacrest Out!!!


Jesse said...

W/R/T Sheldon etc.

Outside of Crawford, Teague, and a few bench warmers, we are looking at Knights team. Sure, some of his picks weren't the best picks at the time nor in retrospect, but by all accounts the players themselves haven't been horrible. We see that now because as the players have been shipped off some of them are starting to come into their own and are becoming productive players (just from looking at some of the numbers because I haven't actually gone out of my way to watch former players).

I've always felt like Knight took way more heat than he deserved because the players he did draft have essentially given us what we have today, a playoff team that is fun and exciting to watch, a reason to really be proud to be a Hawks fan. We can blame him for making the picks, but we can't blame him for anything once they are in the coach's possession. For years, my NBA fantasy team was called 'Closet Hawks Fan' and for good reason.

So, I say that all of this combined with the fact that Knight tried firing Woodson, the know issues with Woody's coaching style and his bad habits, all seem to be clear evidence that Woodson wasn't on the same page as Knights vision for where and what they wanted the Hawks team to be. Maybe with a year or two more of the former players being with a different coach and team we'll be able to fully understand exactly what the reason were why they never seemed to pan out in Atlanta.

thirdfalcon said...

You guys are thinking about this too much. Sheldon was always good for rebounding and toughness of the bench. The Celtics can afford to carry him in that role because they have the depth to. When he was in Atlanta we didn't.

If by misuse you mean using him as anything more than a backup's backup, then your right we did misuse him.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, well, I wasn't trying to start a specific debate about Shelden b/c my real point is less about Shelden Williams being some difference maker for the Hawks (I think most of us didn't think he would be and certainly not as the #5 pick in the draft), but I do think it stands to reason that he (like many other players during Woodson's regime) has more usefulness and productivity to display than displayed here.

My longstanding point with Woodson is that Woodson is not the type of coach to 'coach up' a player. The best example anyone has used for him coaching up a player has been Flip Murray (where I don't think he coached up - he just managed minutes to keep Flip from shooting you out of a game) and Mario West (and I think we all know how I feel about using Mario). So, in areas where you have folks with talents, Mike doesn't know how to bring them out. And I first thought maybe Shelden is a complete and total bust, but his recent play shows that he might not be the #5 player, but he certainly had enough skill to be a consistent rotation player for the Hawks. Hard to understand how he isn't that for an slightly below average and thin bench Hawks team, but is for a loaded, elite championship contending Celtics team.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

And yes, I think that's an indictment on a coach's ability to take lemons and make lemonade, but this isn't new. Mike rolls the ball out and hopes that the team can beat the team they are playing against by showing effort and their talent. if they do that, we can beat anyone. if they don't, well - we'll probably gonna lose. Sorry, but that's the answer...

thirdfalcon said...

It's a lot easier to get production from a marginal player on a championship team than on a thin, lottery team. On an elite team you only have to ask a player to do what he does well (in Sheldon's case rebounding a physical defense). For us Sheldon had to contribute in more areas because we didn't have players that were capable of making things easy for him. That's why they are elite, and we weren't/aren't.

I haven't seen much of Sheldon this year, but based on his stats, it looks like he is rebounding extremely well, and probably getting a lot of putbacks and heavily assisted close 2 point shots.

I am pretty confident in saying that he could play at a similar level as a 4th big for us this year as opposed to the first big off the bench role that he played for us his rookie year and the half season that he played for us.

I'm also confident in saying that the time he has had to spend in the weight room, and the experience he has gotten on the floor has as much to do with his improved rebounding numbers as anyone "coaching him up".

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, you know what all that sounds like - a big ol' excuse for why Mike Woodson never has anything to do with anything. Sorry, but we'll just disagree completely on my overall point. You make my whole point with your argument - my point was that Woodson didn't use Williams with what he's good at and I can say that for Williams, Diaw, Stoudamire, Law, and even current Hawks like Osh Smith. I don't think that has anything to do with how good your team is. Williams wasn't asked to do anything other than be tough, play D, and rebound and he was worse at it in his 2nd year than he was in his 1st.

Sorry, but I'm of the opinion that coaching has something to do with that. Too many players have REGRESSED under Woodson for me to believe he's not complicit in some of this.

thirdfalcon said...

It's not really an excuse for Woodson as much as it is evidence that players are far more important than coaching. I just think that most of these guys are interchangeable. What really matters is how the pieces fit together.

I don't give Woodson credit for "coaching up" Jamal Crawford, other than to say he has managed his minutes well. On the other side of the coin I don't blame him for Marvin's play thus far. The roster has changed to the point that Marvin's role has been diminished. He either can't or won't adapt at this point by focusing on rebounding and defense more.

Players have talent or they don't. The coaches job is to put them in situations where their talent allows them to be successful, and to convince them to accept their roles. That's really all any of them ever do.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Well, I only would agree with only one part of what you said and that's what the coach's job is and I just happen to emphasize that that job is the difference btw championship contender and also ran.

