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Monday, April 29, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 9. Atlanta Hawks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  33-23 (second place, Southeast Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)
  • Points Scored: 97.8 (14th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.6 (11th)
  • Team FG%: .463 (7th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .446 (14th)
  • Team FT%: .706 (26th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .383 (4th)
  • Rebounds per game: 40.8 (26th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.2 (22nd)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.9 (17th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.2 (9th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Josh Smith (17.2)
  • Rebounds per game:  Al Horford (10.0)
  • Minutes per game: Al Horford (37.2)
  • Assists per game: Jeff Teague (7.1)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Al Horford (.555)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Lou Williams (.870)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Kyle Korver (.465)
  • Steals per game:  Jeff Teague (1.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Josh Smith (2.0)
Worst Player of the Month:  Devin Harris

Many must be wondering what happened to the Devin Harris of five years ago who looked as he would be a potential All Star?  Since being shipped off from the Dallas Mavericks in 2008, it has been a rough time for Devin Harris as he had to endure injury riddled season along with playing for a team going absolutely nowhere in the then New Jersey Nets.  Now on his third team in as many years, Devin Harris seems to have reached his peak and looks as if he is headed for decline.  Atlanta was supposed to be another opportunity to revitalize what has otherwise been a rather flat and lack luster career; however, Harris has yet again not been able to capitalize on this opportunity and continues his descent into obscurity.  Although he can no longer be the difference maker that many had anticipated or hoped he would be, at least Harris has managed to put up a solid enough contribution to keep him somewhat relevant still.
First Player of the Month:  Jeff Teague

Out of the entire Hawks roster, no one has shown as much improvement and star potential than Jeff Teague has had so far this regular season.  Teague has gone from being a serviceable point guard on a average team to becoming one of the team's key players as he stepped up his game offensively giving his team an additional offensive boost. February by far had to be Teauge's most productive month of the season as he posted career highs in scoring averaging close to 19 points per game leading the team.  At the same time he shot close to .500 from the field while dishing out a little over nine assists per game.  Hopefully Teague's spike in production is a sign of things to come and not a one time affair  

The 2013 season thus far has been a season of liberation and vindication for the Atlanta Hawks as it managed to remove the dead weight that held them back financially while surprising any doubters that they are still a viable playoff contender.  It started in the off-season when the Hawks managed to rid themselves of two erroneous contracts first by sending their perennial disappointment Marvin Williams and his bloated contract that had years and 16$ million left on it to the Utah Jazz for the expiring contract of Devin Harris.  Then the Hawks pulled off one of the biggest coups in sports finding a sucker to unload Joe Johnson massive contract where he would be owed close to 60$ million over the next three years to the Brooklyn Nets for a huge chunk of expiring contracts.  While the Hawks executed their massive financial purge, many believed that this would be the beginning of a long and arduous rebuilding process; however, that could not be any further from the truth.  Instead  , Atlanta has been one of the pleasant surprises in the 2013 regular season as they rest comfortably in second place in the Southeast Division right behind the Miami Heat with an impressive ten game over .500 record.

At first it did not very good for the Hawks as the stumbled out of the gates after finishing 2012 on a rather high note with a 19-10 record.  The Hawks saw themselves stumbling a bit entering the new year as they lost four of their first five games until they managed to stop the bleeding by beating the Utah Jazz at home (1/11/2013); however that win was not enough to pull the Hawks back up from their slump.  They would lose four of their next five games and went from being nine games over .500 to just being four games above .500 which made the situation look very bleak for this Atlanta team.  Fortunately Atlanta managed to turn things around by winning four of their last five games to finish the month of January with a solid and respectable 26-19 record.  Sad to say the Hawks would stumble yet again in February losing three of their first four games; however, Atlanta bounced back in a major way as they went on a torrid streak winning six of their last seven games to finish the month of February.

Much of the credit of their success has to due with their balanced and efficient effort and performance on both ends of the floor as they may not have wowed many fans with their play, yet they were still rather effective nonetheless.  Although the Atlanta has ranked in the middle of the pack in scoring, they still provide a solid performance on the offensive end shooting at a near impressive clip of .470 from the field.  They also rank among the best in the league in tree point field goal percentage as well leading many to believe that it is not about the quantity of shoots Atlanta takes on offense but the quality of the shot as the Hawks always manage to get good looks with the few shot they take.  They may not look as impressive in terms of rebounding as they rank near the bottom of the league and get out rebounded by their opponent by a more than +3 margin; however, that can all be attributed to them making their shots thus not having to rebound as much.  Obviously, if a team shoot's at nearly .500, they would have less chances to grab any rebounds.

Atlanta's efficient offense has been well balanced by their equally proficient defensive effort as they have forced they opponents to shot under .450 ranking among the top half of the league in that category.  They have been also been quite capable of forcing their opponents to turn over the ball at a rather proficient rate as they rank amongst the top ten in the league in forcing turnovers.  Unfortunately for the Hawks, their ability to force give away has been counterbalanced by the teams inability to hold onto the ball themselves.  Currently there is only a +0.3 advantage between the turnovers that they commit compared to the turnovers that they force.  Nonetheless, it is with such a balanced attack and defense on both ends on the floor that has kept Atlanta, although not very noticeable, still among the top five teams in the Eastern Conference despite being all but ignored for much of the season.

If they manage to remain at the pace they are, Atlanta will certainly be heading to playoff yet again for the seventh straight season; however do not expect the Hawks to fly any farther than they have usually lasted in the post season.  They will still remain in that holding pattern in which they hover long enough to go as far as the conference semifinals to finally come crashing down yet again.  It the same usual performance that their fans have come to expect thus leading the huge sense of sheer apathy which has led this team to have one the league's lowest home arena attendances.  One can go as far to say that with such poor team spirit, the Hawks would be best to move the team to a more appreciative city as the city of Atlanta has shown that they do not deserve having their own NBA franchise.  Nonetheless, despite the massive upheaval in the roster, the Hawks have still manage to remain a solid and consistent winner.