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  1. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images Digging into the fourth-year wing. The basketball players I’m often most interested in are glue guys. The NBA is a superstar’s league, with many of the same players going deep in the postseason each year. Glue guys exist on the margins; they show up with a big three every now and then, maybe with a clutch steal, but they are generally perceived as secondary/accessory parts to the main engines of the league. These players usually have a more narrowly defined skill set, with clear weak points, and typically don’t post numbers that leap out on a box sheet. For three years, fans of the Atlanta Hawks were treated to one of the better exemplars of the glue guy archetype in Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha’s work, particularly on defense, radiated beyond his raw numbers. As such, the veteran’s value was most present in the effectiveness of lineups he infused with his selective offense, cerebral defense, and overall usefulness. While few glue guys achieve Sefolosha’s impact, others can copy his blueprint: knowing your weaknesses, picking your spots, and prioritizing making winning plays. Every team needs players like that. Without a player like Sefolosha on the current Hawks roster, I’ve turned my interest to DeAndre’ Bembry. Dubbed the “Tasmanian Devil” by Cole Zwicker of The Stepien, Bembry is a double-edged sword of a glue guy. Since he was drafted, along with Taurean Prince, in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft, Hawks fans have become accustomed to the ‘DeAndre’ Bembry Experience,’ best encapsulated by a savvy steal leading to a transition opportunity, then (at least occasionally) to a turnover. Indeed, over his four seasons in Atlanta, Bembry has never posted a turnover percentage better than 13th percentile among his position, per Cleaning the Glass, including this season. Apart from his rookie year, he has never failed to rank below 87th percentile in steal percentage, either. Blessed with great hands, but not always great discretion, Bembry has been a maddening player in some respects. An afterthought in his first two seasons, he has ascended to a regular role in Atlanta’s rotation under Lloyd Pierce. Travis Schlenk will soon have a decision to make regarding his future with the team. Bembry, whose rookie deal expires at the end of the season, has shown glimpses, but not substance. As a potential “second contract” player, Bembry might be worth a longer look. But first, let’s take a look at what he’s doing this season. Improved offensive efficiency No one would consider Bembry a good offensive player — or even necessarily a solid one — at this juncture. For the entirety of his early career, he’s been an overall negative on offense. Pick a metric: BPM, PIPM, RPM, etc., and Bembry is a minus on the offensive end. His aforementioned penchant for turning the ball over has been a major problem. So, too, has his outside shooting. For his career, he’s a 28 percent shooter from three-point range, a paltry mark for a wing. While he’s still somewhat of a young player at age 25, it’s unlikely that he ever develops into anything approaching a consistent threat from beyond the arc; his team will settle for him knocking down the occasional open corner three. But that limitation from the perimeter, in conjunction with his poor decision making with the ball, present daunting challenges in becoming a neutral offensive player. It’s possible — or even likely — that he never becomes a positive on offense. That said, he has made improvements through the quarter mark of the campaign. As of Dec. 5, Bembry is currently posting his highest career true shooting percentage, at a below-average, yet reasonable, mark of 52 percent. Likewise, he also has career bests in effective field goal percentage (75th percentile) and points per shot attempt (42nd percentile). These are acceptable marks for a defense-first wing, and especially one with perceived offensive deficiencies like Bembry. How he’s accomplished this is interesting. Paradoxically, in spite of his improvements in efficiency, Bembry is currently posting his lowest average in three point percentage since his rookie season, at a woeful 26 percent. But, for the most part, he barely attempts them. Amid an offense that prioritizes three point volume, just 22 percent of Bembry’s shot attempts come from beyond the arc, down from 25 percent from the past season. Overall, he ranks in the 10th percentile among his position in percentage of shot attempts from three. When he does shoot triples, he prefers the shorter distance from the corners; almost half of his three point attempts come from the corners, good for 69th percentile and up from 26th percentile from the season prior. He’s also cut back on his attempts from mid-range. After ranking 29th percentile in all shots from mid-range, he’s down to just 8th percentile in that category. And almost all of his mid-range shots are of the short variety, where he ranks an elite 96th percentile in accuracy. Overall, Bembry has been more selective with his jumpers this season, from both mid-range and deep, and it’s translated to better efficiency. Moreover, the 25-year-old is largely eschewing jumpers in favor of more shots at the rim, which are better shots. A remarkable 62 percent of Bembry’s shots come at the rim, which puts him in the 100th percentile for his position. I think it’s likely that the coaching staff has worked with him to prioritize shots at the rim, since he’s unlikely to generate the sort of analytically-friendly looks they want from the perimeter. And with a 58% field goal percentage at the rim (56th percentile), Bembry has translated his volume into acceptable efficiency. Taken together, while his turnover issues have not subsided, Bembry’s improved efficiency has resulted in his posting the best offensive box plus/minus of his career so far, by a large margin. For his career, he’s averaged a very poor -3.5 OBPM, which is an estimate of the offensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league average player. This season, Bembry has contributed a -1.6 OBPM — still below average, but much more acceptable. His offensive improvement, in tandem with his usual good work on the defensive end (+1.2 DBPM), works out to a net -0.4 box plus/minus; considering that a BPM of 0.0 is league average, Bembry is playing at an above-replacement rate (-2). He’s been at the level of a rotation player, a strong step in the positive direction in his development. With the usual caveat that this is still the early going of the 2019-20 campaign, and he could regress, it’s encouraging to see Bembry becoming less of a nuisance on offense, allowing him to maximize his defensive contributions. Bembry’s role with the Hawks Coming into the season, there were doubts whether Bembry would find consistent playing time at all. Following the offseason additions of Evan Turner and Jabari Parker - two similarly poor outside shooters - it was reasonable to wonder if the Hawks’ second unit could find enough spacing to accommodate Bembry in the final year of his rookie contract. Not helping matters, Atlanta used significant draft capital on De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, providing further competition for minutes for a player on an expiring contract. However, a phasing out of Bembry has not come to pass, at least to this point. Although Atlanta’s run of injuries have played a role, Bembry is currently achieving a career high in minutes per game. Coach Pierce seems to like Bembry, and even when the Hawks are back to full strength, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which he would drop out of Atlanta’s rotation. And nor should he, as he remains the Atlanta’s best perimeter defender. Advanced metrics favor Bembry’s defense. Among metrics which measure defensive impact, Bembry consistently grades out as Atlanta’s best wing defender. He leads all qualifying Hawks perimeter players in FiveThirtyEight’s defensive RAPTOR rating. He does the same in BBall-Index’s D-PIPM metric, and in Basketball Reference’s defensive box plus/minus. Over his career, Bembry has maintained a 2.3 percent steal rate. This season, he’s posting a career high 2.7 percent, which ranks 98th percentile for his position. A playmaking defender with a sturdy 6’6 frame and a 6’9 wingspan, Bembry has great instincts for accumulating stocks — blocks and steals — and he has the athleticism and versatility to defend both guard spots. Notably, Pierce has chosen to take Trae Young out of the game in crucial defensive situations in order to take advantage of Bembry’s ability to deter opposing point guards. Effectively, Bembry operates as the familiar “energy guy” off the bench, bringing defensive intensity and a bit of creation, as well. He can certainly hurt you on his bad offensive nights, but there simply aren’t many options for impact defense on Atlanta’s roster. As a pending restricted free agent (should the Hawks levy a qualifying offer), Schlenk should take the full view of what Bembry brings to the table. Despite being 25, Bembry is still young in development years, having only played 64 games in his first two seasons before playing all 82 last year. Somewhat like his former teammates, Kent Bazemore, it’s possible Bembry could be a late bloomer, rewarding the