So, I certainly blame Mike Woodson for Marvin's lack of a role in the offense, particularly with the amount of time in the 'system' and the fact that the 7 of the top 8 players on the roster have been here for 2 years and 5 of those 7 have been here for 3 or more - how can a lack of clarity in the role be anything but the coach's fault.

Are you making an assertion that Marvin is solely at fault for that? Anyway, I know we aren't going to agree on the depth of Woodson's ineptitude, but it's cool. We'll see how it all plays out come playoff time.

thirdfalcon said...

Well, the main thing that Marvin did on offense last year was shot kick-out 3 point shots. So it's his fault that he's hasn't shot as well so far. Woodson can't shoot the ball for him. What also isn't Woodson's fault is that there are is less ball to go to Marvin this year. I would just say that someone that's as big and can jump as well as Marvin should probably be pulling down more rebounds.

I'm really at a loss to tell you what his role in the offense should be right now. Id rather Have Josh or Horford finishing in transition. I'd rather have Joe, Jamal, or Josh with the ball in one-on-one situations, or driving the ball in general. And I'd rather have Joe, Bibby, or Mo shooting jumpshots. And it's not like he has much of a post-up game (which is borderline inexcusable considering he's pretty big for a small foward).

So what should his role be other than an offensive utility guy, a perimeter defender, and a rebounder? I'd say he is what he should be right now, the fifth option in the offense. It's not Woodson's fault we have better offensive players than Marvin is it?

rbubp said...

"Oh, and I wonder if anyone is still skeptical of my offseason prognostication that it won't be easy to get that #4 seed - we just didn't know that it was going to be the Heat fighting us for it."

So it seems you're suggesting the current pace is a good predictor for the season?

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'm not suggesting anything other than my point about the other teams catching up to us had merit then (despite a lot of messages to the contrary) and I think it has more merit now.

This doesn't mean I think ultimately that we can't be the 4th seed, but I also won't be shocked if we're not. Simple as that.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, well - let me say it this way...I think Marvin has more offensive talent if he's NOT the 5th option. So, I think he's better served coming off the bench and playing 25 minutes as a primary scorer vs. the 2nd team. And that's Woodson's fault for not recognizing that part.

I can't say that you're wrong about the rest of that stuff. My point is that (and you may disagree) I think Marvin has more talent and that he doesn't use it b/c his talent doesn't project that he get the ball before Osh or Joe and for the sake of balance, Al. So, basically it's give the open 3 to him or Bibby. Since Bibby is the PG, he's gonna give himself some opps before Williams, so to me - I'd rather him be aggressive and ready to shoot and play D and rebound on the 2nd team than on the first team.

And that decision and making sure he has a role that helps the team is Woodson's fault. You're correct - it's not Woodson's fault that he isn't doing that in his current state. I would say it's Woodson's fault for not having Marvin buy into that role on the starting 5. To me, that's a coach's job to make sure everyone buys into their role.

thirdfalcon said...

I think he is talented enough to put up better numbers. And I think he will without anything changing. His shooting numbers are pretty bad right now, so I expect those to come up. but I'm not sure if his talent warrants more shots over other players on this team. If he was on the Kings or whatever he would have a better offensive role, and better stats.

So I think this team has an abundance of firepower right now, and Marvin is (rightly) the odd man out.

That's why I think moving Marvin to the bench is worth a shot. Mo Evans can do what Marvin is doing right now, but Marvin could probably do more with the second unit. It's not a slam dunk to me though, just worth a shot. And really that's just a way to get Marvin more minutes at power forward which I also think could work well because the way he can space the floor is such a drastic change from when we have Josh in there.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@ok, we agree on this as a plausible thing that we can try. My main concern (and it's not a burning concern, but concern nonetheless) is that I don't want Marvin coasting and that's what I think this abundance of firepower does to him.

He's a passive guy by nature and so I fear that he's not going to know when he needs to step up. Similar to Horford - they are such good teammates that they are cool with the deference to Joe and Osh and I think that's bad. At the point that you need them, they won't know how to take the load that they need to take, which is sure to come as soon as teams get in the postseason and end up saying - ok, we won't let Joe shoot and we won't let Osh do anything but shoot jumpers. Now, what you got Hawks? At that point, I want us to be smart enough to not depend on Jamal and Mike Bibby jumpers and that means Al and Marvin need to be involved to the point that they can take the weight...that's all

Jesse said...

My only real point was that I always thought Knight took way more heat than was deserved and that some of that heat should have been directed at Woody instead. People can blame him for the picks at the time, but after that, it's really up to the coach to make it all work on the court and I don't think Woodson ever did that effectively.

As for Marvin, I am in agreement. Right now Evans is the better fifth option for the starting five and Marvin would be much more useful coming off the bench with the second unit.