Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Honesty Corner's 5 Truths: Vol. 12

We're back and it's time to provide our signature weekly article about our fair Hawks.  Since everyone and their mama wants to do a game recap about the Hawks these days, it's up to me to say what everyone says they want, but aren't always ready to hear (as in don't tell your significant other how they REALLY look in those jeans). So, it's time to read the disclaimer and then - let's go...

Disclaimer: As always, all criticisms come after blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group first, management second, and then coaches and players last.  Those criticisms come through the prism of winning championships (or the things that result in championship team building). 

Truth 1. Jeff Teague is the #1 key to this season (like he was last season).

Everyone knows that I created the Jeff Teague Fan Club, then built a bus with my blog boo, CoCo, and we rode around town for a full year getting eggs and bird droppings all over it before we finally started getting the rest of the Hawk fans to jump onboard.  The bus is now on blocks because it's too many folks claiming how much they love Jeff Teague and why he should have been starting since he was at Wake Forest. It's so bad that former Peachtree Hoops blogger, Drew, retired after being so famously wrong about Mike Bibby's value to the Hawks (or at least that's how I recall it). And yet, it's still true that the Hawks will not be a factor in the playoffs in a point guard driven league without Jeff Teague being a major cog on this team.  He can potentially be the 3rd most important player for this team (yes, I believe he can mean more than Al Horford) and he's already pushing to be the difference between another uninspired run through the playoffs or serving notice that the Hawks should be respected like the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders.  

Truth 2. Larry Drew doesn't trust Marvin Williams to close basketball games.
Has Marvin done anything to not trust him to be a great contributor throughout the game. I could have missed that, but the lack of faith is puzzling since Marvin has played better than I've ever seen.  This is evidenced by how quickly Marvin is pulled and how long it takes to get him back in the game.  His 4th quarter minutes are uh...lacking.  Last year, that was acceptable (desirable even), but this isn't last year. This year, he has showed that he actually could make a mockery of my 3 year plea to make him our 6th man. The sample size is small, but so far - Marvin Williams and crunch time minutes are not a mix.

Truth 3. If the bench gets any better, it's time to trade Kirk Hinrich.

This is probably a good time to mention that Jamal Crawford is not going to be missed.  Watching players who can do more than just hit baskets will be a welcome sight and I honestly believe that by All Star weekend - we'll wonder why we ever fell in love Jamal. The bench so far is much more versatile and complete early this season.  McGrady has been great. Zaza has been steady. V-Rad has shown flashes. Pargo and Green can't get any worse (on knees praying), so there's room for growth.  We could even see if Donald Sloan or Ivan Johnson actually have reason to be played this season. And if that's the case, Kirk Hinrich (like Jamal Crawford) makes too much money to keep him, so it's much more valuable to the franchise to either trade him for a big man or for a cheaper alternative and draft picks in what is projected to be the deepest draft in the last 5 years. So, that we're clear - I like Kirk Hinrich, but if you aren't going to go over the luxury tax, then every player must be evaluated based on their production to salary ratio and he makes too much to be a backup.  C'mon bench - show Kirk the door.

Truth 4. Josh Smith is regressing & Al Horford has become Chuck Hayes good (these are not compliments).

Pains me to say this, but Josh is our most talented player and yet, he's playing worse than I've ever seen him. It's like his basketball IQ has regressed on the offensive end more than ever.  More jump shots, more dribbling on the break. It's just maddening, but what's just as maddening is watching Al Horford turn into Chuck Hayes on the offensive end of the court.  Short of running past centers - I am not sure if we're watching the same games, but Horford has just become a really solid guy who we all want to be some sort of star.  Calling him an All Star just inflates our expectations of Al, but in reality - expecting him to put up a 20-10 when it's needed is becoming a fading pipe dream. As I said while watching him tonight, if you have Ronnie Brewer on your hip and you can't take him into the paint and abuse him, then PROBLEMA, Senor Horford! 

Truth 5. Nobody turns a fast break into a jump shot like the Hawks.

I'm not sure if I'm the only person who sees this as a problem, but I can't for the life of me fathom why we shoot jump shots on at least half of our transition opportunities.  I mean if you're passing them to Ray Allen, fine.  To Kevin Martin or Stephen Curry or any dead eye shooter..ok! But I think we all know that there's no one we're trusting with a stop and pop, so can we just increase the odds of the layup or at a minimum the foul and show why running is a good thing for this squad.

And with that note, that's this week's 5 Truths....agree or disagree if you must, but if it's the Honesty Corner, then it can't be lies.  See you in the comments...


CoCo said...

