Want to thank everyone for all of the good questions we received in this week's mailbag. I couldn't get to them all but we will do this again soon I promise. Just a note, I received a couple of these on Sunday before Adreian Payne got a few minutes in Monday and Tuesday's games. Keep in mind some of these questions were submitted right before the Hawks began their current road trip.
Will Adreian Payne get more playing time this season?
I think Payne will probably continue to see sporadic playing time and will probably spend more time in the D-League this season. He's still adjusting to the speed of the game and learning the system. He's performed pretty well at the D-League level but it hasn't been flawless either. The Hawks have a good enough big rotation now that one or maybe two guys would have to go down with injury to elevate Payne into the rotation.
I wouldn't write him off but his situation is similar to that of Dennis Schroder's last season. Payne is probably facing a more crowded situation than the one Schroder faced last season.
I know we're bringing him along slowly, but wouldn't Payne benefit from the next couple games on the road vs. weak teams? I just see Brand on the floor and wonder why Payne can't take some of those minutes and get some burn in real (though easy) NBA situations?
Couple of things here. One, I think you vastly underestimate the value that Elton Brand brings to this team. No he's not played a lot but expect that to change in the second half and the closer they get to the playoffs. Sure I think Payne could benefit from getting a few minutes but the Hawks have the best record in the Eastern Conference for a reason. The front court rotation is solid and there isn't a lot of minutes to go around. I can make an even better argument that someone like Mike Muscala deserves minutes.
Payne is in a good situation. He's getting to work on his game without facing the pressure of having to produce. The Hawks will bring him along slowly and he could find himself with a much larger role next season.
It's obvious that Atlanta needs a big that can rebound and defend in the paint if they wish to compete with the Bulls, Raptors, or even the Wizards in the playoffs. Is there anything they can do to acquire one before the trading deadline?
Obvious to who? It certainly isn't obvious to me. The Hawks have the luxury of having Elton Brand sitting on their bench as a defensive big who can play key minutes, fit into their offense and provide defense and rebounding. Pero Antic is not just a jump shooting center. Defensive metrics show he is one of the team's best defenders. If you bring in another big then it would disrupt the rotation.
Atlanta could opt to go out and get a player but I don't really see it happening. I think they like their group and I think they value the chemistry they have built and view that as one of their biggest weapons. Atlanta is 3-0 this season against the Bulls and the Wizards. They get another crack at the Raptors this weekend.
Would Coach Budenholzer consider using the Popovich rest method for his starters if the Hawks continue to have these 4 games in 5 or 6 nights?
Yes and I think we will see it more during the second half of the season. More so if the Hawks continue to play well.
Do you feel this team has the right personnel to stand up to the ‘physical, grind it out in half-court sets' type of basketball typical of post season play to advance deep into the playoffs?
Good question. Teams are going to make adjustments when they face the Hawks in the playoffs. I expect to see more switching by opponents and forcing Atlanta into more one-on-one opportunities. I don't have a good answer for you. I thought this team would be good for sure but I never thought they would be 31-8. They have passed every single test thrown at them so far. It will be really interesting to see how far they can carry this current run.
Do you know what role Neven Spahija has had on the Hawks staff? Can the defensive turnaround be credited to any of the assistants in particular or is it a Bud thing?
Great question. I wish we knew more about the specific roles of the coaching staff. From what little I have heard, Spahija has fit in seamlessly into Atlanta's staff. I don't know that you can give credit to one individual for Atlanta's defensive improvement. I think it helps to have better defenders on the roster as the return of Al Horford and the addition of Thabo Sefolosha have been a tremendous help.
I also think the coaching staff as a group has done an excellent job of crafting a good defensive game plan and getting the players to buy in. I think the entire staff should likely share that credit.
Kyle Korver is having another epic year. He's even flirting with a 50 FG%, 50 3P%, and 95 FT% season, which has never been achieved in NBA history. Never! Yet, his player efficiency rating is only 15.5, only slightly better than the league average. Can you please explain why is PER is not higher considering he is having one of the best shooting seasons in league history?
Like a lot of statistics, PER is not without its flaws. After receiving this question I posted it to some of our other writers to see what their thoughts were. In short, PER rewards volume shooting more than efficiency. High usage players who accumulate a lot of stats tend to have higher PER ratings.
That is a short answer and it probably isn't even a good answer but that is the gist of it. There has been plenty of discussions and articles devoted to this subject.
This was fun and we will do it again sometime soon.