team that invests in him. Long-term outlook in Atlanta With significant cap space next summer, Schlenk will have no shortage of options for filling out Atlanta’s rotation in 2020. He could look to any number of options in free agency, as well as the draft, which might prohibit Bembry’s return to Atlanta; there just might not be enough minutes to go around to invest in Bembry. That said, Bembry should still receive worthwhile consideration for a second contract. While his offense still leaves much to be desired, there just aren’t a lot of wings who offer the defensive versatility of Bembry. Given more time to develop, it’s possible he could pursue a Sefolosha-esque trajectory and turn into a reliable glue guy. At the same point in his career, Sefolosha posted similar numbers. Looking down the line, in the playoffs, wings who can defend are especially important, and given the defensive questions in Atlanta’s current core, Bembry could play a role as a defensive specialist in a potential playoff rotation. I mentioned earlier how Pierce has subbed Bembry in for Young during key defensive possessions; it’s possible that will be a pattern throughout the point guard’s career, and Bembry could fill that role — albeit a small one in that sense — going forward. Since it’s likely that defensive impact in the backcourt will always be a desirable trait in a Young-led team, Atlanta should consider re-signing Bembry provided that his deal is reasonable. In general, teams should take advantage of the restricted status of their free agents and, in general, be wary of giving up on players too soon, especially at the more premium positions. In Atlanta, we’ve seen how late bloomers like Kent Bazemore and DeMarre Carroll became key pieces on good teams. While Bembry may not ultimately enjoy a similar outcome, few would have predicted that those two would turn into respectable NBA starters at similar points in their own careers. When building a team, it’s smart to make reasonable bets on wing talent, especially if they can defend. But what might a reasonable second contract for Bembry look like? According to BBall-Index’s PIPM Career Projection Tool, Bembry’s five year value in terms of wins added is estimated at $35.6 million, or $7.1 million annually. An annual amount in that range is a fairly reasonable discussion figure, though close to $7 million per season would be on the higher end value. Anything more than that, barring an unforeseen leap on offense, would certainly constitute a walk-away point. Furthermore, a figure approaching $7-8 million is unlikely on the market to begin with, even in a free agency period featuring diminished options. For example, Jabari Parker — a vastly superior offensive player — received only a two-year deal this past summer at $6.5 million per season with a player option on the second year. Parker is a different case, especially when accounting for pedigree and injury history, but Dorian Finney-Smith, who has some similarities with Bembry as a glue guy type, signed for three seasons at a total of $12 million. Finney-Smith’s contract, at least in the dollar figure per annum, is a good comparison deal for Bembry; something in the $4-6 million range over a similar number of years would be ideal if the Hawks plan to bring him back. While there will certainly be other defensive-minded wings on the market next summer, Bembry’s familiarity with the team, age, and defensive versatility would make him perhaps the best option realistically available in that price range. And at that range, if Bembry were to take another step forward in his development, he could provide surplus value on his next deal. That said, it would be perfectly fine if Schlenk chose to move on. Bembry’s improved offensive efficiency — if it lasts — gives him enough intrigue to consider him as an auxiliary piece in Atlanta’s plans. Every team needs role players, and the Hawks sorely need defensive impact. As such, he could be a useful piece for filling out a roster on a cost-controlled deal. You have your core players, and you have your secondary players. Bembry fits into the latter. If Bembry could develop into a sort of Sefolosha-type player, he would be easily worth an investment within the parameters discussed here. With that said, his development could go in different directions. It’s possible he’s plateauing, or his best years of production could be ahead. The personnel decisions that organizations make on the margins matter. In short, you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. Here’s hoping DeAndre’ Bembry keeps getting better. View the full article
  2. Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images Offense wasn’t the problem on Wednesday. The Atlanta Hawks were looking to build upon Monday’s win over the Golden State Warriors as they entered play against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday evening. It would make for an interesting match-up, as both teams have very similar offensive formulas. They both struggle to make perimeter shots — at least as currently constructed — but tend to dominate on the interior. Atlanta entered play fourth in the league in points in the paint (per game) with Brooklyn not far back, landing fifth in the category. Additionally, both teams rely on offensive rebounds and second chance points to generate some efficiency. However, the Hawks struggle mightily on the defensive glass (the Nets are simply below average, but not awful) and that would be the area of play that would sink their hopes of getting a victory in the eventual 130-118 loss. For Brooklyn, the game was essentially a demonstration of how to give up a million points at the rim and still get a win. Atlanta generated 70 points in the paint (nearly 17 above their per game average) converting a staggering 30 of 55 shots from short range. Obviously, that type of defensive performance is not going to be sustainable for the Nets, a team with real ambition for the 2019-2020 season. But while Brooklyn shot just above 50% from the same range (33 of 63), they tied a season high with 18 offensive rebounds to generate ten more field goal attempts than the Hawks. That led to a 28 to 20 advantage in second chance points that actually felt more stark than that. For the Hawks, the defensive issues were bigger than just the difficulty they had securing rebounds. They gave up 34 points or more in each of the final three quarters. That’s rarely going to be good enough for a win in the NBA. Brooklyn was able to generate enough stress at the point of attack against the Atlanta defense to lead to favorable shots on the weak side. Too often those looks were uncontested shots from the three point line. Despite entering the evening in the bottom third of the league in three-point percentage, the Nets were able to convert 14 of 31 attempts from long range (45.2%) in the game. That’s not a ridiculous volume for the Hawks to allow, but 19 of those attempts arrived from the three best perimeter shooters in the visiting team’s starting lineup. Taurean Prince (39% from three on the season) — in his first return to Atlanta since the off-season trade that landed him with Brooklyn — connected on 5 of 7 attempts from beyond the the arc en route to 23 points. Garrett Temple (34.5%) converted 6 of his 9 attempts on his way to a team-best 27 points. Joe Harris (44%) drew a lot of attention from the Hawks defense, understandably, and had just three attempts from distance, making only one of them. Spencer Dinwiddie has been powering the Brooklyn offense of late amid the absence of superstar point guard Kyrie Irving. It’s usually bad news when an opposing team holds Dinwiddie to six points on 2 of 10shooting from the field in the first half, yet still heads to the locker room down nine points, which the Hawks did. He would put up 18 points (on 14 shooting possessions) and four assists in the final two frames to put his team in position for the win. “It’s a tough team to defend,” Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce said after the game. “With Spencer Dinwiddie and the pick-and-rolls and his ability to get downhill, we had no answer for that.” “We have to be into the ball a little bit more with pressure. We have to pressure their passers,” Pierce further commented regarding the specifics of what needed to be better. “They came off and hit a bunch of threes after timeouts. And that’s on the ball — the defender guarding the basketball, just having pressure on the passer.” “The containment was an issue, but that’s everybody,” Pierce continued. “It’s whoever is on the court has to do a little bit better with regards to their responsibility.” Trae Young had another impressively efficient and productive night scoring the basketball in this game. He had 39 points and 10 assists shooting 13 of 23 from the field and five on nine from beyond the three point line. After struggling with his perimeter shot at times during the start of his rookie season, he is now north of 39% from distance on the 2019-2020 NBA season and shooting the ball with supreme confidence. “I hate it for him that we lost,” said Pierce commenting similarly as he has of recent regarding a good performance by his young point guard that still results in a team losses. “It was a great game, but it sucks that it had to come in a loss. Happy for him that he got into a rhythm. Good to see it.” In perhaps the best news from the