Hawks Season In Review: Paul Millsap

Monday, May 26, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: Paul Millsap

In his first season with the Hawks, Paul Millsap quickly established himself as one of the team’s leaders in the locker room and on the court, earning his first career All-Star selection. He averaged 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game — setting career-highs in points and assists.

Millsap flourished in the Hawks’ offense, and was able to exhibit the many different offensive weapons in his arsenal. After playing primarily out of the post and spot-up looks from the mid-range in Utah, Millsap came into the season excited about playing in Coach Bud’s offense that would allow him to play more in space in pick-and-roll/pop plays and with the off-ball motion of the offense. While always a good mid-range shooter, Millsap expanded his shooting range to the three-point line where he shot 35.8 percent on 2.9 attempts per game — well above his previous career high of 0.5 attempts per game. Becoming that consistent three-point threat opened up the floor for Jeff Teague and the rest of the Atlanta offense to operate and created opportunities for himself to pump-fake and drive to the basket.

Early in the season, Millsap and Al Horford quickly became one of the most explosive offensive frontcourts in the league and put a lot of pressure on defenses to step outside the paint and cover them in the mid-range and — for Millsap — behind the three-point line. Prior to Horford’s injury, Millsap was shooting an incredible 47.1 percent from three-point range, benefiting from the attention Horford commanded from opposing bigs.

After the Horford injury, Millsap took on the role of being the Hawks primary scorer, as his usage jumped from 23.3 percent to 26.5 percent and his points per game jumped from 16.7 to 18.7 as the top option in the offense. As his usage increased and defenses focused their attention on him without Horford on the court, his efficiency took a hit as he shot 31 percent from three-point range and 44.7 percent from the field as a whole, but even still he was exceptional at both ends of the floor as he helped the Hawks stay in the playoff hunt.

On defense, Millsap was very strong against the pick-and-roll and post-ups, ranking 70th in the NBA in points per possession allowed in both of those categories, per Synergy Sports. He was active in rotations at the rim and was very good at getting in passing lanes to deflect or steal the ball. Millsap’s 1.7 steals per game were good for ninth in the NBA this season, and his 101.9 defensive rating for the season was 20th best in the NBA, per Basketball-Reference.com.

With Horford returning, the Hawks figure to have one of the top frontcourts in the league next season. Millsap proved this season that he is more than capable of shouldering the load and was rewarded with a well-deserved All-Star selection. Adding Horford to Millsap for — hopefully — a full season could create one of the most dangerous scoring 4-5 combos in all of the NBA, and on defense both players are underrated and both extremely effective. Horford was the known commodity coming into this season in Atlanta, but Millsap proved himself to be well worth the signing this past offseason and Hawks fans should be extremely excited about the possibilities next season with these two leading the way.

Click here to see Millsap’s season gallery

Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Hawks Season In Review: Gustavo Ayon

Friday, May 23, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: Gustavo Ayon

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

Coming into the season, the Hawks looked to have a deep frontcourt rotation, and Gustavo Ayon figured to be one of the options for Coach Mike Budenholzer off the bench. Ayon was fresh off of a terrific showing in the FIBA Americas tournament where he earned MVP honors and led the Mexico National Team to a surprising tournament win. In the preseason, Ayon suffered a right shoulder injury that kept him out of the rotation until mid-November, but he got an opportunity to play in 26 games before he re-injured the shoulder and was forced to have season-ending surgery.

In those 26 games — 14 starts — Ayon averaged 4.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 steals in 16.5 minutes per game. Over a 10-game stretch from late January through mid-February, he averaged 6.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, culminating in an impressive performance in Toronto on Feb. 18 where he scored 18 points and hauled in 10 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, that would be his last full game as he re-injured the shoulder after just six minutes of play in Indiana.

Ayon struggled a bit early as he worked his way back from injury but began finding his form and his role with the team in that latter stretch of games before his second shoulder injury. He, when healthy, gave the Hawks some much needed size in the middle, and during that stretch of games in the starting lineup he began to find a rhythm on both ends of the floor — making solid rotations on defense and finding openings around the rim on offense.

Ayon’s injury further limited the Hawks’ frontcourt options and left Elton Brand and Pero Antic as the only two healthy centers on the roster. Ayon’s impact on the Hawks was limited this season by injuries and the difficulty in finding minutes early in the season, but when he was offered an opportunity as the injury toll grew, he was able to become a solid rotational player for Coach Bud.

Click here to see Ayon’s season gallery

Graphic by Lucas Armstrong/Atlanta Hawks

Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

VIDEO: Mike Scott Playing Basketball On Plastic Hoop

Thursday, May 22, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

Proof that Mike Scott would win the plastic basketball hoop dunk contest:

Hawks Season In Review: Shelvin Mack

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: Shelvin Mack

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

After bouncing around between three NBA teams and a D-League team in his first two seasons in the league, Shelvin Mack established himself this past season with a breakout performance as the primary backup point guard for the Hawks behind Jeff Teague. Mack averaged 7.5 points, 3.7 assists, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.7 steals per game in 20.4 minutes per game in 73 appearances this season.

