StatsCube: The Demise of the Hawks

One of this season’s lingering questions was brought to the surface again on Friday. And that question is: What the heck has happened to the Atlanta Hawks?

In the wake of getting drubbed by the Miami Heat, the Hawks stand at 39-30. On first glance, they’re pretty firmly entrenched in fifth place in the East, four games in the loss column behind the Orlando Magic and three games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers. But the way they Hawks are playing, nothing but a quick first-round exit is guaranteed.

The Hawks are nine games over .500, but they’ve outscored their opponents by only three points this season, because Friday was not the first time they’ve been blown out. Six times they’ve lost by more than 20 points.

When Larry Drew took over for the fired Mike Woodson last summer, he promised to bring more ball movement to the Hawks’ offense. That sounded great to those that grew tired of Iso-Joe, but some wondered why Drew would mess with a good thing. The Hawks ranked third in the league offensively last season, scoring an efficient 108.9 points per 100 possessions. Iso-Joe may have looked ugly at times, and Atlanta may have ranked 16th in assist rate. But overall, Woodson’s offense worked for the Hawks.

Well, it looks now like Drew made a mistake. The Hawks rank 21st in the league offensively this season, scoring just 103.2 points per 100 possessions. They have Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford, and they’ve been worse offensively than the Pistons (103.9, 18th) and Raptors (103.5, 20th). They’re assisting on a higher percentage of their shots (ranking fourth in assist rate), but that doesn’t mean anything when they’re not getting as many shots at the basket.

The only two teams that have regressed more offensively from last season are the Cavs and Suns, who each lost an All-Star to free agency.

Most regressed, offensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions)

Team 2009-10 Rank 2010-11 Rank Diff.
Cleveland 108.8 4 98.6 29 -10.2
Phoenix 112.7 1 106.9 9 -5.8
Atlanta 108.9 3 103.2 21 -5.7
Toronto 108.6 6 103.5 20 -5.2
Orlando 109.5 2 105.8 10 -3.6

The Hawks aren’t shooting much worse than they were last season, but they’re grabbing far less offensive boards, turning the ball over more often, and getting to the line less.

Atlanta offensive comparison

Season EFG% Rank OReb% Rank TORatio Rank FTA Rate Rank
2009-10 50.6% 11 28.2% 5 9.4 1 .281 24
2010-11 50.1% 12 23.9% 26 11.1 16 .263 29

EFG% = (FGM + (0.5*3PM))/FGA
OReb% = Off. Reb./(Off. Reb. + Opp. Def. Reb.)
TORatio = Turnovers per 100 possessions

And things have become worse for the Hawks since the All-Star break. They’re 5-9 with the third worst offense in the league in that time (only Charlotte and Washington have been worse), scoring a miserable 98.1 points per 100 possessions.

It’s not time for complete panic in Atlanta, because all nine of those losses have come against teams with winning records: L.A. Lakers (2), Phoenix, Denver (2), Oklahoma City, New York, Chicago and Miami. And three of the five wins (two against Portland and one against the Bulls) can be considered quality.

Still, with how anemic their offense has been, it’s hard to believe the Hawks can win more than a game or two in the playoffs, especially if they slip to the sixth or seventh spot in the East and face one of the conference’s big three in the first round.


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.


  1. LEE says:

    Why do people question Chicago,? what have they done without Rose? Rose is the one key to that teams unlocked potential. Without him they aren’t half what Utah is now. If anything happens to him during the playoffs, the Bulls can kiss their chances of winning good bye.

    Atlanta giving that $120mil deal is beyond stupid, they will be stuck for years to come.

    Knicks getting past the first round? Who knows, this team is about as consistent now as it was before the trade. If Billups gets injured again I think Douglas will be forced to prove himself and if he doesn’t I think they’ll both go bye bye for CP3 Next year, otherwise someones gotta go to create cap for DH12. Worse case scenario? Knicks try to get Marc Gasol next year to fill that void in the line-up.

    Miami? no matter what everyone thinks, come playoff time these guys are gonna play 200% to prove their cocky predictions hold merit.

    Lakers and Phil getting preffered treatment? wait to see how games are called during the Semi and Division Finals in the playoffs and you’ll be able to see who the Finals will look like.

    Boston is getting old, how many MORE years do you think Shaq, Jermaine, Garnett, and Pierce have? Allen is healthy as anybody else in the league but the others have had alloootttt of injuries in the past. they wont be bouncing back as quickly during the playoffs.

  2. JayHouston says:

    Lmao, somebody just slipped in there “Kobe is the best.”