defeat, Cam Reddish had a tremendous breakout performance. The 20-year-old rookie has been one of the least efficient offensive performers in the league thus far this season. Due to injury, he did not play in three of Atlanta’s final six road games that ended in Houston on Saturday evening. It would appear that he was able to put a bit of that downtime to use as to get the game to slow down for him. In this game, the No. 10 pick attacked the paint with dribble penetration in an under-control manner unlike anything he has demonstrated prior to this game. It is especially noteworthy that Reddish was effective when attacking to his left against the Nets. He’s had some previous success with his right hand but had mightily struggled with his non-dominant hand. He had a career-best 25 points, connecting on 10 of his 17 field goal attempts. He also confidently converted four of his seven attempts from beyond the three point line. He also had six rebounds and three steals. “That was the best part — that it was from start to finish,” noted Pierce about the play of Reddish. “It was really no drop off in terms of his aggression in his shot making.” “His points came in bunches and they came at different periods of the game, and for him to play consistently and score consistently all night was most impressive,” continued Pierce. “It’s just good to see.” “I was just in it tonight,” Reddish said of his performance. “I was feeling it from the jump when I hit my first two. I was just feeling confident throughout the entire game. My teammates were finding me for open shots and I was able to knock them down.” “I’m pretty much comfortable from anywhere, as long as I am in my rhythm and my flow,” he added. “I can get it from pretty much anywhere on the floor.” Related to the previously mentioned Nets’ difficulty defending the rim, Atlanta’s centers were collectively 17 of 21 on field goal attempts in the contest, all but two of those attempts coming from the paint. For visual evidence, here is a shot chart of the combined shot attempts for Alex Len and Damian Jones. Jones was a perfect eight for eight on his way to (another new) career-best 20 points. Len was nine of 13 from the field en route to 18 points. Apart from Len’s production, Atlanta struggled to generate offense on their second unit. They had just four points total among the other reserves in the game. Second-year guard Kevin Huerter saw his first action since leaving with an injury in Denver on November 12. He was scoreless in approximately 15 minutes of play — Huerter entered with a 15-minute limit, per Lloyd Pierce — but, if the goal for him in this game was to allow him to try to find some rhythm, his presence did not appear to hurt his team. He had a couple of nice assists in the half court offense but did look a bit hesitant to shoot the ball. In the end, like so many other games on the season for the Hawks, despite some impressive offensive performances, it came down to an inability to get defensive stops when they needed. They put up 73 points after the half but could not generate consecutive stops, for example, as get the contest down to a two or three possession game. Let’s take a look at some of the action. Young gets an easy runner early in the game. This possession offers a look at how much room Brooklyn was giving the Hawks’ point guard as he operated toward the paint in pick and roll action. The Nets struggled a bit to attack the Atlanta defense in the half court early in the contest. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson used designed plays after time outs (ATOs) to help his team generate the looks they wanted. This possession offers a look at how closely Jones was staying to Jarrett Allen in an attempt to keep him off of the boards. Dinwiddie takes advantage and gets to the rim for the uncontested lay-up. This play in the middle of the first quarter offers an example as to how and why the Hawks struggled to rebound the basketball on defense. Allen gets an easy put back as Jones completely loses track of him as Joe Harris attacks the rim but misses. This transition opportunity later in the first quarter is an example of how Atlanta’s second unit veterans can, at times, use experience and awareness to generate easy production. Here, Evan Turner and Len recognize that the Nets are not getting matched up effectively. DeAndre Jordan ends up matching up with Huerter, the Hawks’ player furthest from the paint. The result is an easy bucket. Young connects on another floater here in the second quarter. The Brooklyn defensive coverage is slightly adjusted. Jordan keeps his body in the path of Young as he penetrates the lane. But if an opposing big, as Jordan does on this play, is not even going to get his hands up, the Hawks’ point guard is going to be able to put up a comfortable shot. Turner can sometimes struggle to make an impact for this Atlanta team. he’s not a perfect fit on the roster, especially with the lack of shooting at the guard and forward positions. But, as can be seen again on this play, he is a smart, veteran player. This is an example of how Young’s teammates can help him, at times, even when he is carrying a lot of the workload. Turner pushes the ball in transition which allows Young to find a soft spot in the Brooklyn transition defense. He knocks down a comfortable catch and shoot three-point attempt. This possession is an example of a play relevant to Pierce’s remarks about how not strong enough defense at the point of attack can lead to an easy shot away from the initial action. Joe Harris is attacking in the pick and roll and is able to make a very comfortable pass to Temple on the weak side, who knocks down the perimeter shot. This play offers a look at how Young attacked in the pick and roll, increasingly, as a passer as the game progressed. Jordan is even more attentive, here, to his penetration which allows Len to slip behind the defense, as Pierce described. This is one of numerous encouraging plays from Reddish who gets the and one opportunity on the transition possession. Prior to this game, his attack was too often choppy in nature and his read predetermined. The simple fact that Reddish did not try to force a pass to Bembry here is reflective of progress. He slows himself down, measures the play confidently and finishes. This is another. It looks as if Reddish realizes, now, that when attacking in these situations, even at the NBA level, that he will almost always have the length advantage. To be honest, he did not flash much of this last season at Duke and, if he can repeat this type of play going forward, it could be an encouraging sign. Trailing late, the Hawks have to resort to trapping in an attempt to create turnovers. The Nets easily use ball movement to get Allen a shot at the rim with only Young there to provide any would be resistance. Fourth quarter stops continue to be too often elusive. Up Next The Hawks will head back out on the road after the brief home-stand. After three consecutive off days, Atlanta will resume their schedule with a game in Charlotte on Sunday against the Hornets before heading to Miami to take on the Heat on Tuesday. View the full article
  3. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images The winning streak didn’t materialize. The Atlanta Hawks hosted the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night, going for their first winning streak in quite some time after a win Monday against the Warriors that snapped a ten-game losing skid for the club. After suffering a dislocated finger in the win Monday, De’Andre Hunter joined the list of inactives for Atlanta, while Kevin Huerter made his return off the bench with a 15-minute restriction from head coach Lloyd Pierce. Chandler Parsons (flu) and Allen Crabbe (knee) were also unavailable for Atlanta. Kyrie Irving (shoulder) remained out for Brooklyn. Taurean Prince returned to Atlanta for the first time since being traded to Brooklyn for a package of draft picks this past Summer. The Hawks again however struggled to get stops and still trailed by fifteen inside the six-minute mark, and were unable to mount any run of substance from there, ultimately falling 130-116. Young finished with 39 points and ten assists, leading the way for Atlanta in both categories. For the second time in as many games, Jones set a career-mark for points, scoring 20 tonight after posting 16 on Monday. Reddish also set his career/season high for points with 25, going for 4-for-7 from three-point-range and 10-for-17 from the floor overall. Garrett Temple led the way for Brooklyn with 27 points, while Allen finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, helping control the glass for the Nets (Brooklyn out-rebounded the Hawks 53-35 in the contest). Prince finished with 23 points in his return to Atlanta. View the full article
