We already knew the Atlanta Hawks are a good team. Now stats are finally proving their excellence.
In a recent article on ESPN.com, Bradford Doolittle researched the WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) of all playoff contenders in the NBA — the Hawks rank #4 on that list.
“Teams are ranked by the difference in minutes-weighted WARP between the team’s end-of-season rotation and the revised figure based on the playoff rotation.”
Here’s Doolittle’s take on the Hawks:
4. Atlanta Hawks | (plus-1.62 WARP)
Last season, Larry Drew’s playoff configuration was muddled by injuries. This time around, you can count on heavy minutes from Drew’s big three of Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague. The rest of the roster is complementary enough that Drew might still mix in nine or 10 players, depending on situations and matchups, especially with Zaza Pachulia done for the season.
The main take-away from a WARP rating is that it shows the value of players that can play heavy minutes and avoid injury while continuing to perform above replacement level. This just means Atlanta stands to benefit in the post-season when player rotations become shortened.
The Hawks’ core group has played well enough to gain 1.62 wins more than replacement players. Considering that rating is only behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (+1.74), Los Angeles Clippers (+1.91), and Miami Heat (+2.67), this list shows the peak performance level of the Hawks starting five.
Looking at the main starting five for the Hawks (Teague, Harris, Korver, Smith, Horford) on nbawowy.com provides some interesting information. While we know this lineup provides excellent three-point shooting at times (Looking at you, Smoove), I never realized how often these guys chuck it (in terms of statistics). 53.9% of Devin Harris’ shots in this set are three-pointers. He’s making 43.8% of them, which is good for 5th in the league (if he shot that percentage in all lineups). Using this same filter, I can see what Josh Smith likes to shoot in this lineup. You’ll never guess it. C’mon guess! A mid-range jumper… That middy accounts for 33.1% of his shot attempts in this lineup. He actually has made 41.7% of them, which isn’t bad, but… Let’s see what Jimmy Rollins says:
That’s right. It’s not good.
While this team has proven that it is solid (using WARP), they still have to play the game. With the playoffs coming up, the Hawks will look to finish out these last few games strong and march into the playoffs with a winning attitude. At least that’s what we should want them to do.