|Jan 20, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) speaks with Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer during the first quarter of the game at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports|
Thabo Sefolosha’s third season with the Atlanta Hawks was a bit of rollercoaster. Entering the year, Thabo’s role is solely to defend some of the opposing wing players around the league, including guys such Jimmy Butler and Lebron James and he’s been stellar in his years in Oklahoma City and now in Atlanta. However, this season, Sefolosha earned a role in the starting unit, similar to how Scott Brooks did during his tenure in Oklahoma City. Due to the inconsistencies of Kent Bazemore, who would lose his starting role to Thabo Sefolosha then eventually Tim Hardaway Jr. as we never saw Bazemore settle into a rhythm. Unfortunately, his second shot in the NBA as a starter was minimal due to a season full of injuries. After getting a few days off late in November due to a lower groin injury, he was entered into the starting lineup as the Small Forward. Thabo remained there for nearly two months until he missed a significant amount of time due to a reoccurring groin injury.
During his two months in the starting lineup, Thabo and the Hawks were pretty successful. The 10 year veteran averaged (8) points per game, shot (44%) from the field and (35%) from behind the arc, a block per game, and (1.7) steals per game. His biggest impact to the Hawks was his stellar defense. Now the average fan of the stat geeks would look at his numbers and ask “Where’s his stellar production?” Prior to his tenure in the starting lineup, the Hawks lost 9 of their 10 previous games. After Thabo entered the lineup, the Hawks posted a 17-10 record before he would return to the injury report. When Sefolosha received a bigger role in Coach Bud’s gameplan, the Hawks responded by winning games… Conincidence? I think not!
Although Sefolosha would eventually return to the starting lineup, his impact wasn’t the same. As the playoffs approach, minutes began to decline and due to his absence, the Hawks would eventually give Taurean Prince, the rookie small forward, an opportunity to earn starting minutes However, it’s no secret that a large reason why Atlanta finished as the third best defense in the NBA was because of Sefolosha’s impact. He’s an elite defender and a leader on the Hawks roster. He’s the type of teammate that anybody would want, you never see him giving anything less than 100%. Unfortunately, the Hawks only played Sefolosha for a disappointing 10 minutes during their First Round series loss against the Wizards.
It’s difficult to understand what was going on with his situation, many speculated that he was still injured. However, sources close to the situation cited dissension in the locker-room between himself and the coaching staff in regards to “favoritism” and “lack of accountability”. At the end of the day, if the Hawks will look to continue their success and aim for an unprecedented 11th consecutive playoff appearance, Thabo Sefolosha must have a role on the Hawks roster whether he’s continuing his role as a top notch defender or a mentoring the youth on the roster, we need him!
Michael Thomas: @ChosenOne_MT10
Michael Thomas: @ChosenOne_MT10