    I think Joe Johnson might be feeling the pressure of his huge contract. Like RJefferson with the Spurs.
    A bad move is the contract is too high to even trade him for any kind of upgrade.

  3. BigCam77 says:

    first im from atlanta. an for years when i was a kid. i knew the hawks suck. but when the drafted al horford an took the celtics to seven games who eventully won the whole thing. made me realize that the hawks are a team to watch for. joe johnson is not the team leader u think. josh smith, al horford an jamal crawford are the best on the team. mike biddy was getting old. but kirk henrick. wth is he. mavin williams is good but he need to step up his game. give jeff teagua more mins an trade for a good big center. al horford is a forward. have mavin come off the bench. get rid of joe,kirk an the coach. i was too mad that they fire mike woodsen. he turn that whole team around. just cause yall didnt make it past second round. doesnt mean to fire your coach. have a team that can bring atlanta a title. joe bye bye be gone bye bye. larry drew bye bye be gone bye bye. kirk be gone bye bye be gone bye bye. bring in howard an trade joe, kirk an a seond round pick i nthe next three years

  4. Jao says:

    The East got stronger at the top half. that dropped Magic and Atlanta who just stayed the same or just made lateral moves. the worst decision Atlanta ever made was tying up all their money on Joe Johnson. they needed a PG more than they needed Joe Johnson. and if you’re going to fire a coach that has brought you success but just couldn’t get you over the hump, then you better find a coach who is decidedly better than the one you’re firing and who has experience winning. you can’t fire your coach and then replace him with someone inexperienced on the same level. the only player i feel sorry for in that team is Al Horford. because he is clearly the best player on that team. he should just leave that team when he can as the team is just wasting his best years. kind of how Cavs wasted 7 years of Lebron’s career. nothing infuriates me more than bad management of teams who have great players. if a team has great talent, then you have to look further for the blame. in an organization, responsibility always falls to the top. so you have to look at the coach, the GM, and the owner. if the teams has great talent yet is not performing at their level, maybe those guys are the ones that need to be fired.

  5. watcher says:

    Agree with the above re: the coach. Big mistake (and poorly executed) getting rid of Woodson. I mean they hired Woodson to be the face of a 12 win team, then thought they’d upgrade after a couple of early exits (one of them a 7 gamer with the eventual champion Celtics) with Larry Drew? Smells like Richie Adubato – great as a whisperer, not so good as the designated yeller. This team is built like Portland anyway. Simply not enough (especially as far as variety goes) to get them over the hump.

  6. Wolves says:

    Smith and Horford (and maybe Marv if he can stay healthy) are the future of this franchise. Joe will soon take his talents somewhere as well. I get told that Hawks should trade Horford for Bynum! NOOOO! For one, Horford has much better mid ranged game, he can play the 1 pos. the 2 pos. and even the 3. if he gets matched up against lets say a Rashard Lewis. Bynum is just a cheapo who doesn’t beat his foes with his skill but with his body (did you see his body slam on Michael Beasley today? And if I recall correctly, he wasn’t given any form of a flagrant foul! Shows what a joke the refs have become).

  7. Mike says:

    Yeah Larry Drew is the real problem in here. Woodson was even better. And one more thing i would like to question is that they love Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson so much that they won’t give em up till they’re 35. WTH. Joe Johnson got a max contract. I mean, signing Iverson would be better (although not for the long run) All i can say is get rid Marvin and get rid of Joe, (although that’s a really hard thing to do)

  8. GuyHawk13 says:

    The Hawks are often discussed in the east, year after year, as a contender. really they are not that much better than the Grizzlies (the other team in the south) if your looking for a western conference peer. I mean are their starters are good but they are not an incredible line-up they are just good. their backup lineup doesnt have nearly whatit takes to compliment the starters (who often dont have what it takes to compete with the other teams performance) I hear you they are really conservative and it doesnt feel like the franchise is really interested in creating or being that next level team. they pretty much just want to capitalize on the success they had 2 or 3 years ago.

  9. Najeh Davenpoop says:

    And it hasn’t helped that the Hawks have missed a lot more games to injury this season, and Joe Johnson has regressed even when healthy.

  10. Najeh Davenpoop says:

    The increased ball movement is clearly evident. Iso-Joe failed miserably against good defenses last year, and it failed even more miserably in the playoffs when teams had several games to find ways to counter that simplistic scheme. The problem with Drew’s offense is that as the season has gone along, all the ball movement has resulted in jump shots rather than shots near the basket, and the Hawks are only an average jump shooting team. It hasn’t helped that Drew hasn’t been able to get the Hawks’ offense to go through the post, especially through Josh Smith, despite the increased ball movement.