  4. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images The Atlanta Hawks took care of business on Monday evening, outplaying the Golden State Warriors to snap an extended losing streak. Less than 48 hours later, Lloyd Pierce’s team will be back on the floor at State Farm Arena but, this time around, the task is a bit more difficult against the Brooklyn Nets. It is worth noting that the visitors will be without both Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert for injury reasons, giving the Hawks a clearer path to potential victory. On Atlanta’s side, there is also plenty of intrigue with the injury report. Kevin Huerter (left rotator cuff strain) was upgraded to questionable after missing 11 straight games, and that is an unquestioned boost for the Hawks. It is certainly possible that the Hawks could hold Huerter out for another game (particularly with three days off before their next tilt), but he seems to be progressing nicely. Elsewhere, De’Andre Hunter (dislocated right index finger) is listed as doubtful after suffering the injury in the fourth quarter on Monday. Allen Crabbe (right knee soreness) will miss Wednesday’s game, with Chandler Parsons (flu-like symptoms) questionable to play. Presumably because of the injury-related uncertainty, the point spread for Wednesday’s game is not widely available. The small handful of outlets that listed a point spread (as of Wednesday morning) install the Nets as a small favorite on the road but, depending on whether Huerter (or even Hunter) plays, that could swing. Regardless, the Hawks have a chance to pick up a second straight victory and, while the Nets are certainly formidable than the short-handed Warriors proved to be on Monday, this is a winnable spot for Atlanta. Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action. Game Info Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7:30 pm ET Location: State Farm Arena TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass View the full article
  5. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images Catching up with the team’s starting center. In 2018, Damian Jones started at center for the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. The 24-year-old’s future in Golden State appeared promising at that point, even after he missed most of the regular season with a torn pectoral and had struggled with injuries and competition level in his first two years in the NBA. Since appearing against Portland that night — which resulted in his being benched by coach Steve Kerr less than three minutes into the game with three fouls — Jones has undergone a career upheaval similar to what many young athletes on the edge of major league relevance experience. In July, Jones – the No. 30 overall selection of the 2016 NBA draft out of Vanderbilt – was traded along with a 2026 second-round pick to the Hawks for fellow No. 30 pick Omari Spellman, who has rebuilt his image in his first year with the Warriors, averaging eight points and six rebounds on 42 percent shooting. Since returning to the Southeast, the former Commodore has continued to flash potential, but questions remain surrounding his ability to translate raw athleticism into consistent on-court production. Monday night’s 104-79 blowout victory against the Warriors — a game which saw Jones score a career-high 16 points punctuated by three thunderous fourth-quarter dunks — provided fans in Atlanta with an encouraging glimpse of the 6-foot-11 big man’s tantalizing skill set and ability to fill a much-needed rim-protecting role in Atlanta. After the game, Peachtree Hoops caught up with Jones, who reflected on his past year, detailing the moment he learned he was traded to his arrival and growth with the Hawks. Note: This transcript has been loosely edited for clarity What was your initial reaction when you learned you were traded to the Hawks? It was different. I was in Nashville at the time, and when I heard the news I was like ‘Dang, a new transition’s about to happen.’ I was just preparing my mind to go into a new city, different conference, meeting a different team. I imagine it’s difficult to be traded by the team that drafted you. How did you reconcile one team’s willingness to let you go with another team’s excitement to bring you on board? At the end of the day, it’s a business. Things happen. A lot of the guys from the team have been moved around. It’s just a part of it. I’m embracing my new team and just trying to come in, work hard and do things I need to do. What was the first “Atlanta” thing you did when you moved to the city? I didn’t really do much to be honest. I went to Lenox, I guess that’s the thing to do. …I had to get my laptop fixed at the Apple Store. It needed a new battery. What has your comfort level been in your short time playing with the Hawks this season? It’s been an adjustment. Different terminology, different play styles. Just trying to get used to the team. It’s been good getting more reps in, trying to gain more chemistry with my teammates. How have you handled the extra workload you’ve experienced this season compared to past seasons with the Warriors? I think it was like 20 games in at Golden State I got hurt, so yeah, it’s been some more minutes here. It’s been good. Keeping my conditioning up, everything’s been pretty solid. What specifically has the Hawks’ coaching staff tried to instill in you this season? What areas of your game are you working on most to improve? Shooting is [a] thing I continue to work on. You’ve seen guys like Dewayne Dedmon. …Alex Len continuing to improve his shot coming here. I’ve just been doing those things and also focusing on rolling hard and getting behind the defense. The Hawks aren’t exactly title contenders at the moment, meaning you can grow alongside other young players without the pressure of anchoring a championship defense. How helpful is it to be in a place where the expectations aren’t as lofty as they were in Golden State? At the end of the day, you still want to get better regardless of where you’re at. Yeah, the spotlight isn’t on you as much, but you still want to go out there and perform to the best of your ability. What’s it like to go from being in a more experienced locker room in Golden State to playing with a younger group in Atlanta? It’s crazy, you know I played against John in college but being around guys close to my age is like being back in college. I gained a lot of knowledge playing over at Golden State and at the time being it was good. What are your personal goals for the rest of the 2019 season? Just to continue improving. My past three years it’s been up and down dealing with injuries and things like that but I feel like it’s been going steady so far. God willing, just continue improving this year. View the full article
  6. Photo by Jasear Thompson/NBAE via Getty Images Almost one-quarter of the season is in the books. Let’s re-examine. While the (vast) majority of the attention paid in this space is assigned to the Atlanta Hawks, there is real incentive for Tony Ressler’s organization to pay close attention to the Brooklyn Nets this season. As discussed prior to the 2019-20 campaign, the Hawks will be closely monitoring Brooklyn for draft purposes and, with 20 games in the books for the Nets (before they arrive in Atlanta on Wednesday), there is more information to use when projecting to the future. As a refresher, the Hawks will acquire Brooklyn’s 2020 first round selection if the Nets make the playoffs this season. If Brooklyn falls short of the postseason, that pick will defer to 2021, where the same parameters of lottery protection will apply, and the same setup would then come into play for 2022 if the pick has not yet conveyed. From there, the pick in question would become a pair of second-round picks if Brooklyn was to (somehow) miss the playoffs for three straight seasons. Because of the looming reality that Kevin Durant will return for the Nets in 2020-21, it is a common assumption that the 2020 NBA Draft is the best place for Atlanta to take advantage of this draft obligation. As such, the Hawks are rooting hard for the Nets to land in the playoffs but, at the same time, Brooklyn can’t be too good or the pick loses value in a hurry. With that in mind, here are some updated projections for the Nets, both from the standpoint of statistical models and human evaluation. ESPN Power Rankings (from 12/2) — 14th overall, 7th in East The Athletic Power Rankings (from 12/2) — 13th overall, 7th in East NBA.com Power Rankings (from 12/2) — 14th overall, 7th in East FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR projection — 41 projected wins, 7th in East FiveThirtyEight’s ELO forecast — 38 projected wins, 8th in East TeamRankings projection — 38 projected wins, 7th in East NumberFire projection — 41 projected wins, 7th in East ESPN’s Basketball Power Index — 39 projected wins, 7th in East As you can see, the consensus projection places Brooklyn in the playoffs and, given their 10-10 record (and the reality of the East), that makes sense. The Nets haven’t been at full strength for much of the season, with Kyrie Irving playing only 11 games to this point and Caris LeVert appearing only nine times, but Brooklyn has been strangely effective when they are short-handed. The Nets are actually 4-7 with Irving and 6-3 without him this season, though it has to be noted that Brooklyn has faced one of the 10 easiest schedules in the NBA. If the Nets can simply hold serve at approximately the same level they’ve established through one-quarter of the campaign, an ideal scenario will emerge for the Hawks. It is certainly possible that a team like Orlando could overtake Brooklyn for the No. 7 spot or a team like Indiana could backslide a bit when their own schedule becomes more difficult. Still, the best-case for Atlanta is Brooklyn landing in the No. 6 through No. 8 segment of the Eastern Conference Playoffs and, through approximately 20 games for most teams, it could be argued that the Nets are in a “tier” with the Magic and Pacers that would place them right there. If that happens, the Hawks would claim a pick in the mid-teens (No. 15 through No. 17, depending on the particular landing spot) and that would represent an optimal outcome from the trade involving Taurean Prince and Allen Crabbe. There are reasonable opinions on all sides when it comes to what Atlanta might look to do with that selection but, from a value standpoint, the lottery protection on the pick dictates that the Hawks simply want the Nets to sneak into the playoffs in one of the next three seasons. The stars could be aligning for that exact circumstance and, even if Irving misses a bit more time, the Nets are on the trajectory that the Hawks should prefer. In April, there will be a lot of attention paid to the exact positioning but, in the meantime, observers in Atlanta should be rooting for the Nets to hover around the .500 mark. View the full article
