The Atlanta Hawks underwent a major makeover this summer overall as a team with the hiring of a new head coach and by drafting top-end prospect Trae Young. Atlanta also moved out long-term starting point guard Dennis Schroder and brought in the veteran presence of Jeremy Lin to help mentor Young.
The organization did not suddenly become world beaters with these moves, but at the very least, Atlanta continued to set the foundation for the future. However, there is reason to believe that the improvements at the point guard position could be felt right away with the addition of two good offensive talents. So, let’s take a deeper look at how the efficiency and production could see a big boost from last season at the lead guard spot.
First, we need to recognize what Schroder, Malcolm Delaney and Isaiah Taylor brought to the table last season as they were the players that saw the most number of impactful minutes at point guard for the Hawks. Schroder was a slightly positive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) player according to FiveThirtyEight.com at 0.3 WAR on the year. Backup point Malcolm Delaney was a worse player by this metric with a -0.6 WAR, but the worst results come from third string point Isaiah Taylor who posted a -0.9 WAR over 67 games while getting meaningful minutes which isn’t good at all.
None of these point guards will be returning to Atlanta after Schroder was traded, Delaney signed overseas in China and Taylor signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week. However, according to these WAR numbers, the Hawks aren’t actually losing much production that can’t be replaced with just some average guard play. Other advanced metrics are even more harsh towards the former Hawks trio like VORP (value over replacement player), DBPM (defensive box plus/minus), PER (player efficiency rating) and true shooting percentage numbers.
As Taylor ranked worst among WAR numbers between the trio last season at the point, he also ranks the worst of the trio with a VORP of -1.0, a DBPM of -2.5, a PER of 10.9 and a true shooting percentage of just .492%. All well below average and well below replacement level. Delaney wasn’t much better with a -0.4 VORP, a -1.5 DBPM, a 10.6 PER and a true shooting percentage of .519%. Schroder, despite having the highest WAR of the trio last season, did post any eye-popping numbers either with a 0.7 VORP, a -2.2 DBPM, a 17.3 PER and a .515% true shooting percentage.
In a nutshell, Atlanta’s point guard core was not anything above average last season despite some flashy point totals from Schroder. So it begs the question, what kind of improvements did Atlanta make this offseason by going and getting the proven Jeremy Lin and the rising star in Trae Young?
Going back to WAR projections for next season, the Hawks at least can lean on the fact that both Lin and Young are projected to be positive assets, even if not huge ones (0.3 combined WAR). Things get even better in projections of advanced metrics as Lin’s history would lead you to believe he is at least capable of reproducing the value Schroder brought to the offense.
Lin has always placed solidly in VORP rankings and was on track for his best season ever in 2016-17 before his season was shortened by injury as he posted 0.9 VORP in just 36 games. Last season, Lin wasn’t able to play again due to injuries but remembering that Schroder only produced 0.7 VORP in his “good” season (I wouldn’t call it that) last year would lead you to believe that Lin is capable of at least 0.7 VORP when healthy.
Trae Young is the wild card as we have no NBA data to draw conclusions and projections from yet. Young’s stats at Oklahoma last season were indicative of a 10 WAR/7 VORP player, but we all know those numbers won’t translate to the NBA. At least not at first. The Hawks surely are banking on Young being at least a league average player in his first season at the point and almost assuredly will pass most of the starts to him to help further his development.
So, to recap, advanced metrics lead us to believe that the Hawks have already recaptured Schroder’s production from last season with the addition of Lin, who is a comparable player offensively, and whatever Trae Young brings to the table is purely additional production from what we saw last season out of Taylor and Delaney. Regardless, the Hawks have upgraded the point guard position with a starting caliber player in Lin and with a youthful potential star talent in Trae Young.
The basketball only gets easier to watch from here folks. Stay tuned.