    Drew’s substitution patterns are a bigger culprit than his offensive scheme, though, when it comes to the Hawks’ problems. His insistence on playing Jamal Crawford at point guard and his reluctance until Bibby was traded to play Jeff Teague have directly resulted in at least a handful of losses this season, including the loss to the Bulls last week and the loss to the Heat yesterday. Whenever Crawford plays the point, the ball stays on the perimeter, ball movement stops, the Hawks become even more jumper-happy than usual, and Crawford’s terrible defense at the point means any quality opposing point guard is about to shred the Hawks any time Crawford checks in at point guard.

  11. RangerJones says:

    First lets address the # 1 issue the hawks have which is horrible owner ship. The owners cheap out on everything and it shows . The # 2 issue is coaching, when the team looks like world beaters one night and get blown out the next it has to be
    bad coaching due to the lack of consistency. As far as the fans they root for the other team because they know the hawks are going nowhere due to ownerships refusal to pay for a championship caliber team.

  12. hawks' fan says:

    fire Drew~!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Blablaheatfansblowme says:

    Hawks dont have a good coach they need a all around coach because their team has it all it can be a defensive minded team or an offensive minded like the knicks or the suns used to be, they just need to replace that coach because i can promise you that, he aint gonna get you to the conference finals in the next 6 years. And thats the place the Hawks could aim for if they had a good coach.

  14. atlantalover says:

    Not only have the Hawks lost there offense, but if Lebron drops 43 on you in just 3 quarters, that can’t be a good sign.

  15. June says:

    The Hawks are playing not to get hurt b4 the playoffs …last year Marvin Williams ,Joe and Al were all hurt during round 2 and it hindered their ability to match up against the Magic…They already know they are playing the Magic are are trying different line ups right now and I think it’s good for the team in the long run….Patience is needed in Atlanta remember point Guard is the most important position and Capt Kirk is still learning where people like 2 receive the ball….By game one of the playoffs they’ll be ready watch

  16. WHAT says:

    Funny, I talked about this the other day. Hawks don’t Suck they just don’t play to their full potential. Jamal Crawford is a great player and probably the best on the team in my opinion being that Joe Johnson isn’t at all consistent. I would of traded Joe Johnson by now. And it’s also obvious that he does not want to be on the team. He was looking to get traded lst season from my understanding, but no team wanted to pay him the extra money because he’s simply not worth it. Now he signed an extension with atl for 100 mil thats just all for the money there because he knows atl isn’t even making it to the Eastern conference which is sad not only for him but for the franchise. And lets be real they barely made it past the bucks last season to advance and get swept by the magic which will happen again this playoff season. What really sucks for atl though is their lack of heart and bandwagon fans. They’ve allowed teams to come on Their court and take their pride and their fans are their the whole time cheering for the other teams like Lakers, Bulls, and Miami. I’d hate to be a player their myself if I heard fans cheering louder for the opposing team.

  17. JAMON J says:


  18. JayDaddy says:

    Also, Atlanta by all accounts has a better team this yr. The trade upgraded them. They should be giving Hilton Armstrong minutes at center w/ Z but aren’t. They have more quality depth at center this yr than any previously. They could do a much better job “center by committee” like many other great teams have done now that they have that depth. Hinrich is a huge upgrade from the tired half game play of Mike “no disrespect” just had seriously poor def. And Teague now has a chance to show what he can do. This team should be matching or better than previous yr records but is nothing close. And despite everyone’s blind praise of coach Drew upon hiring, it was atleast obvious to me that once again they skimped on coach. A team is only as good as it’s coach atlanta… maybe one day you’ll learn that you can’t hire high school coaches to take you to conference finals. Coach Drew’s interviews have a serious lack of emotion telling anyone who reads body language… he’s not mindfully invested in the success of this team. He looks like no just a man that could not discipline a professional sports team, but a man who couldn’t even say no about too much candy to his own kids. Donot dismantle this team before you’ve gotten a “real” coach w/ discipline to take the reins for a couple yrs!! Yes, we’ll win 1 game in rnd 1 this yr. We Atlanta fans are and should rightfully be ashamed, but nowhere nearly as much as the Hawks management should be for wasting some of the leagues best and limited time resources!!! WAKE UP HAWKS!