  7. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images The streak is over, the Hawks have won a basketball game again. After a three-game road-trip — and an awful weekend in Indiana and Houston — the Atlanta Hawks entered State Farm Arena on Monday night knowing that the opportunity to end their 10-game losing streak was a strong possibility as they squared off against the Golden State Warriors. Though the Hawks trailed early, they eventually eased to a 104-79 victory behind strong second and third quarters where they outscored the Warriors 29-17 and 27-13 respectively. If you missed the game and want to see how it unfolded, again, I recommend you do so right here... It says something about the opponent when the Hawks — who were on a 10-game losing streak — were favored by 6.5 points heading into the game, that doesn’t happen often but such was the story last night. We know the Hawks are short-handed — no John Collins, no Kevin Huerter, no Allen Crabbe last night (out with the flu) and while Cam Reddish did return, DeAndre’ Bembry started the game. However, the Warriors are even more short-handed — no Stephen Curry, no Klay Thompson, no Draymond Green, no D’Angelo Russell, no Damion Lee, no Jacob Evans. The Warriors started with Alec Burks at point guard, essentially, and Kevon Looney made his long-awaited return to action in Atlanta last night and would’ve obviously played with a little rust (especially Cauley-Stein, who was in foul trouble all night long). Oh yes, and the Warriors were coming off of a game the previous night in Orlando. It was a game where, if the Hawks didn’t win this one, when exactly would they win again? I don’t want to take away from the Hawks, who played hard last night and played much better than they did in Houston (they weren’t amazing in this game, not exactly hard to beat the Houston game) but, at least in some ways, the 25-point margin was more about the Warriors than it was the Hawks. It’s about the Warriors’ short-handedness, it’s about their inability to score, it’s about their inability to take care of the ball. That isn’t to say there weren’t things the Hawks didn’t do well, it’s just that the blowout nature was more about what Golden State couldn’t do and the Hawks benefiting from that by taking advantage. In the past, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce has talked about ‘separation’ — whether it’s about gaining separation (not a lot of that recently) or the opposition establishing separation. There were two periods of this game where the Hawks established their separation and it came, as you would imagine, in those second and third quarters. Starting in the second quarter, the Hawks hadn’t made a three-pointer while the Warriors had made two and it was one of the reasons the Warriors were ahead in the early going as Atlanta missed its first seven three-point attempts. Trae Young put that to an end in some style with a deep three, one that State Farm Arena has become accustomed to: While this three didn’t get the Hawks the separation (Golden State recovered from this), it was a flurry of threes to end the second quarter where the Hawks began to stretch away. It started with Vince Carter, who is found by Evan Turner as the Hawks move the ball around: After some missed shots by Golden State and a split pair of free throws from the returning Reddish, Damian Jones grabs the offensive rebound off of Reddish’s miss and finds Young who hits his second three of the quarter: After a battle on the other end that resulted in former Hawk Omari Spellman drawing and making two free throws, the Hawks — leading by six points — come the other way and they hit another three, this time courtesy of De’Andre Hunter as Young drives inside, finds Turner near the rim and Turner spots the open Hunter: Three of Hunter’s 13 points in the first half as the rookie wing enjoyed a bounce-back after a tough outing in Houston. A pair of free throws from Young put the Hawks up by 11 before Eric Paschall cut the lead to nine points heading into the break — which is just enough to the point where a Hawks run to begin the third begins to tip this one in the Hawks’ favor. And sure enough... The Hawks began the third quarter with a 12-4 run but the main story of the third quarter was the Warriors’ turnovers — 10 of them coming in the third quarter and the Hawks scored 13 points off of those turnovers in the third quarter alone and 25 on the game as the Warriors totaled 25 turnovers. Here, Hunter is credited for the steal and streaks in the other direction, finishing with the dunk: Off of a miss, the Warriors initially grab the rebound but Bembry knocks it away and the Hawks go down the other end and Young drives inside and hits the floater in the lane: In transition, the Warriors turn the ball over in the corner — Reddish does well to get a hand in to disrupt this play — and the Hawks come the other way with Evan Turner, who goes solo and hits the shot over Spellman: To cap it all off, the Hawks come again off of a turnover as Marquese Chriss’ pass falling out of bounds is picked off and Tyrone Wallace looks as though he’s taking it to the rim but passes to Reddish, who does well to spot the open finds Carter for the dagger to put the Hawks up by 23 points: With the Warriors coughing it up so often in the third quarter, as well as their offense just struggling, they failed to score in the last 4:21 of the third quarter as the Hawks ran away in the third quarter. From there, the fourth quarter was a formality as the Hawks finally got on the right side of a win, conceding exactly half the amount of points the Rockets had scored on Saturday night. 79 points conceded on the game was also less than the Rockets scored on the Hawks in the first half... It not only broke the Hawks’ 10-game losing streak but it also marked the Hawks’ first victory against the Warriors in nine attempts and a four-game losing streak in Atlanta against the Warriors. The last Hawks victory against the Warriors? Yep, you guessed it: February 6th 2015, the classic matchup between the league’s best two regular season teams — that was the last time the Hawks beat the Warriors. A very different story now obviously but a means to an end as the Hawks broke their streak, and with it a weight has been lifted. “It wasn’t pretty but we’ll take it,” opened Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce postgame. “It feels better coming in here than the last 10 games.” Especially after that Carter three to put the Hawks up by 23 in the third quarter, the bench was up and everyone was smiling, knowing a win was surely incoming. “Just, you know, fun,” said Pierce as to the mood in the locker-room postgame. “The guys are in there. They’re fun, they’re excited, they’re happy. It’s a different spirit, you know. Our last time out in Houston wasn’t a whole lot of fun. It was good - the guys are in there cracking jokes on Cam (Reddish) for missing the dunk, laughing at De’Andre (Hunter) because he was in pain when he jammed his fingers, just stuff like that. Normal stuff, and it’s good to see our guys feel and act normal after a game.” The victory marks the Hawks’ first since November 12th when they stole a game in Denver — it’s been a long time coming but still sitting at 5-16, it’s not where the Hawks want to be. “It feels good, obviously,” said Young postgame on the victory. “We haven’t won in a long time, which isn’t a good feeling. Anytime you can get a win, it feels good. We’re all happy, but we have a long way to go. We’re not satisfied. We have to continue to get better.” There were a few instances during that streak where the Hawks had been knocking on the door but to get on the other side brought joy. “It’s a great feeling, obviously, to be in the win column, to share the ball, to play well, to taste victory for a change,” said Carter postgame. “We had been so close. Regardless of the team we were playing, it didn’t matter. We had some games where gave ourselves an opportunity, and some games where we didn’t. To be able to put together four quarters is a great feeling and a great building block. We still have some things that we didn’t do well. We were able to look past it and continue to play, and that’s probably the most important thing right now.” It also marked a day where Hunter turned 22 years old and a win was the birthday present he wanted. “It feels great. It’s my birthday, and that just makes it a little