Entering training camp, Mack was thought to be the third point guard behind rookie Dennis Schröder, but he asserted himself and earned the backup role early in the season. Mack, like Mike Scott, was terrific early in the season and prior to the All-Star break was shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three-point range. After the All-Star break, Mack — like the team as a whole — went through a bit of a slump with his efficiency, shooting just 39.9 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from three-point range. With all of the Hawks’ injuries, Mack — and the team — had to adjust to playing with totally different lineups and rotations, which clearly effected their offensive output and efficiency.

Even so, Mack put together a very impressive 2013-14 campaign. He orchestrated the Hawks’ offense very well, facilitating as the primary ball-handler when needed and also limited his turnovers at just 1.2 per game. On defense, he made strides as an on-ball defender and did very well against isolation play, allowing just 0.77 points per possession on 39.6 percent shooting against isolation, per Synergy Sports.

When needed, Mack showed the ability to step up and make big shots and played well against the Pacers in the playoffs. In that first round series, Mack averaged 8.1 points and 3.6 assists with just 0.9 turnovers in 16.9 minutes per game. Mack had a terrific performance in Game 5 in Indiana, when he scored 20 points on 5-of-9 shooting –13 in the second quarter — to, along with Mike Scott’s effort, lead the Hawks to a big road victory. 

Mack’s emergence was certainly a highlight of the Hawks season, and was emblematic of the success of the Hawks coaching staff this season with player development and the commitment of the Hawks’ players to step up all year.

Click here to view Mack’s season gallery

Graphic by Lucas Armstrong/Atlanta Hawks

Most Retweeted Tweets of the Season

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

We had a lot of fun with you on Twitter this season, and we thank you for that.  Here are the 10 tweets that you all retweeted most in 2013-14:

10)  A huge demand for the shirt with the new logo on it:

 

9)  Another good #FreebieFriday giveaway:

 

8)  Because we show up first alphabetically in the summer standings:

 

7)  Dominique Wilkins recreating a photo from 1993:

 

6)  After losing Game 7, and the series, to the Pacers:

 

5)  Alluding to Al Horford’s two game-winning shots this season:

 

4)  In response to the fact that we had already postponed our game because of the ice storm:

 

3)  Our most successful #FreebieFriday post ever…you all really wanted free tickets on this day:

 

2)  Asking fans to join us in congratulating Kyle Korver after he set a new three-point record:

 

1)  In response to Kevin Durant’s 41-point game, which included a game winner against us:

Hawks Season In Review: Al Horford

Monday, May 19, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: Al Horford

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

Al Horford got off to a tremendous start to the 2013-14 season, posting a career-high 18.6 points per game along with 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 blocks through 29 games. He was shooting 56.7 percent from the field and had a 22.0 PER, both career-highs as well. Horford looked like a lock for his third All-Star appearance and had the Hawks solidly in the third position in the Eastern Conference.

That all came to a grinding halt in Cleveland on Dec. 26, when he tore his right pectoral muscle in the fourth quarter of an eventual double-overtime victory when he, seemingly innocuously, reached out while defending an inbound pass. Horford’s loss was huge for the Hawks, as they struggled to replace his production and leadership on the floor. The team did well in his absence, holding onto their playoff spot and pushing the Pacers to seven games in the first round, but it was hard not to think about what could have been.

With Horford, the Hawks were three games above .500 and in command of third in the East. Offensively, Atlanta was terrific prior to the Horford injury both moving the ball and shooting. They were tops in the NBA in assists per game at 25.9 per game, ranked fourth in the NBA in FG% (47.1%) and eFG% (52.6%), and were 10th in the NBA in offensive rating at 104.7. On defense, the Hawks had the 13th best defensive rating (102.3) prior to Horford’s injury and had a net rating of +2.4.

The loss of Horford definitely put a damper on the Hawks’ season, but that first 29 games — a stretch during which they were still learning Coach Bud’s system on the fly — offered a glimpse into the potential of this team when healthy. Horford is looking at the injury as an opportunity to continue improving, saying that it gives him a rare opportunity to work on his game for a full year. When Horford spoke to the media a few months back, he noted that it would force him to develop his left-hand on offense — something he said he’s always avoided — and hoped that he would come back with a more developed and refined offensive game.

The Hawks can’t wait to see the big guy back on the court and healthy next fall for training camp, and Horford will be looking to make up for lost time next season alongside Paul MillsapJeff TeagueKyle Korver and the rest of the crew.

Click here to see Al Horford’s season photo gallery

Graphic by Lucas Armstrong/Atlanta Hawks

Hawks Season In Review: John Jenkins

Friday, May 16, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: John Jenkins

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

John Jenkins‘ second season was marred by constant back issues from the start of the season, eventually ending in him having season-ending back surgery on Feb. 3. Jenkins’ back problems started in training camp and limited him to just 13 games played this season.

The Hawks had high hopes coming into camp for Jenkins, as he was expected to provide another shooter off the bench for Coach Bud’s offense that places such a heavy emphasis on spacing and the three-point shot. His back problems clearly effected his shooting when he was able to get into game action, as he shot just 38.1 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three-point range.

