Monday, June 26, 2006

Brief Hawks Thoughts

Given my conclusion, based on some elementary statistical analysis and a whole lot of subjective observation from section 317, that the Hawks' primary problem last year was not their poor point guard play, but rather an inability to play defense, especially in the form of allowing other teams to get to the rim too easily, I'd be quite happy with Shelden Williams in a Hawks uniform. The AJC lists five prospects for the pick and I can say pretty confidently that: (1) Billy Knight isn't going to take Brandon Roy or Marcus Williams (unless some team wows them with a trade such that it makes sense for the Hawks to move down to about #10 to take Marcus Williams); and (2) Andrea Bargnani and LaMarcus Aldridge aren't going to be around when the Hawks take their turn at #5. Williams might be a similar size to a number of different players on the team, but he plays differently than any of them. He would combine rebounding and shotblocking better than anyone else on the roster and the team would likely have fewer disastrous defensive performances in the fourth quarters of games. He's not Elton Brand, which is a facile comparison based on the fact that Brand and Williams are both African-American big men from Duke. Brand had a better offensive game at Duke, so it's not fair to assume that Williams can turn into a 25-point per game guy, but he'll improve the team defensively.

Mark Bradley disagrees and I normally trust his judgment on basketball, but he doesn't spend much time explaining why Williams won't be successful, other than that he needs to develop a face-up game to be a power forward. That seems like a pretty legitimate question, but are there really any better options? Marcus Williams is good, but not outstanding point guard for a team that badly underachieved last year and he comes with the baggage of having stolen laptops at UConn, so do we really want to take a chance on how he'll react to being a multi-millionaire? LaMarcus Aldridge was last seen getting totally dominated by Big Baby Davis in the Georgia Dome. (In contrast, Williams kept Duke in the game against LSU with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks.) Andrea Bargnani does in fact play the same 2/3 position that the Hawks currently have stacked, as do Adam Morrison and Rudy Gay. Tyrus Thomas seems like a carbon-copy of Josh Smith (minus two years of development in perimeter skills). Williams will definitely serve an important role and if he turns out to be another Udonis Haslem, there are worse fates in basketball than that.

5 comments:

Fox said...

It's a sad, sad day when a team is looking for the next Haslem at # 5. But I think that may be about right for Shelden--he's undersized to play the 5 and not skilled enough to be a legit 4 so all he will add is D and rebounding. Of course the Hawks don't have anyone who does either right now so maybe that's OK. After all, if Joe Johnson and Marvin can't carry the scoring load, the Hawks are hosed anyway.

LD said...

This whole draft stinks for the Hawks. Their pick here isn't high enough to have an impact next year, meaning they'll be trolling in the lottery next year (possibly a top 3 pick), when they have to pass that pick along to Phoenix.

At #5, I'm almost thinking just take the best player available, even if it's Gay or Roy, and maybe work a deal in the next few weeks along with Harrington. Maybe the Hawks can get back next year's lottery pick.

I wouldn't be mad with a trade down to Houston's 8th pick like Chad Ford seems to think is in the works (Hawks pick up Luther Head).

Joel said...

Isn't Bargiani more of a 3/4 in the Dirk/Darko (body type, interior ability, talent notwithstanding obviously) mold than a 2/3 swingman? I am only going on scouting reports and youtube clips, but Bargiani doesn't seem like he would be too bad a fit with the current squad.

Anyways, I'd much rather get Williams/Aldridge. If Aldridge is not available at the #5, I'd like to see the Hawks trade down a couple of spots to get Williams. I can't see any other team in the Top 7-8 taking him. While certainly more raw than Williams, Aldridge has a more prototypical NBA PF/C body and some really intriguing defensive ability (more talent on the offensive end as well). I don't like basing a draft pick on how they played their last game of the tournament, much like a CFB player being based on a poor BCS bowl.

So basically, my hopes for the Hawks are 1) Aldridge 2) Williams 3) Bargiani.

It’s way too early for Marcus Williams (or any PG for that matter) and I think any of the above 3 would bring more needs to the team than Roy, Gay or Morrison, all of whom I like. I can’t help but think BK is sending smoke signals with all this Shelden talk…I guess we will see Wednesday.

Michael said...

Fox, now that I think about it, Haslem doesn't have Williams' defensive ability, so getting Shelden would be an improvement over Haslem.

LD, the pick next year is top three protected, so we don't have to worry about losing out on a chance to draft Greg Oden. My worry is that we're going to be somewhat better next year and thus stuck in between being bad enough to be in the top three and good enough to make the playoffs. In terms of drafting strategy, the Hawks are far enough along in rebuilding that they've spent several drafts taking the best available player and now need to fill in the roster. Roy would be OK if they can fit him into a backcourt with Johnson, but their main issue is defense and Williams solves that need better. Trading down a few spots and getting Luther Head (a better version of Royal Ivey) would be ideal.

Joel, from what I've heard, Bargnani plays like a classic small forward, which would be redundant with what's already on the roster. The Hawks need a big man who plays like a big man. If they have a choice between Aldridge and Williams, I'm not sure which direction works for them. I agree that judging a player based on their last game is foolish, but Texas-LSU game was somewhat indicative of a larger trend, which was Aldridge disappearing from games. (He scored in single digits in nine of his last 23 games in college.) He's more athletic than Williams and has a more varied offensive game, but he's not as good at banging or blocking shots.

Fox said...

After reading your latest post, I like the Dale Davis comparison the best. Yes, Shelden is a better shot-blocker than either of the Davises but he's destined to be an undersized power forward/center who gets out-quicked by the new-wave PFs and can't handle the 2 or 3 real centers in the league. But considering how iffy this draft is, Atlanta could do worse. Hell, Dale Davis was once good enough to be traded for Jermaine O'Neil.