bit better,” said Hunter postgame on the victory. However, what Hunter wouldn’t have wanted for his birthday was what he received in the fourth quarter, which was a dislocated right index finger. However, the good news is that X-Rays were negative and Pierce believes it’s not anything to be majorly worried about. “Right now it just sounds like it’s a sprain, like he just jammed his finger,” said Pierce of the injury. “I don’t think there’s anything serious. I hope not, but you know they were asking him if he still had to lift after the game, so it didn’t sound like there was anything serious to his hand...” The Hawks have a game again on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, and while Hunter wasn’t sure postgame if he would be able to play on Wednesday saying that while the finger didn’t really hurt postgame, he would know more tomorrow. “I don’t know as of right now,” said Hunter on if he’ll play on Wednesday. “I have a lot of adrenaline and it doesn’t really hurt me right now, but I’ll definitely know by tomorrow.” Even if Hunter didn’t play on Wednesday, I don’t think this is anything to worry about long-term though it would be unfortunate if Hunter missed out as he has been one of the more consistent performers for the Hawks this season, pouring in 18 points last night. There were good games to be had from Young — who scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field — Reddish impressed defensively (+14 on the game despite shooting 3-of-10 but posted a defensive rating 65.4 in 23 minutes) and Damian Jones, who enjoyed a career-night against his former team. Jones scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed a tied career-high of eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Not a ton else to say about this game: the Hawks did what they had to do and now that the streak is over, they can try carry some momentum heading forward. The Hawks (5-16) are back in action on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena where they’ll take on the Brooklyn Nets as they chase a second consecutive victory. Should be fun, until next time... View the full article
  8. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports Let’s take a look at where the Hawks rank in this week’s power ranking roundup. It’s been tough for the Atlanta Hawks in recent days. No scratch that, it has basically rock bottom for the Hawks — at least prior to Monday’s win — and painful to watch some of these games. We’ve seen a variety of losses in the recent past, varying from losing down the stretch in overtime all the way to record setting blowout losses. The good news is that that the Hawks can only go up from here. With that all said, the Hawks are officially at the bottom of the power rankings for John Schuhmann of NBA.com at No. 30 overall. The Hawks have the league’s first double-digit losing streak of the season. Over the last two weeks, they’ve held second-half leads over the Bucks (twice), Raptors, Wolves and Pacers, but the streak also includes two of the three worst margins of defeat this season (49 and 47 points). They’re in the bottom five in three of the four factors on defense, dead last in defensive rebounding percentage, having allowed at least 10 offensive rebounds in 10 of their last 12 games and grabbed 69.6% of available defensive boards. That latter number has been just 64.1% in 228 total minutes with their current starting frontline - Jabari Parker and Damian Jones - on the floor. The Hawks’ December schedule includes only two games against teams that currently rank in the top 10 offensively and they’ll face two bottom-10 offenses this week. The Hawks also fall to No. 30 in the latest ranking at CBS Sports. Who would have thought that after starting the season 2-0, the Hawks would only get two more wins in their next 18 games? The losing streak is now up to 10, with the most recent being a 47-point loss in which James Harden dropped 60 points in three quarters. Atlanta is eagerly awaiting the end of John Collins’ suspension, which will come in late December, and could use a healthy Kevin Huerter to help space the floor and give Trae Young more room to operate.-- The good folks at ESPN break the trend and put Atlanta at No. 28 this week. It has to be hard for Trae Young to enjoy his success in November with the Hawks mired in a 10-game losing streak. Young averaged 28.9 points, 8.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 3-pointers made per game in November. Meanwhile, Atlanta has not won a game since Nov. 12. -- Spears Sports Illustrated also puts Atlanta at No. 28, even though they do bring up some thoughts on the recent defensive issues. Atlanta is a mess defensively by nearly any metric. The Hawks allow the third-most threes and the fifth-most offensive rebounds, leading to the league’s No. 29 defensive rating. This is to be expected when Trae Young and Jabari Parker share the floor, and such units are the ones that allow 60 points on 24 shots. James Harden absolutely shredded Atlanta on Saturday night. Finally, Yahoo puts Atlanta at No. 28 while pointing out the absurd offensive stats from Trae Young recently. Over the Hawks last five games, Trae Young is averaging 36.4 points (in 36.9 minutes) to go along with 4.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 5.0 made 3PT’s, while shooting 50.4% from the floor, 47.2% from downtown and 94.9% from the free-throw stripe. Well there you have it, this week’s ranking in the books. Just by the look of it, Atlanta could do worse by finishing No. 30 across the board. However, they averaged out at about No. 29 this week. Hopefully, with some of the upcoming opponents, the Hawks can find an uptick and build off the momentum generated on Monday. As always, leave your thoughts below. View the full article
  9. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images The bleeding has stopped. UPDATE: The Hawks announced after the game that De’Andre Hunter suffered a dislocated right index finger. After suffering a tenth consecutive loss on Saturday night in Houston, the Atlanta Hawks entered Monday night’s game in an odd place, operating as the betting favorite for the first time in 2019-20. Though the opening minutes were a little bit dicey, Lloyd Pierce’s team took care of business — with some help from the visiting Golden State Warriors — on the way to a 104-79 victory to stop the bleeding. The early going was a bit sloppy on both ends, but Atlanta’s first bucket came from a former member of the Warriors in Damian Jones. Ultimately, the Hawks emerged with a 25-point win and it was a family affair in terms of positive contributions. Young (24 points, seven assists) and Hunter (18 points) led the way for Atlanta, with Jones (career-high 16 points and eight rebounds) providing an offensive punch and strong defensive/all-court showings from players like Reddish and Evan Turner. The Hawks will return to the floor on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets at State Farm Arena, and they will be looking to turn one victory into a winning streak. Stay tuned. View the full article
  10. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images For the first time this season, the Hawks are projected to win. The Atlanta Hawks have lost ten games in a row and, since Kevin Huerter and John Collins exited the lineup, the team’s statistical profile is the worst in the NBA. In an ironic twist, Atlanta returns home on Monday in a new role, though, as the Hawks are favored to win a game for the first time during the 2019-20 season. The good people in Las Vegas install the Hawks as 6.5-point (!) favorites over the Golden State Warriors and, even if that might seem odd with how Atlanta is playing, there is a method to the madness. The Warriors have been the second-worst team in the NBA over the last few weeks (and, really, for most of the season) and the visitors arrive in Atlanta on the second night of a road back-to-back. Given that the Hawks were off on Sunday, that is a clear edge for Atlanta and, in addition, Draymond Green (rest) will miss this game for the Warriors, joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and D’Angelo Russell (among others) on the shelf. It has to be noted that the Hawks have a few injury concerns of their own, with Huerter (shoulder) not ready to return and Cam Reddish (wrist) listed as questionable. Still, it is clear that the expectation in this spot is a win for Atlanta, which is new territory for a team that is flailing a bit at the moment. Still, the Warriors are a bottom-five defensive team in the NBA and, without Green, they might be the worst squad in the league at preventing their opponents from scoring. That, combined with the presence of Trae Young, should bring optimism when it comes to Atlanta putting the ball in the basketball. Lastly, the Warriors are also a bottom-five offensive team right now and, though the Hawks are struggling mightily on defense, it is conceivable that the home team could generate more stops than usual in this spot. Monday’s contest is a far cry from the much-ballyhooed regular season clash between these two teams in 2015, as that game matched the NBA’s two best teams in the moment. This time around, it wouldn’t be tough to argue that the Hawks and Warriors, as presently constructed, are the two worst teams in the league but, simply put, Golden State’s arrival couldn’t come at a better time for an Atlanta team that desperately needs a win. Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action. Game Info Game Date/Time: Monday, Dec. 2, 7:30 pm ET Location: State Farm Arena TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass View the full article