Jenkins’ best shooting game came against the Rockets on Nov. 27, when he had a season high 13 points and was 3-of-6 from the three-point line. As the back injury continued to be a problem, Jenkins struggled to get on the court, and when he did he struggled to be effective.

Jenkins hopes to rebound in the 2014-15 season, and at exit interviews Coach Bud said he was excited to see Jenkins participate in Summer League. Despite the disappointment of this past season, Jenkins, if he can stay healthy and on form, will have an opportunity to be a contributor with the way he seems to fit in Bud’s offense.

Click here for Jenkins’ season gallery

Top 10 Hawks Facebook Posts of the 2013-14 Season

Thursday, May 15, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

We had a lot of fun with you all on social media this season.  So much fun, in fact, that we’ve decided to share our 10 most engaging Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts!  Keep in mind these were selected by you based on what you react to, liked, shared, etc.

#10 – Fans wish Dominique Wilkins a Happy Birthday.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#9 – The Hawks opened the playoffs by beating the Pacers in Game 1.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#8 – Paul Millsap is selected to his first All-Star Game

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#7 – The Hawks win Game 5 on the road against the Pacers.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#6 – Fans congratulate Kyle Korver after his three-point streak ended.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#5 – Hawks beat the Heat 121-114 at Philips Arena.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#4 – Thanking fans for a great season.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#3 – Fans caption Pero Antic and David West’s staredown.

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#2 – Macedonia erupts upon learning Pero Antic made the Rising Stars Challenge.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

#1 – Dominique Wilkins recreated an iconic photo during our trip to London in January.

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Post by Atlanta Hawks.

Hawks Season In Review: Mike Scott

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: Mike Scott

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

Perhaps no player on the Hawks took a bigger step forward this season than second-year man Mike Scott. After playing just 9.4 minutes per game in 40 games last season, Scott averaged 18.5 minutes per in his 80 games played this season. Scott averaged 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game for the season on 47.9 percent shooting (31% from three-point range), and took on a crucial role late in the season and in the playoffs.

Scott said on multiple occasions that his focus during the offseason was on improving his conditioning and expanding his range. He excelled in both areas as he got himself in terrific shape and became a legitimate three-point threat. After the Al Horford injury — and with the combination of injuries to the rest of the frontcourt — Scott got an opportunity to become a key role-player for the Hawks, and he took full advantage of those opportunities.

In 13 consecutive games from Jan. 8 – Feb. 5, Scott scored in double-digits. In that stretch, Scott averaged 14.3 points per game on 59.4 percent shooting (40.5% from three). Scott’s offensive production was crucial for the Hawks with Horford out, as they were in desperate need of a consistent scoring threat from the collection of bench bigs.

Scott’s best performance of the season came against the Knicks on Feb. 22 as he scored a career-high 30 points with eight rebounds to help the Hawks snap an eight-game losing streak. Scott was 6-for-7 from the three-point line in that game in an incredible shooting performance.

Scott went through a rough shooting stretch to close the season for the Hawks, making multiple three-pointers just once in the final 24 games of the season, but he remained confident and in Game 5 of the Hawks’ first round series, Scott lit the Pacers up for 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting (5-of-5 from three), all in the second quarter. The victory gave the Hawks a 3-2 series lead, and Scott was the biggest factor in that win.

On defense, Scott made strides with his movement and ability to stay in front of quicker perimeter players — again a focus of his during the last offseason. Per Synergy Sports, Scott was effective defensively in isolation situations, allowing just 0.76 points per possession on 33.9 percent shooting — good for 88th in the NBA. Scott still has opportunities to improve on defense by continuing to improve his footwork and strength in the paint, but he took strides in the right direction this season on that side of the ball as well.

Scott proved this season that he has the ability to produce at a high level offensively and can be a threat from the three-point range, mid-range, and in the post — where he improved a great deal this year shooting 53.8% on post-ups for 0.97 PPP, good for 27th in the NBA. He also showed that his best basketball is still ahead of him by continuing to improve all season, particularly in being tighter with the details of being a big man — like rotations, positioning, and rebounding.

Scott’s season was definitely one of the bright spots for the Hawks this season, as he took a big leap forward and showed that he has a bright future.

Click here to see Mike Scott’s season gallery

Graphic by Lucas Armstrong/Atlanta Hawks

A Sneak Peek At New Hawks Merchandise

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
A Sneak Peek At New Hawks Merchandise

Atlanta Hawks fans now have their first look at what the team’s new secondary logo will look like on merchandise.

Above is what the new logo will look like on one of the hats that will be available when the merchandise goes on sale later this summer.  Fans can sign up to receive an email when the gear is available.

The Hawks released the new secondary mark prior to Game 6 of the 2014 playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.  It’s an evolved version of a logo Atlanta had for 23 years until the mid-90s.  All fans in attendance for Game 6 received a shirt with the new logo, but no other merchandise has been made available.

Click here to sign up to receive an email when new merchandise is available