Does Atlanta Hawks Blistering Offensive Pace Bode Well for Future?

Lloyd Pierce of the Atlanta Hawks Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Lloyd Pierce of the Atlanta Hawks Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

A quick look at the insanely fast pace the Atlanta Hawks played last season and what it might mean for the future.

Under first-year head coach Lloyd Pierce with a team that is getting closer to General Manager Travis Schlenk’s platonic ideal, it seems, the 2018-19 Atlanta Hawks played at a wildly fast pace. No matter what site you look at, the Hawks were number one in pace by a fairly sizable margin.

Per Basketball Reference, the Hawks 103.9 pace was tops in the league. At Team Rankings, the Atlanta Hawks produced 108.3 possessions per game, which was 1.4 more than the next-closest team (the Oklahoma City Thunder). Inpredictable also has the Hawks with a total of 8,673 possessions for the season. Once again, the next-closest team was the Thunder at 8,599.

However, did all that speed and a modern offensive shooting profile of threes and layups lead to good offense? Sadly, the answer to that is no.

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Despite producing the fourth-lowest percent of plays in the halfcourt of any team in the NBA at 77 percent, the team’s points per play in transition were only 117.6 per 100 possession, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Though the Atlanta Hawks were sixth in transition frequency in the NBA at 17.5 percent and third in transition frequency off steals at 71.3 percent, the Hawks were dead last in points added per 100 possessions in transition and points per play per 100 possessions, once again from Cleaning the Glass.

Surely, with a terrific tandem of Trae Young and John Collins hoofing it up and down the court in transition, you would think the Atlanta Hawks would have slightly better efficiency than they ended up with.

Perhaps with the addition of superior talent next season the team will be able to boost its offensive profile due to the enthusiastic focus on pace and speed of play that Lloyd Pierce influenced during his strong first year.

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Either way, there’s no question that the team’s striking pace didn’t lead to efficient offense this year. But as this young team grows and develops, one would expect their offensive numbers to improve in transition – meaning that the team’s pace will pay off down the line.