What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Monday, February 18, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 9. Atlanta Hawks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):   20-10,  second  place Southeast Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):
  • Points Scored: 97.9 (12th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.6 (7th)
  • Team FG%: .458 (7th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .443 (13th)
  • Rebounds per game: 40.9 (23rd)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.9 (23rd)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.4 (9th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 16.0 (5th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

  • Scoring (ppg): Josh Smith (16.9)
  • Rebounds per game:  Al Horford (9.6)
  • Minutes per game:  Al Horford (37.0)
  • Assists per game: Jeff Teague (6.7)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Ivan Johnson (.573)
  • Steals per game:  Jeff Teague (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Josh Smith (2.3)

Worst Player of the Month: Devin Harris

Remember when Devin Harris was considered as one of the young up and coming point guards to watch out for in the league?  It seemed like so long ago, there were so many high expectations, but as a result of injuries and wasting much of his career on a rather poor team,, all that potential has all but blown up in smoke.  Now he is nothing more than another over rated and overpaid player with an expiring contract that will give the Hawks much needed cap space once the season ends.  He is certainly no longer a factor as he once was playing for the one time New Jersey Nets as he only averaged just nine points per game while shooting an abysmal .583 from the free throw line.  With his dimishing value and expiring, it is more than likely that this will probably the last we will see of Devin Harris in Atlanta--he will either be let go once the season ends, or most likely be used as a bargaining chip for a potential deal as the trade deadline nears.
First Player of the Month: Lou Williams

If there was an Unsung hero award in the NBA, it would have to go to Lou Williams as he is probably one of the most underrated players in the league right now.  For the month of December, Williams came off of the bench to average close to 16 points, four assists and a steal per game while shooting .400 from beyond the arc.  Known for being a rather streaky offensive player, Williams remained quite consisted in December scoring in double figures in every game except one--nine of which were 15 points or more.  What is even more interesting about Williams case is not what he has been producing, but the rather small amount that Atlanta got him for.  At 5$ million per year for three years, Williams has been a virtual steal in terms of value for the Hawks and if he continues his stellar production, he may get even more notoriety as the season progresses.


There is an ancient philosophical riddle that best illustrates the current situation of the Atlanta Hawks and it goes like this: "if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound?"  In the case of the Atlanta Hawks, it would go more like this: "if an NBA franchise has a winning record and no one bothers to give them any attention to it, does it even matter?"  For the past couple of months, the Atlanta Hawks have had one of the best records in the Eastern Conference currently trailing the Miami Heat and the third best record behind the New York Knicks.  Yet, there is little or no mention of them as they receive little or no attention from the media nor any real recognition or respect whatsoever.  Even the team's fanbase has been less than receptive as there has not been any real chatter of excitement as the Hawks remain a team with one of the lowest arena attendances in the league despite the team's success.

It is as if the Hawks have been completely invisible to the naked eye as they have literally flown under the radar for much of the season with great stealth and silence.  One can liken the Hawks to  the followers and masters of the ancient martial art of the ninjiutsu--swiftly slicing through through the NBA in darkness and secrecy assassinating all those who come in their way.  Although the image and reputation of the ninja has been romanticized throughout its history for their sleek, silent and deadly approach, they still remain admonished and shunned as they have been often linked to the genre of criminals and murderers.  Unfortunately for the Atlanta Hawks, they have received neither positive or negative exposure for their exploits as they have been all but completely ignored for most of the season.  Unlike the ninja, they have neither received fortune or acclaim and have been cursed to wander in the darkness and shadows remaining overlooked and ignored.

December was certainly a rather busy month for this band of basketball shinobi as the Hawks virtually sliced and diced the opponents without as much as a cream or even a whimper.  They entered the month silently striking their opponents who were caught napping with ruthless efficiency as Atlanta won six of their first eight games losing only to the division leading Miami Heat (12/10/2012) and resurgent Golden State Warriors (12/15/2012).  In those six wins, the Hawks simply stifled up their unsuspecting foes' offenses holding them to scoring just 91.2 points and .426 shooting from the field.  In fact, throughout the entire month of December, the Hawks were virtually undefeated when holding their opponents to under 100 points, losing just one game against the Philadelphia 76ers (12/21/2012).  On the flip side, when the Hawks allowed their opponents to score 100 or more points, which was rather rare to say the least, they were 3-3 for the month.

Perhaps the reason behind Atlanta rather obscured season could be the simple fact that the Hawks do not have the dominant marquee players such as a Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, or Kobe Bryant.  Save for Josh Smith and Al Horford who have been having rather nondescript seasons, there are really no big name players for fans to follow or cheer for as no one one on that roster really stands out.  Every win has been a combined team effort with no one really outshining each other which has been in itself both a blessing and a curse for the Hawks this season.  Atlanta has simply been blessed with a solid group of role players that play within their own abilities and put forth a solid effort every time they set their feet on the basketball court.  Unfortunately, in a media culture that focuses more on individual  accomplishments and high profile personalities, the solid group effort of the Hawks have essentially been swept under the rock in favor of flashy players and off the court drama.

Thus the Hawks continue to swoop through the shadows not being seen or heard until the time when someone say that enough is enough and look to relocate the team to a more deserving city than Atlanta.  Although the Hawks have silently risen to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, it does them little or no good as their low key status hampers them from acquiring any marquee name players in free agency.  As long as Atlanta remains in the shadows, there will be no real chance of them getting any better or reaching any higher because it simply does not have the tools to upgrade the team enough to reach that next step.  Thus reveals professional basketball's saddest tragedy--a team that, despite its best efforts and achievements, cannot garner any respect or acclaim no matter how hard it tries.  Hopefully, as the season wears on, the Hawks can remain resilient enough until the spotlight manages to find its way and shine on them for once.