Monday, December 22, 2008

Official HHB Hawks Power Rankings

Since the HHB spent the better part of last week blathering on about these usual items----

1. Hawks Win
2. RFM v. Acie Law IV
3. Josh Smith

(Sidenote: It's a great day when a win over the Detroit Pistons, in any building, leaves a content, yet unmoved entry in the collective consciousness of Hawk Nation---again, relevance---a very nice thing.)

----an executive at the Official HHB Think Tank mused that since Power Rankings are so popular, can't the HHB cash in too?! Absolutely! Instead of ranking teams, we'll rank the Hawks players in terms of current importance. Useless, right? Great!!

The Official HHB Hawks Power Rankings will only include the currently active players on the team---in other words, Speedy Claxton need not apply.

OK, Let's Rank 'Em!

12. Randolph Morris

The Man that Drew over at Zaza's Playground calles "McSmiles" has been "McIrrelevant"---still, he played as many minutes on Sunday as Kwame Brown, the player that had the HHB Seal of Approval on signing this summer. So, nothing from nothing leaves----nothing.

11. Ronald "RFM" Murray

That's right. He's down here. Why? Because, despite the consecutive games in the plus column, he's a walking turnover, takes odd shots, and is blocking the development of Acie Law with his mind boggling regular minutes.

He's the player the other team wants to see in the game and there is NO reason he should ever be dribbling down the clock to close a quarter, especially when Joe Johnson is on the floor. Why Woodson makes this a regular occurrence is even more puzzling that the 2 fouls and out rule on every player in the first half.

10. Mario West

We all love Mario West---and his occasional 4.3 seconds in a game is something we all TiVo to hope to catch, like a UFO sighting or the like. He has great athleticism and is a great guy to have by most accounts, but he is more mascot than all-star given his rate of utilization.

9. Maurice Evans

Now, we at the HHB aren't going to say we told you so, but Mo Evans is no Josh Childress. Productive in November, the month of December has been a soggy gift to Evans, who is putting up some amazingly bad numbers in 11 games this holiday season.

Evans is shooting 19-67 (that's 28 percent, everybody!) this month and that includes 4-31 (12 percent) from 3 all while getting 20 minutes per game over those 11 games.

We'll let the more advanced statistical stylings of Peachtree Hoops noodle some of the PER and 82games style analysis, but to us those numbers are not good.

8. Solomon Jones

His +/- numbers are, as Nacho Libre would say, uh-stinky. Still, he runs the court well and finishes strong, but has many gaps in the NBA DNA that show that he is best suited in small doses. The Hawks need him due to the prolific lack of size on the team, but when asked to shoulder more of the load in Josh Smith's absence, those gaps shone bright like the Sun on the planet Mercury. Will likely fall behind Evans on this list once Mo kills Dr. Evil and gets his mojo back.

7. Acie Law

His run rates are up from a year ago, though the sample size this year is disgustingly small, especially for someone that cost a lottery pick a year ago.

It's simple. Point guards require more time to bake in the NBA oven. You HAVE to give them time on the court to assimilate. There is no reason to have a young, promising player like Law on the bench and a stud point guard in front of him to give those backup minutes to a journeyman who doesn't even play that position.

Law is listed here because he is important to the growth of the team long term. The team simply HAS to develop a PG to replace Mike Bibby when his age catches up to him quickly. It is critical that the Hawks wake up and put some investment here beyond the day of the draft.

His PER is even with RFM despite the total lack of consistent playing time. Also, his AST% and ORtg are better than RFM as well---just sayin'.

Oh, and Rodney Stuckey just called. He wants to thank the Hawks for not selecting him with the 11th pick and subsequently burying his career.

6. Zaza Pachulia

Save for the brief stint in the Salim Stoudamire Memorial Doghouse, Pachulia has done what he looks like he'll make a career doing: Coming off the bench, generating a bundle of second chance baskets, and never get above the rim.

(BTW---Pachulia's 5 minute performance against the Pistons brought this thought to mind---Does anybody think that Woodson didn't want to finally get past Detroit at every cost? He spent 40+ plus minutes on Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford, while giving 38 to Mike Bibby, which is like 59 minutes on Bibby time.)

5. Marvin Williams

Moustache Marv has been real good this season and is finding his niche. Peachtree Hoops commented the other day about Marv not even being able to play to his draft spot, but sounds like a good teammate. Agreed here. Williams has been more aggressive, more energetic, and seems more glued to the team than at any other point previous to this season.

4. Al Horford

He would be higher save for the complete lack of post plays in the Mike Woodson playbook. the HHB has said that he needs to refine his post moves, and he unleashed a dandy the one time he seemed to get the ball in the post against Rasheed Wallace.

He brings great energy to his place on the team and continues to grow. His defense can be spotty at times, but he is usually giving up height and is extremely allergic to picking up fouls inside (due to Woodson's "awesome" 2 foul first half program), leading to sometime easy baskets for the other team. He can block shots prodigiously when that fear factor is not in play. Funny though, that fear doesn't seem to come into play when he is outside the lane defensively and he picks up some very foolish reach in fouls.

Still, Horfy is vital to the team and his lack of presence is felt when he doesn't play. Working the ball through the post more would help the whole team because of Al's excellent passing touch, but what do we know? (Answer: Not much.)

3. Josh Smith

It was obvious that when Smith was out, the Hawks suffered. As we wrote a few entries ago, we take the great with the annoyances.

He is terrific going to the basket---not so much from the outside. He takes ridiculous chances on passing lanes which are about as effective as his three point shot, but he also serves notice in the lane at any time. He has a good eye for the open man and when to launch the pass to that guy, but often tries to Dan Marino the thing in there one handed, often missing the mark.

In short, it's really good to have him here and he is incredible when dedicated to going to the hoop offensively, even if we have to avert our eyes from time to time.

2. Joe Johnson

A-ha! JoJo is not #1 at this time. But it does not take away from the fact that the man is a vicious on-ball defender and is an absolute shooting maestro on the court. His late game shots are money, giving the opposition his killer sauce even though they know what's coming.

Johnson is unselfish, yet unafraid. His free throw shooting is not the 90 percent you would think it would be from such an amazing shooter, but it's nitpicking. He's so good, there ought to be a permanent spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for Joe until further notice.

1. Mike Bibby

Before Bibby arrived, teams routinely doubled Johnson and his numbers suffered, as did the team's.

Before Bibby arrived, there was no question who was the only person who could take the shot to win the game.

Before Bibby arrived the Hawks were on the bubble as a playoff team in the East, not a great endorsement of the team's status.


Now the Hawks have a legit playmaker who can get the ball to the right place at the right time (amazing!) AND can knock down the big shot.

Now the Hawks have room to shoot, room to move, options out of the post.

In short, Bibby brought it all together---and in a game like Sunday's against the Pistons, when Joe didn't have his fastball at any level, it was Bibby who carried the team.

Thank you, Mike! You're #1!

The HHB consults many different experts for the Hawks Power Rankings, including the stars, tea leaves, and an autographed picture of a B-52 bomber. Comments are Welcome in the Comments Section.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Jay. The 2 minute rule resonated quite a bit with me. I am also 100% on the same page regarding Acie. Two ongoing issues that show no signs of being satisfactorily resolved. Good times.

Jason Walker said...

Ah yes---Thanks, AHF!

I am just hoping we don't stumble across another Woody idiosyncracy like he won't play ZaZa more than 7 minutes in a game because he microwaved fish before the game---