Saturday, December 22, 2012

Catching Up With the Numbers as the Hawks Flounder


Since we last checked in with Mid-Range Shawty, his shooting numbers have shown positive trends in multiple areas. Through 14 games, Josh Smith was shooting 22% outside the paint while attempting almost six long 2-point attempts per game. In the 10 games since, Smith has shot a blistering 26-for-72 (36%), raising the Mid-Range Shawty Meter to 29% for the season. Meanwhile, according to Hoopdata, Smith is down to only 4.5 long 2-point attempts per game (tied for 17th in the league) while his percentage from this distance has ticked up from 24% to 27%.

To update some other numbers I've been tracking, here's a look at the aggregate +/- numbers in 9 losses this season:

Player / total minutes / aggregate +/-

Full time starters:

Al Horford / 289 / -77
Josh Smith / 330 / -75
Jeff Teague / 265 / -43

Part time starters and reserves:

Anthony Morrow / 79 / -34
Lou Williams / 234 / -60
Devin Harris / 140 / -44
Kyle Korver / 188 / -36
Zaza Pachulia / 179 / -37
DeShawn Stevenson / 201 / -37
Ivan Johnson / 99 / -8
Anthony Tolliver / 92 / +3

As I wrote previously, these numbers continue to suggest that Jeff Teague and Ivan Johnson are being under-utilized while Devin Harris is being over-utilized. I also noted that Johnson had yet to post a negative +/- in a Hawks loss as of Dec. 2nd. Naturally, Johnson has posted a negative +/- in each of the three losses he has appeared in since. Trending in the opposite direction is Anthony Tolliver, suddenly back in the rotation, who has yet to post a negative +/- in a loss since Dec. 2nd. Among reserves, Tolliver and Johnson have clearly hurt Atlanta the least. 

The other stat I've been tracking is the Hawks' won-lost record in games in which DeShawn Stevenson starts. The Hawks are now 7-7 with Stevenson in the starting lineup, meaning Stevenson has started in seven of the Hawks' nine losses. How much of a finger am I trying to point here? Stevenson has been the most heavily-utilized (except Lou Williams) among the reserves and part-time starters in the losses and his +/- total has been respectable in comparison.

However, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore is now reporting that Larry Drew is pondering changes to his starting lineup. Of course, we all know that Drew hasn't been very consistent with his starting lineup throughout the season, preferring to wait until just before game time to announce his starters. But Drew's solution seems obvious: The Hawks are 4-2 in games in which Zaza Pachulia starts, including the team's last quality win over Memphis.

I'm not hating on DeShawn Stevenson. I was glad the Hawks were able to obtain him given his defensive reputation and championship pedigree. But let's look at where Stevenson is as an NBA player. Firstly, he's at the tail end of his career, being rested on the second night of back-to-back games. He's coming off one of the worst seasons, statistically, of any player to wear an NBA uniform last season. He's a shooting guard playing out of position at small forward, giving the Hawks a 3-guard lineup against teams that typically have three front-court players on the court at any given time.

And let's face it, DeShawn Stevenson is not part of the long-term future of the Hawks organization. Call him what he is. He's a stop-gap at small forward. Unfortunately, he's not stopping the gap. The Hawks continue to rank near the bottom of the league in rebounding while Pachulia, an elite per-minute rebounder, plays sporadic minutes off the bench. Hello? McDrew?

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