  11. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports The Atlanta Hawks were nearing the quarter mark of the 2019-20 season heading into their match-up with the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. They carried a nine-game losing streak into the contest with the Rockets, and at no time threatened to put an end to the skid. They left with a 10th consecutive loss after giving up a franchise record in points allowed to an opponent (in a game that ended in regulation) by way of a 158-111 loss. If there has been a single game on the Atlanta’s schedule thus far that most qualified as a “schedule loss,” it was this game. It was the team’s third road game in four nights during which their only break came on Thanksgiving Day. Beyond that, they were tasked with matching up with the league’s most prolific scorer in James Harden, and it’s not as if Houston is simply a one man show. While Harden is the focal point of nearly everything they do on offense, he is surrounded by players that know and understand their respective roles and execute with a supreme amount of success. Houston entered the evening with a top-five offense, while the Hawks entered as a bottom-five defense. It wasn’t a great match up for the visitors. While the game would go the way that it seemed, on paper, that it would most likely go, a schedule loss or a highly unfavorable match up doesn’t describe the extent of the trouble the young Atlanta team was unable to overcome in the lopsided defeat. The Hawks lost contact with Houston early in the game and, from that point on, the home team played with confidence and comfort the rest of the way. They would put up 100 points before the mid-point of the third quarter. They amassed 38 points or more in each of the first three periods (before a full fourth quarter of garbage time). En route, the Rockets produced a shot chart that reflects the philosophy of their head coach, Mike D’Antoni. They were 20 of 25 on shot attempts inside of the restricted area, they generated 51 attempts from the three point line (connecting on 25) and converted 29 of their 34 free throw attempts. The result is, unofficially, 144 of their 158 points from those desired locations of offensive production. Harden put up 60 points and played none of the final quarter. He also had eight assists. Russell Westbrook added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in just 26 minutes of action. Ben McLemore made the most of the defensive attention being allocated to Harden and produced 26 points and 13 rebounds. “You come in and you play a guy and a team in James (Harden) and the night he has and the confidence their entire roster has… I think they had 25 threes,” Hawks’ head coach Lloyd Pierce said after the game. “We try to do what you have to do against James which is throw a lot of bodies at him, try and put him under duress.” “He just didn’t feel us,” Pierce continued. “He didn’t feel us with the doubles. He didn’t feel us with the blitz. He didn’t feel us with the extra defender running out at him. A lot of their guys have confidence. Obviously, he made a ton of shots, he got to the foul line. It’s kind of who James is. It was amplified tonight.” As demonstrated on this possession, Atlanta was perhaps overplaying the three-point line defensively. It is where Harden certainly most wants to operate, but the best offensive teams know how to punish a defensive team allocating too much of their effort to one are of production. Harden is not known as a guy who generates a lot of points moving without the ball but, as is the case here, Harden usually makes the right play. And even though Tyson Chandler is not a perimeter threat, the Rockets run sets that are intended to lure the opposing teams’ big man away from the paint. He’s part of simple dribble hand-off action with Westbrook here, but the result is an uncontested shot at the rim for Harden. Defensively, Atlanta often struggles most when they are not able to get organized in their transition defense. Such is the case on this possession. They never stop the basketball from advancing up court, even by way of a dribble, and never get in position to deter an attempt at the rim. Frankly, as the score would attest, the defensive play was troublesome for the entirety of the game. The Hawks could not find a way to get better organized, to get better connected as a defensive unit nor to be competitive for any stretch on that end of the court. Lessons to be learned If there is a lesson to be learned for the young Hawks team in this contest, it might be that when close games slip from your grasp, you may never know when the next opportunity to secure a win in a close game might be possible. This game was, truly, never in question, but the Hawks lost in overtime on Friday night to the Pacers in Indiana. Before that, they lost to the Bucks in Milwaukee on Wednesday evening in a game in which they trailed by just five points with three minutes remaining. “I feel bad for our guys because I thought because I thought we had been playing really good basketball,” said Pierce after Saturday’s game. “You miss out on an opportunity last night. You miss out on an opportunity against Milwaukee the game before. You come here and you run into a tough situation.” “We played extremely well last night, we take Indiana to overtime. We played extremely well against Milwaukee,” Pierce continued. “We have to find a way to continue to focus on what we did in those games and the effort we put forth in those games… try to push this one aside and hopefully it’s one of those unique deals. But I thought our guys had been playing pretty good basketball. This one just wasn’t our night.” A positive Trae Young continued his impressive play on the offensive end of the court. He had 37 points (and seven assists) in an incredibly efficient shooting performance. He was 10 of 16 from the field while converting five of his nine three point attempts. He was 12 of 13 from the free throw line. “He’s playing great basketball. He’s playing efficient basketball in terms of his shooting which was obviously a big issue for us last year,” Pierce said regarding the play of his second-year point guard. “To see him start the season shooting efficiently, shooting effectively, play making effectively is important for us to continue and try to find ways to get better is important as well,” added Pierce. “We are not going to take away from what he’s doing on the basketball court. He’s having a heck of a year. He’s shooting the ball with confidence. And he’s hard to guard. There’s some growth you are seeing on a nightly basis.” As some teams do, the Hawks made an effort to make Harden the weak side defender in action they were using in the half court. On this possession, Jabari Parker is able to sneak to the front of the rim after Harden helps on Damian Jones. It must be noted, however, that Houston was playing without perhaps their most important defender, center Clint Capela. Young received very little help in this game. Rookie De’Andre Hunter had 14 points but nearly all of that came in the fourth quarter long after the game had been decided. He struggled mightily in the first three periods. Having been leaned on for offensive contributions since the suspension of John Collins, Jabari Parker had limited opportunities in this game. He had 11 points on just eight field goal attempts. Alex Len has 12 points shooting six of seven from the floor off of the bench. The second unit, apart from Len, went just eight of 35 on field goal attempts. Allen Crabbe, in the absence of injured rookie Cam Reddish, started his first game of the season but was able to produce just six points. All in all, it was an ugly performance from a young team that appeared to be fatigued, but a better performance than this one would be expected of any NBA team in almost any situation. The 4-16 Hawks will now return home to face the Golden State Warriors at State Farm Arena on Monday evening. The Warriors will face the Magic in Orlando on Sunday evening and will be on a road back-to-back of their own entering play on Monday. View the full article