So many things to touch on. The Marvin Williams thing needs to be addressed. T Mac's resurgence can't come at the expense of Marvin when he's actually playing well. Just leads me to believe that Drew like Woody, isn't coaching the game that's being played. He's coaching the plan that was laid out before the ball ever went up. I hated it when Woody did it, I'm not going to tolerate it coming from Drew. There's no need for me to say anything about Teague, you said it all. He should have been playing. Period. As far as Josh and Al go, I'm tired of waiting for both of them to turn the corner. They both need to, but it's like they're playing hide and go seek, and they're just peeking around every now and then. It's easy to criticize Josh, and you'll have a very long line of people waiting to do so, but no one wants to say anything about Al. I really think people are jaded by the fact that he's such a nice dude. The bottom line is, he hasn't played like an All Star, and he's been to the game so there's no excuse. There's no reason that he shouldn't feel the same amount of heat as the "lesser" players. I was over Kirk, last year. Not much to add there. I can't for the life of me understand Larry Drew's insistence on playing Willie Greene and Janero Pargo together. It's a recipe for disaster. They're liabilities independent of each other. Playing them together is just cruel. Anyway, it's a long short season, so we'll see what happens, but they can be better and the loss tonight was unacceptable. I put most of the blame on Drew. I missed the entire third quarter, but I came back in time to realize it took him way too long in the 4th to call that timeout and get the starters back in the game. Rose and Deng played the whole 4th qtr, yet Drew insisted on sticking to the plan he laid out this afternoon. He's gotta do better.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 1,2 and 4.
Agree with 5 on principle although I haven't seen too much evidence of jump shooting in transition from the hawks. Jump shooting in the half court offense...

Now trading Kirk, I cant agree with that unless we get a first rounder or a rotation player back. As good as our bench is looking now there are quite a few injury risks in there so we need Kirk as insurance.

We may not win a title this year but the conference finals is possible and I wouldn't want to jeopardize that for anything less than a first rounder.

Larry Stewart said...

@Anonymous Well, I would ask you simply to watch the rest of the transition opportunities for the next 5 games - I'd say that half of our fast breaks at a minimum end in a jump shot. I'd be ok with it if this was college and we were shooting threes to compensate, but since it isn't and we aren't hitting a high enough percentage of said jump shots - it's driving me crazy. (This along with the lack of guard led breaks).

But to Kirk...again, here's where our management has to make a tough decision. Trust me, I'd love to watch Kirk mix with this team instead of Pargo, but the natural order of things is that the Hawks will not be in the ECF. The Bulls and Heat have better players with more experience and that always wins the ECF and Finals slots. Not only that - we're not the only upstart that would be in line should the Bulls and Heat falter or more likely end up with some injury that causes a slot to open up. The Celtics have experience, the Pacers have some pieces, and the Magic are basically the Hawks with a superstar and lesser supporting cast. So, we can't just assume that we are a lock to stop in.

So, you can want to see Kirk and forget that he's leaving next year, but we can't afford him if it's not for a title run. He costs too much to be a backup on a team with needs, so unless your belief is that Kirk is the final piece..and a piece we are going to retain, then he must go and there's really no other answer or else he's going to be the next player (cough, Jamal Crawford) that we lose without getting any value back in return.

Anonymous said...

I'll concede the transition point. I haven't watched as many games this season as I would have liked to and you're most likely right. I will say that you need to get used to the forward led breaks. Until Teague gets confident/authoritative enough to demand the ball from horford and especially smith thats not going to change.

Onto Kirk, I agree its a crucial decision for management and I hope they dont screw it up, but I will argue that this situation is very different from Jamal's situation.
We were capped out (the luxury tax being the hard cap for this team obviously) this year and thats what made it so difficult to replace Jamal's production (on a related note thank god for TMac).
If Kirk leaves next year we're still 8-10 million under the cap so Kirk's production can be replaced even if he leaves (or he can be brought back if you prefer that).
Now you could say give this management group the MLE and they will blow it on a terrible signing and I'll counter that a terrible trade is no different.
So I dont see trading Kirk as a necessity but rather as an option you use only if the right deal comes along and I dont see that happening unless a contender/near contender has a significant injury at the guard position.

Now about this year. Kirk is definitely not the final piece this year in fact as I will mention later the championship (or even the finals) are a distinct impossibility barring a minor miracle. However, I think the ECF is possible because we match up well with the Bulls. Now I agree with you that they are the favorites but our bench is better this year. That combined with improved play from Horford, Joe and Marvin and we may have a shot at taking down the bulls in the playoffs. Now the improved bench play is hurt quite a bit if you replace Captain Kirk with Pargo/Green. Is the ECF worth keeping Kirk. Maybe not. But unless theres clearly more value to be had from trading him I dont see a reason to damage a chance at the best postseason result the Hawks have seen in Atlanta.

Disclaimer: I have read quite a lot of your stuff so I know your general position. I figured I should let you in on mine if we're having a discussion. So the basic philosophical difference as i see it, your suggestions are aimed at building a championship contender assuming the management doesn't change. My problem is I don't think we will ever have a realistic contender with this management group. They dont have the smarts/resources to compete with the best which means they will always make bad decisions.
So I'm kinda hoping for the best possible result every season which this season is the ECF in my opinion. I'm also hoping that the spirit sell to someone more invested in winning but that seems like such a pipe dream :)