Rick Sund stated his thoughts on the Atlanta Hawks this season in Michael Cunningham’s blog at the AJC.
“When we hit on all cylinders, we can really play well,” he said. “We are shooting the ball pretty good, obviously. We’ve either led the league or are second in field-goal percentage the whole season.
“When we pick up our defense, that is probably one of our biggest keys. When we play with energy, it helps our defense. I think Larry has done a really good job of getting them ready. Most importantly, I keep my fingers crossed we stay injury free. That is a big key for teams.”
I agree with Rick in the sense that defense is probably one of our biggest keys. However, I do not feel there is a probably about it. Defense is the biggest key in the long run. Where I disagree with Rick is two fold. First, he shows me that he’s not a stats savvy person despite the fact that Seattle utilized advanced stats during his tenure there when he cites FG% as a measure of how good the offense is doing. Rather than leading the league in field goal percentage, I’d rather lead the league in eFG%, points per posession, and free throw attempts. Despite being among the top relative to FG%, the Hawks are still 15th in the league in points scored per game.
Second, much like Larry Drew has done, Rick gives a hint that they feel defense is effort driven and not talent driven. I will give them that players have to be willing and give an effort to play defense, but defense is not an effort driven component. I believe that the Hawks feel that all they have to do to get good defense is give good effort. Effort isn’t going to make Mike Bibby guard opposing point guards better though, and effort isn’t going to make Joe Johnson a good defender when he is asked to guard the opposition’s best offensive player. I feel the Hawks need to make moves this season to shore up their perimeter defense especially, but I get the feeling that Rick Sund doesn’t see it the same way. With that, I feel that it is unlikely the Hawks will make a move to improve their perimeter defense. They ignored it all offseason, so I doubt they address it now when teams know exactly what we need.