  12. Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images The Atlanta Hawks made their way to Houston for the second half of a back to back with the Rockets. Cam Reddish joined John Collins and Kevin Huerter on the list inactives for Atlanta, as Allen Crabbe drew the start in Reddish’s absence. The first quarter got off to a nice start as Crabbe hit a three pointer on the Hawks’ opening possession, but things quickly went downhill from there. The Hawks were within four with seven minutes to go before Houston rattled off a 19-7 run over the next six minutes. Then, Russell Westbrook capped off the rough quarter with a three pointer just before the first quarter ended to put the Rockets up 38-21. Jabari Parker had a couple nice stretches in the first, but overall, the Hawks just seemed clearly outmatched. When all was said and done, the Hawks found themselves on the way to a record night in all the wrong ways at halftime, as they were down 83-52 going into the break. The third quarter was when it all really went full apocalypse mode as the Rockets just completely detonated the Hawks. This attack was led by James Harden, who had a phenomenal night that ended after the third period. At that point, Harden had scored 60 points on just 24 shot and that speaks for itself. The Hawks mustered just 21 points in the third quarter, while the Rockets piled up 46 to stretch their lead to nearly 60 points at one time. It really was a night to forget for Atlanta as once again the only player to really do anything offensively was Trae Young who piled up 25 points headed into the fourth. At the end of three, with Harden still inexplicably on the floor, Atlanta was down 127-73 (not a misprint). Young remained in the game for the beginning of the fourth quarter — presumably in an attempt to make the game at least somewhat respectable — and he obliged by scoring eight quick points in the opening four minutes. As the game wound down, Young came out of the game after amassing 37 points and seven assists. The Rockets passed the 150-point mark late in the fourth to secure the second-highest point total allowed in a regulation game in franchise history. Houston eventually went on to set the record by scoring their 158th point, which surpassed a game in 1969 where the Hawks allowed 156 to the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). Tonight was the definition of a game the Hawks will soon want to forget. Atlanta will be back at it on Monday night against the Golden State Warriors at home. Stay tuned. View the full article
  13. Photo by Jasear Thompson/NBAE via Getty Images Trae Young was phenomenal on Friday evening, but the Atlanta Hawks eventually succumbed to the Indiana Pacers by a one-point margin. Much was made of the struggles aside from Young but, for Lloyd Pierce’s team, there is no rest for the weary with a Saturday night match-up against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Atlanta’s three-game road trip comes to an end with this face-off but, with the Rockets resting on Friday and the Hawks playing an overtime game (followed by travel), outside expectations are low in this spot. The good folks in Las Vegas install the Hawks as 13.5-point underdogs in this game, and that represents one of the larger spreads of the young season. The most difficult task when dealing with the Rockets is defending Harden, with a number of Hawks scheduled to take turns against him. DeAndre’ Bembry, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish would be logical options against Harden but, in the end, keeping his supporting cast in check could be the clearest path for Atlanta. On the injury front, the Hawks aren’t required to submit an official report until Saturday afternoon, though it is worth noting that John Collins (suspension) and Kevin Huerter (shoulder) remain sidelined. Atlanta’s injury list was clean aside from Cam Reddish (left wrist) on Friday, though the rookie was upgraded to probable before suiting up against the Pacers. Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action. Game Info Game Date/Time: Saturday, Nov. 30, 8:00 pm ET Location: Toyota Center TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass View the full article
  14. Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images Ninth consecutive loss keeps Hawks at bottom of the East Sometimes, the saying is figurative, but this time it is perhaps more literal than ever. Trae Young tried to single-handedly carry the Atlanta Hawks to a win on Friday evening. On a night when the Indiana Pacers seemed to be doing all they could to keep keep the Hawks level with them, Indiana prevailed with a 105-104 win in overtime. Young matched a career high with 49 points. He shot 16 of 28 from the field and 8 of 15 from the three point line. In contrast, his teammates made 23 of 63 from the field and just 1 of 17 from behind the arc. Despite matching a career high, Young would have traded the individual highlights for a win. “I guess it was good individually, but people who know me know I don’t care at all,” Young said postgame, via Fox Sports Southeast. “if we don’t win, none of that matters... I didn’t do enough and that’s they way I look at it.” References to holiday food hangovers and tryptophan are too easy to apply to the efforts from both teams in the game. Even Pacers’ coach Nate McMillan made the allusion to the holiday when discussing his team’s effort. Aside from Young, the effort on both sides was marked by sloppy play and questionable shot selection. The two teams combined for 40 turnovers and, aside from Young, shot a collective 7/43 on three point attempts. The overtime period opened with a five quick points from the Pacers. Atlanta responded with a three from Young and a two from Len to tie the game at 99-99. A corner three from T.J. Warren with 1:13 remaining broke the tie and cracked the door for the Pacers who then used defensive stops and free throws to ice the game. A last second three from Young closed the gap from four points to one as time expired. In the overtime period, the Pacers double-teamed and trapped Young insisting that some other Hawk be forced to take shots. Ultimately, the second year point guard scored eight of the Hawks’ ten overtime points. Despite respectable efforts from Len and Bembry, who each scored 15 points, the contributions from Young’s supporting cast was again not enough. During the absences of John Collins (suspension) and Kevin Huerter (injury), the Hawks have limited options. While Jabari Parker has been a solid sidekick, he was all but invisible in this game finishing with four points on 1/8 shooting. The Pacers received balanced scoring from their starters. Lamb led the way with 20 but each Indiana starter scored at least 16. The Indiana bench was abysmal aside from the two quick threes from McDermott early in the fourth quarter. A grueling week continues for the Hawks as they head to Houston for a Saturday night tilt with the Rockets. The match-up will be a very tough task with the Hawks coming off an overtime loss on the road while the Rockets have been at home all week and are coming off a win over Miami on Wednesday. Young played an extended 42+ minutes versus the Pacers including playing the entirety of the second quarter. While he clearly didn’t hit a wall in Indiana, it will be interesting to see how much he has in the tank versus the Rockets. If his supporting cast can’t manage a better effort than they mustered in Indiana, Saturday night might be a long one for the Hawks. View the full article
  15. Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports The Atlanta Hawks made their way to Indianapolis on Friday night for a matchup with the Pacers, currently sitting in sixth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The Hawks continue to be without John Collins (suspension), as well as Kevin Huerter with a shoulder injury. During the broadcast, Huerter hinted at a return as early as next week, though time will tell on the next time he will see the court. The opening minutes started out well for both teams as the game went back and forth in the first period. Neither team really had any notable runs, and the action was moving at a fast tempo. The Pacers had some really good looks at the basket, but they simply couldn’t get much to go down. Malcolm Brogdon was their main catalyst in the early going, but after he exited, the offense pretty much died for Indiana. Fortunately for the home team, the same was true when Trae Young left the game for his first quarter break. Young was getting whatever he wanted against the Pacers’ defense and whenever he was on the bench it was pretty much a win for them. With the game knotted at 94-94, the Pacers turned to Malcom Brogdon and Brogdon took a very difficult runner which was solidly defended by De’Andre Hunter. Brogdon rolled it off the rim and the game made its way into overtime. The Pacers rattled off the first five points of OT to take a 99-94 lead. Young finally scratched for the Hawks with just under three minutes left in the period as he hit a wing three pointer to get his 44th point. Then, after a good defensive stand, the Hawks got an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the final two minutes. Lloyd Pierce took a timeout to try and draw up a play with 1:40 remaining and got Alex Len a wide open look under the basket to tie the game again at 99. Indiana quickly reclaimed the lead with a corner three from T.J. Warren which would end up being the deciding blow. Atlanta had multiple opportunities, but the real back breaker came after Len was able to pick off a Sabonis pass. Len got the ball ahead to DeAndre’ Bembry who went straight at Sabonis on the break for a two pointer (which he missed) when the Hawks needed a three pointer to tie. The Pacers rebounded the miss and hit their free throws to drive the dagger home. Atlanta put up a good fight, but the abysmal effort in the third quarter ended up costing them this one in the end. Trae Young tied his career high (and set a season high) with 49 points and six assists in 42 minutes of action. Bembry and Len each added 15 more and combined to grab 21 rebounds. Outside of those three players, the Hawks scored just 25 points, which is not the most encouraging thing to see. There will be no rest for the weary as the Hawks get right back to it tomorrow night against the Houston Rockets. Stay tuned. View the full article