Friday, April 13, 2018

NBA Draft 2018: A Quick Look at the Top Six for the Atlanta Hawks

Let's make this quick as there will be more to come as the Hawks know what pick they will have in mid-May when the Lottery occurs.

DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

At first look, the center that most call the #1 pick in this draft looks less like Joel Embiid than you would like, should the Hawks win the lottery. He has an okay college 3-point shot, does not look terribly long as a defensive disruptor and his skills look a little raw on both ends. He is a legit 7-footer, so that's something, but would love to see a more polished player with more projection in this spot.

Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

He is interesting, though this is someone I want to watch more as the draft season wears on through the spring. By some accounts, he is part Toni Kukoc, but with more a point guard player mentality, rather than Toni, who was a very capable passer, but not an offensive initiator in his time in the NBA. Doncic could fill the playmaker spot that we see Ricky Rubio filling into in Utah, but with a much taller frame to boot.

Jaren Jackson, Jr., PF, Michigan State

Defensively, he is exciting, and may project best into the recent Threes and D mold more than anyone else in this grouping. However, I am not convinced of his offense, which looks less than fluid and his body size is scrawny. I do love a shot-blocker, however, and JJJ definitely fits the mold, averaging a higher block rate than Ayton, easily.

Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke

The most polished offense player I have seen is Bagley, who is very long, can play either back to the basket or facing and is super aggressive on the offensive end. He is a scorer and a good one, even finishing above the rim consistently and authoritatively. His defensive side is almost a zero, but he has the size and length to be a factor if coached. He reminds almost immediately of Julius Randle, but taller and with more above the rim capabilities.

Michael Porter, SF, Missouri

We were robbed of seeing Porter, who came from high school as maybe the most electric scorer in the country, since his back injury cost him nearly the entire season. When he returned, he was not physically the same, which is obviously concerning. Did he lose even one level of his physicality? Will the back injury project as chronic (if you can do such a thing)? We will see if he allows teams to check the back during the draft process and it will be a major red flag if he will not. If his back is fine, he is a creative and skilled scorer, maybe like Blake Griffin coming from Oklahoma. But that is a big if.

Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

Bamba looks great to me as a defensive center in the mold of Rudy Gobert. He is risky because, while Gobert has become a playoff caliber force, there is no guarantee Bamba will develop the same way. Still, how he might fit into a Mike Budenholzer coached team could be a factor here.

What do you think the Hawks ought to do at the top? Is there someone else you would consider up here? Let me know in the Comments area or hit me up @JasonWalkerNBA on the Twitter machine.

Back again!

THHB is back after another short stint to look at the Atlanta Hawks. You can hear our takes on The Bill Shanks Show from time to time and on Twitter @JasonWalkerNBA.

With shutting down a successful four-year run in Daily Fantasy Sports, there will be some time to mark any pressing (to me) news with the Good Guys, A.K.A The Atlanta Hawks.

Since my last post was COMPLETELY wrong and much changed with the team last offseason, and a regular season that has landed the Hawks in the heart of a pretty strong lottery pick, let's pick things back up.

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Don't Expect Much to Change in Atlanta this offseason

After an expected lesser campaign in 2016-17 than the season before, and the voluntary separation of the team from Kyle Korver, along with the pending free agency of Paul Millsap, one would surely understand if you believed change was headed the Hawks way this offseason.

After all, Dwight Howard ended the season on a sad thought, the Hawks could not beat a team maybe best suited for them to upset in the Wizards, and Millsap is on the wrong side, NBA-wise, of 30 years old and looking for an Al Horford type contract, assumedly.

My thought? Get used to what you are seeing.

Did Tony Dressler make the call to take Paul Millsap off the trading block, a move that would have looked more like trying to build around a younger core of players, in order for them to lose him for nothing this offseason? Is the lesson he says he learned from the Al Horford negotiations one of letting the same thing happen again?

Also, has there been anything that Ressler said or done that makes it seem like Dwight Howard, who has a niche group of people that appreciate what he can do on the court these days, would be asked to dissolve his contract, much like the Celtics did with Dominique all those years ago?

ESPN was recently bearish on a Millsap return, and he may very well choose a more championship-ready destination, but it will not be because the Hawks left 1M/yr on the table, as they awkwardly did for Horford last summer. I believe they will try to cram the pentagon-shaped block into the Hawks-shaped hole and roll Millsap-Howard out there again.

Truth be told, it was never the front court that killed the Hawks this season, it was the awful, dreadful defense of the backcourt that, time after time, submarined the Hawks. True that Howard was left ineffective at the very end of the season, but his numbers were up from his previous season and definitely  aided them to their first top 15 in REB% since the 2007-2008 season.

Howard was fourth in DEF REB% in the league this season, shoring up a long, long hole in the Hawks center position. Howard holds the team record now for that stat among players eligible for the scoring title and since that stat has been collection. His 31.7% is more than Dikembe Mutombo (31.3%, 1999-2000) and Kevin Willis (30.9%, 1991-92) when they were Hawks.

Does that make any great difference? Not in terms of pushing the team higher, but it was a team that traded Jeff Teague for draft pick. Taurean Prince looked really good at the end of the season, but there was some gap in the backcourt that losing Teague and not bringing in any proven productive PG made. Also, Kyle Korver declining and subsequent trade impacted the Hawks by not having the usual amounts of space on the floor, limiting the Hawks offensive efficiencies. Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore ended up 189 and 196th in defensive rating, allowing over 105 points per 100 possessions when on the floor.

So there was more to it than just an end-of-the-season disgruntled Dwight Howard and it does not sound like the owner has regrets, rather, he sounds led to not make the same mistake happen again as in the Horford scenario.

It seems more likely, rather than a complete teardown, that the Hawks attempt to address things that went awry, as in the aforementioned defensive issues and spacing problems in the starting lineup. It is the more likely scenario and one that will help ownership feel better about the gazillions he is paying Howard and Bazemore for next season. It all starts with convincing Millsap to stay, which is the top priority.

If he goes, then anything goes, but I would say this is the Plan A for the Atlanta Hawks: Tweak and seek to fill the gaps, keep the stars, and not be a lottery team.

Brace yourselves.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

My take on all the experts on Washington and nobody being on Atlanta.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Yes, Thabo!

A statement from Thabo Sefolosha, as released through the Hawks PR department:

“I would like to thank my family and friends, Coach Bud and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization, the NBA and the NBA Players Association, my agents Guy Zucker and Herman Manakyan, and my attorney throughout this process, Alex Spiro. The support that I received over the past two years from each was invaluable and something that I will never forget.

It is an extremely gratifying feeling to know that justice has been served and that now, finally, I can truly put this behind me. To fight for what is right and be fully exonerated and vindicated is both satisfying and very humbling.

We are all aware that there are still too many cases of police brutality today. So many of these cases go unnoticed or unreported; so many victims do not have the means to fight for justice as I could. It’s unfair.

While I alone can’t bring the type of change needed to eliminate these issues, I want to help make a difference. A substantial portion of my settlement will be donated to Gideon’s Promise, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps support and train public defenders across the country.

On their website, it reads ‘We are the voice for the voiceless’. I hope my donation can help give many more people a voice to fight for justice as I did.

Thank you, Thabo!