Joe Don't Lie. Hawks Love to Take Jumpshots.

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The Hawks' game plan.....ssshhhh.....don't tell anyone.

As most Hawks fans have heard or seen, Joe Johnson told the AJC’s Michael Cunningham that the Hawks are a jumpshooting team. To be more specific, here’s what he said:

you look at a jump-shooting team–we are a jump-shooting team. If shots are falling then, great, we are rolling. But one through five, we all are jump shooters. That’s pretty much what it is. Like I said, if we are making shots then we are probably unstoppable. But when we are not making shots those are the games we have to grind out.

What Joe meant by that is to your decision. I interpreted it as Joe saying that all players in the starting 5 like to shoot the basketball. I don’t necessarily think Joe meant that they are good jump shooters but that everyone prefers to shoot jumpers instead of attacking the basket. Still, what Joe said was still concerning. Concerning but true.

If you look at the Hawks’ roster, there are few players who don’t take the majority of their field goal attempts on jump shots. According to 82 games.com, most of the players are jumpshooters. These are the percentages of the Hawks starters’ shot attempts that were jumpshots this season:

  • Kirk Hinrich: 90% (small sampling though, hasn’t played many games in a Hawks uni)
  • Joe Johnson: 80%
  • Marvin Williams: 70%
  • Josh Smith: 64%
  • Al Horford: 66%

Fact of the matter is, they do prefer their jumpshots. Who’s to blame is the question. The players or the coaches? I’m leaning towards the coaches. I just don’t think the so called motion offense is helping this Hawks team. Before the season, I was ecstatic to hear the no more iso-Joe and more ball movement offense Larry Drew was cooking up. I figured that it would help them in the long run, in the playoffs in particular, as they won’t be predictable. However, the predictability is starting to come back. Every scouting report knows (or at least should know) that the Hawks don’t go inside and they like to settle for a wide open jumper. Come playoff time, that will hurt the Hawks. Teams that are well-balanced in their point of attack are more likely to find success than teams who prefer to do one particular thing.  Who remembers a jump shooting team that had success in the playoffs? The Orlando Magic had some success with it in recent years, but they also have the biggest inside presence in today’s game and a lot better shooters. The Phoenix Suns found some success too, but they also had Amare who did attack the rim pretty occasionally and a great playmaker in Steve Nash who got them good looks.

But it’s just not the starters that shoot jumpers. Even the bench players of the Hawks do. According to 82games.com, here were the percentages of the Hawks’ bench shot attempts that were jumpshots this season:

  • Jamal Crawford: 85%
  • Jeff Teague: 67%
  • Damien Wilkins: 53%
  • Josh Powell: 69%
  • Jason Collins: 60%

Zaza Pachulia is the only one who takes the majority of his shots inside the paint (34%).

I blame the coaches for this because it’s the coaches job to put players in the right positions and the best position for them to score. Instead, this motion offense is making non-shooters jumpshooters and the good shooters more predictable. Everyone except Zaza Pachulia has increased the amount of jumpshots they take this season from last season. The ones that increased the most were Josh Smith and Al Horford. Josh Smith’s increased by 28%. Al Horford increased by 15%. I don’t have a problem with Al Horford shooting more jumpshots since he is effective at it and he does make a good number of them, but Josh Smith on the other hand, I have a problem with. Josh Smith’s eFG% on jumpshots is only .441 (higher than Joe Johnson actually) but he still takes jumper after jumper. Although Joe shoots worst statistically than Josh, I’m less hard-pressed about him because he’s a guard. Most guards in the league do take jumpers and Joe has shown in the past that he can do that. Josh on the other hand is a Power Forward. A Power Forward who is a lot more effective in the paint than the perimeter. There’s no reason why he should be in the perimeter just standing and waiting for the ball to take a jumpshot.

Basically, I don’t think what Joe said was wrong since it is true, but I do have a problem with it being true. Get it?

There’s reason to be concern about the Hawks’ game plan. The live or die by the jumpshot mentality they have….sorry about my language…sucks. I’m getting less and less confident by this Hawks team as we near the playoffs. The Hawks need to change their mindset and gameplan and make it more balanced/less predictable. It starts with the coach. It’s up to the players to execute it.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Joe Johnson Michael Cunningham

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