The Hawks are now a little over a quarter of the way into their season and we take this opportunity to break things down and offer a few thoughts on what we have seen thus far.
Record: (16-9) 5th in the Eastern Conference, 8-5 Home, 8-4 Road
Atlanta has endured some ups and downs since starting the season off by winning it's first six games. They followed that early winning streak up by losing their next four games and seven of their next nine. Since that point they have won seven of nine with the only two losses coming on the road in Miami and San Antonio. The Hawks have not enjoyed the success at home that they did last season having already lost five games at Philips Arena this season. Atlanta only lost seven times at Philips all of last season. The Hawks have enjoyed more success on the road however as they have begun the season 8-4. This after compiling a losing record on the road last season. Atlanta was able to dodge the injury bug last season but have not been as fortunate this season as they already spent a stretch without a healthy small forward on the roster as Marvin Williams and Mo Evans were both out with knee injuries. Eighteen games into the season Joe Johnson was lost for four to six weeks with an elbow injury that required surgery.
Offense: (98.8 ppg) 17th in the NBA, Hollinger Stats 9th in Offensive Efficiency 106.3
Much was made of the switch in philosophy that coach Larry Drew promised after he took over as head coach of the Hawks. Drew promised to move away from the isolation heavy game that the Hawks had showcased the last few seasons. The results have been promising as the team has stayed efficient and you can see them becoming more comfortable with the system. Atlanta is second in assist ratio according to Hollinger stats and are fourth overall in the NBA at nearly 24 assists per game. The offense has provided more opportunities for Al Horford and we have seen him take his game to another level thus far.
Defense: (96.6) 8th in the NBA, Hollinger Stats 15th in Defensive Efficiency 103.9
Coach Drew also promised a switch in philosophy defensively saying that the Hawks would play more straight up and cut down on the constant switching that became a staple of the team under Woodson. Thus far this has been a mixed bag for the team as it has became apparent that the switching was able to mask some of the Hawks difficulties in guarding the perimeter. The Hawks still have problems with speedier penetrating point guards and struggled early in terms of focus. Although they have played much better of late.
Probably one of the biggest complaints that I read in our game threads but I am not sure that all of the criticism is warranted. For one thing coach Drew has shown the willingness to change things up and has had to with all of the injuries that the Hawks have suffered. He has played Jason Collins more this season than Collins played all of last season. One controversy that is still there is the two foul rule that seems to tie a player to the bench for the entire first half. In some instances I am fine with that but in others I would like to see that player back out there to pick up a third. Jordan Crawford has played sparingly but that really isn't a surprise to me given that the Hawks were essentially set in the back court. Jeff Teague has seen sporadic playing time of late even logging some DNP's along the way. That is a far cry from the preseason talk of Teague potentially being able to wrestle the starting point guard position away from Mike Bibby. I'm not ready to make a judgement of that just yet as Teague's minutes seemed to start dwindling when the Hawks were going through that seven losses in nine games stretch. It is frustrating for the future but Teague hasn't shown consistency enough to argue for minutes in my opinion. However, the other side of the coin is that you can't be consistent if you aren't getting consistent minutes.
Are you pleased with what you have seen from the Hawks a quarter of the way into the season?