Josh Smith was great. The bench was not. Al Horford was surprisingly not.The Hawks won. They were expected to win. This is one of eighty two games that will go into the Hawks record. Can I add more analysis? Probably, but it is going to be the same thing I wrote for some other game with different words. If you were coming here today expecting a recap to end all recaps, I apologize. Not because I mean it, but just because I should have a recap up. Good news though, for an excellent recap full of quotes, go over to the Human Highlight Blog.
The bigger area for conversation this morning goes far beyond one victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and that is the Atlanta Hawks bench. Outside of slightly miraculous decision by both Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the Atlanta Spirit, the Hawks are who they are for the rest of the season. The time to complain about personnel is over. The time to problem solve has begun.
The days of bringing in the entire five man second unit are clearly gone. Granted, those days lasted about two weeks in November, but I am no longer clamoring for bench usage like I once was. Last nights' game one thing abundantly clear that was generously clear before, the Hawks just don't have great depth. It might be better than it has been at any time in the last decade, but that is like saying someone just experienced the best groin pull of their life. Neither is overly comforting.
Still, the Atlanta bench is far from useless, even outside Jamal Crawford (who any team in the league would want coming off their bench), Mo Evans can hit the three pointer, run the floor, and play adequate defense. Zaza and Joe Smith are well above average offensive rebounders. Jeff Teague plays decent on the ball defense against point guards and can get in the lane at will and push the pace even if he doesn't know what to do after that initial skill is complete. The Hawks have decent pieces, just put together as a five man unit they are decidedly average and seem to work together to be decidedly bad.
The bigger question going forward is not whether Mike Woodson should use at least an eight man bench. He should. He has to. Night in and night games where starters push 40 minutes will not end well. No, the bigger question is how to combine the bench pieces with the starters. What are the best lineups to maximize the skills and minimize the weaknesses?
Should Marvin play more with second unit players? Should Jamal and Bibby play at the same time? What bench front court player pairs best with Al or Josh? Maybe let Joe Johnson run the Joe show with the four best rebounders on the team? Which starters would benefit most from Teague and would those same people be the best at hiding his rookie deficiencies? Lots of questions. Lots of combination. So what say you? What are some different lineups you would like to see out on the floor? Mario West and Jason Collins are certainly allowed, but tread carefully to avoid mockery. Actually, Jason Collins is not allowed.
Want to actually use stats? Go to Basketball Values. Good stuff. (HT Bronn)