After starting 9-2 and at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Hawks have seemed to hit a brick wall this past week. They’ve lost four out of their last five games and they are showing flaws in all aspects of the game.
Individually, some players are just not playing up to their normal standards. Dennis has had a rough start to the season. He still looks like he can’t control himself when driving to the basket and his inadvertent lobs to Dwight Howard are just causing the turnovers to pile up. Kent Bazemore is having an up and down season as well. He started the season off slow, got in a groove for a couple of games, and now he’s back to his inconsistent ways. Kyle and Dwight haven’t been bad, but they could be better. As it’s always been, Paul Millsap is the lone star for this team.
This offense is not generating the same success it usually does. There have been too many PNRs that don’t result in anything, too much passing, and there’s too much iso ball at times. When the Hawks run their set and aren’t getting anything out of it, passing the ball to Paul Millsap is their last resort. Not to say that’s a bad option to use; but giving him the ball with 10 seconds left on the shot clock just isn’t good offense. I could go out on a limb and say the second unit is outplaying the starters so far this season which also isn’t a bad thing, but the starting unit must step up and give a consistent effort on a nightly basis. Overall, the Hawks as a unit need to control the ball much better than we’ve seen this season. Atlanta’s turnover ratio is too high and it’s resulting in points for their opponents every time.
Although the Hawks are ranked in the Top 5 defensively, there are too many times where assignments are being blown and shooters are left wide open. Individually, each player on the team is at least above average defensively, but as a unit, they aren’t getting the job done. In the past 3 losses, some player(s) on the opposing team have found a way to get open all game. In the Knicks game, Carmelo Anthony and Courtney Lee had open shots all game. In the Pelicans game, Tim Frazier and Solomon Hill had great nights beyond the arc. The Jazz game was arguably the worst defensive game of the season, and as a fan watching the contest, you would have felt like every player found a way to get open. When the offense isn’t clicking, the Hawks usually turn to their defense to win games, but neither of those things are clicking for them which is a huge reason the Hawks have struggled.
Despite all of the struggles and inconsistencies with the Hawks, one of the notable things is the play of Taurean Prince. The rookie has earned his way into the regular rotation and is looking great on both sides of the ball. His three point shooting is consistent and he’s a pesky defender that can get in the opposition’s face. Another player worth noting is Malcolm Delaney. He comes in for Dennis and is a great go to scorer when the second unit needs a basket.
At the end of the day, it’s still the beginning of the season and this team is still trying to figure each other out with the new additions. The only reason we shouldn’t let that go over our heads is because of the level of competition the Hawks have lost to lately, and it’s unacceptable. They need to get it together now so they can be prepared for the rest of the season.
Malik Brown (@Retro_Boy_)