Technically the middle of the season should be at game 41 but somehow we always associate the NBA All-Star break as the halfway point of the season. The Atlanta Hawks have played 58 games and after the break they will have just 24 games left. Even though the season is more than half over that won’t stop us from handing out our mid-term grades for the squad.
There was a game last night and a 10 win New York Knicks team who had lost 18 games straight came into State Farm arena and caught this Atlanta Hawks team napping and proceeded to go on to a 106-91 victory. Not much analysis is need but this young Hawks team definitely overlooked this squad. So since we have your attention, check out our latest post game wrap.
Ok class make sure you take these grades home to your parents, have them sign it and return them back. All grades are based on how the group has performed and not the particular individual.
Guards: ( Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Kent Bazemore, Jeremy Lin, Jaylen Adams, Tyler Dorsey)
The two obvious guys to look at here are Young and Huerter and you have to ask the question “how has their development been from game 1 to game 58 thus far?” Out the gate Young really struggled shooting the ball, especially in December when he shot 35% from the field and 19% from 3. Since then there has been a noticeable difference his shot selection as well as his production. In January Trae picked up his 2nd Eastern Conference rookie of the month award after leading all rookies in scoring and assist.
Huerter started slowly as well but once Kent Bazemore went down, his minutes went up an he became a full time starter at shooting guard. The breakout game for Huerter was definitely the 123-121 win against the Philadelphia 76ers when he scored 29 points. He too has progressed with this scoring and his shot has been solid all year long. On the season Huerter is shooting 42% from 3 and it is looking like Hawks GM Travis Schlenk has hit on that 19th pick two years in a row (last years pick was John Collins).
As for the rest of the group, Jeremy Lin has had a strong showing even though he is in Toronto but he has proven to be more than a capable back-up during his time here in Atlanta. You will be hard pressed to find anyone to write a negative word about Lin. Bazemore has missed a lot of time but he has been solid when he has been healthy.
Dorsey and Adams get incompletes because of their lack of playing time but we won’t put much weight in that for the final grade.
This group if nothing else has been super resilient and has competed every night. They do get dinged the typical rookie mistakes and there is still plenty room of improvement on the defensive side of the ball. With Young and Huerter anchoring this group they should be fine for years to come.
Wings – (Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, Justin Anderson, Vince Carter, Alex Poythress
This group has gone through some mixing and matching and you could even put Bazemore in this group but for sake of this piece we’ll leave him with the guards. Prince missed a good amount of time with his injury but Bembry did a great job starting in his place. Bembry has been the best player by far of this group as he is arguably the Hawks best two way player. A lot of things Bembry does isn’t always visible on the stat sheet but it has been good to see him stay healthy this year.
Vince Carter started the season as the teams starting power forward and now he is playing more of the small forward but he has been a pleasant surprise at times. Prince has continued to show his ability to make shots but still has defensive lapses and makes questionable offensive decisions.
Anderson and Poythress haven’t played much.
This group gets a C because they haven’t done anything really good or bad they have been … relatively average. Prince and Bembry have been what you have kind of expected them to be which isn’t great but isn’t bad. They both have been productive at times but they both still struggle with turnovers. Vince has provided leadership and even Poythress has made some plays when given his opportunity.
Bigs – (John Collins, Dwayne Dedmon, Alex Len, Omari Spellman, Miles Plumlee)
This group has also been hit by injuries with John Collins unable to start the season but since his return he has been the Hawks best player on most nights. He has turned into a 20 and 10 machine in his 2nd year and is definitely one of the foundations of this Hawks rebuild.
Alex Len has been the other surprise of this group especially they way he filled in when Dwayne Dedmon went down. He has added a formidable 3 ball to his game and with Dedmon’s future uncertain after this year this could be the Hawks big man for the next 3-5 years.
Omari Spellman has been up and down, he’s dealt with some injuries and I’m concerned about his propensity to fall in love with the 3 ball and his weight. If nothing else he’s proven that you have to step out to guard him but there needs to be more to his game than that.
Dedmon has been solid when healthy and has become quite the shooter, he will make some decent money next year. Salute to him
I think with John Collins anchoring this group and the play of Alex Len this has been the Hawks strongest position group. Dedmon came off injury and has shot lights out, and even Spellman has provided good minutes when they have gone small. They are asked to do a lot because to make up for the rookies up top and I think they do an above average job with that.
Coaching – (Lloyd Pierce, Melvin Hunt, Chris Jent, Greg Foster, Marlon Garnett, Matt Hill & Pete Babcock
This is a tricky because you have decide how much weight you are going to give to the overall record (19-39) vs the development of this team. Lets be clear, this team wasn’t built to win this year so should we put the blame on a Coach and his staff for not winning games?
I don’t think so.
However, there has to be a level of accountability that you take into consideration. Coach Pierce has a defensive background but was given a stable of offensive players his first year. To his credit he has still held this team to the fire as far as defensive accountability is concerned. From my view he has this teams attention and I think going forward he is the right guy for this team and this city.
From an X’s and O’s standpoint there is room for improvement but if you have a issue with Coach Peirce and his staff, look at this roster and tell me how many wins you think this team should have.
Going into the season I said this was a 20-30 win team but for this team to have dealt with injuries to Bazemore, Collins, Prince, and Dedmon and at times having to start all 3 rookies at once and still get to the All-Star break knocking on 20 wins.
I think that is an above average job.
Throw in the development of the rookies and Coach Peirce’s calm demeanor throughout the ups and downs of this season and we think he’s done a pretty good job.
Those are our mid-season grades, let us know what you think about this group by leaving a comment our send us a tweet on twitter ( @Hawksbeat ).