  19. JayDaddy says:

    blah, this has nothing to do w/ center as was proven last season. It’s all about identity. And I’ll take it one step further than that which the NBA commentators have been saying…. By identity, I mean they have no designated main player. Yeah, Joe might be stated as such, but he doesn’t step up to that role. Josh Smith thinks he is, but he’s %50 of Atlanta’s problem because as he plays, so does Atlanta. Al Horford should be 2nd option but isn’t. Larry Drew is a coach who is player puppet. The team needs a “real” coach that puts up w/ no nonsense or failure. This team needs to be held accountable now and has yet to be. Other teams have 1st and 2nd even 3rd options as should Atlanta, but they just do whatever on any night. That may sound good that they have so many weaps, but that also means too many chefs and not enough cooks. Josh needs to stop shooting beyond the foul line or be given only 3 perimeter shots a game and by no means should be shooting over 12x a game. Al needs more shots % rate proving that. Joe needs to step up and be the contract he is paid and if Joe doesn’t wanna be a vocal leader… fine, Horford should be as he’s the only one on that team that matters w/ proven winning in his blood.

  20. Gary says:

    This always happens in the NBA. Great team loses in the playoffs, the coach gets fired, the new coach screws things up, the owner starts trading, team drops out of the playoff conversation. Happened to Goldenstate a few years ago, before that is was New Jersey with Kidd, Carter and Jerrerson. If these teams would play three good seasons together you would have playoff contenders but no one is willing to wait the time it takes to forge a great team. Thus these kind of franchises will never see a title.

  21. lakers vs nets says:

    Atlanta looks more deadly on paper than teams like miami and chicago. I only say that because they have good players in every position and on the bench. BUT their not living to that expectation at the moment, blaming Joe Johnson or the coach isnt the solution clearly they wont get far this year so they need to make some trades this offseason. Starting with trading marvin Williams for someone like Andre Blatch from the Wizards. Rumour is he doesnt want to be in Washington, so they could play Blatch centre as his a legit 6’11 260 pounds that can shoot. And having Al horford at PF and Josh Smith at SF will help Blatchs defensive game to.
    This move would make them different which is needed as we can all see or they could trade for Rashard Lewis and play him SF at his original spot and sign a centre like the up and coming De’andre Jordan whose a athletic freak that can again relieve Al horford off the centre position and YES i know its costly but if the Hawks want to win big the so be it.. bottom line is they need to make changes because what they’ve got now isnt working nor will it work in the years to come. I’m an LA fan but i still respect the Hawks!

    • Gary says:

      Trade, trade, trade is not the answer. Well it wasn’t but now it is. They needed to keep the past coach and players that did so well last year and work on bettering their system. I think the 08 Celtics got everyone thinking that instant trades = championship.

      • Kingsfan says:

        I agree, trading wasnt the answer but now it is. With the team checmistry gone, may as well trade for better pieces. I would also look into a new coach as well.

  22. ddddd says:

    Bibby is another aging has-been who wants to latch on to the South Beach dream without doing anything for that South Beach dream, Granted, Bibby was awesome back in his Sac-Town days, but nowdays he is a backup veteran in the mold of Anthony Johnson.
    Kirk Hinrich is a victim of the circumstances in which he has played. His first Bulls teams sucked so bad that he had to play sg to maximize the talent that they did have so that the residents of Chicago did not riot from losing after taking so long to recover from the MJ days. Then the Bulls defied the odds, and with a statistical nothing chance were able to draft DRose…. which pushed Hinrich out of the pg spot even more despite his baloney “mentor” status. Granted DRose is skylights better than Hinrich and the Bulls did what any team would do in the calling of the guards, but it definitely put Hinrich’s career behind. When other teams tried to trade for Hinrich the Bulls said no until the magical summer of Lebron (this offseason)… Then when the Bulls finally did trade Hinrich, it was almost the same situation as Washington just drafted Wall… except that Washington has been rebuilding and were pretty much a guarantee to not even come close to the playoffs. Finally, Hinrich gets traded to Atlanta who has been so in need of a pg for so long that they don’t even remember what its like to have a pg…. and Hinrich has missed out on all this development time at pg due to being victim of circumstance that he is not going to push the Hawks anywhere near “championship status” like fans would hope.
    The thing about Atlanta is that they are just kind of there. They will win against your Washingtons of the league and occasionally squeak out a win against the league’s elite if they aren’t paying attention, but they won’t do anything else unless they make some drastic changes like getting a decent center so that Horford is not playing out of position the rest of his career. Allowing Joe Johnson to dominate the ball like he does also does nothing for developing pgs even if they were to draft well or trade well. The actual solution for Atlanta is to drop this kind of there status, trade off a few of their “key” pieces, and either rebuild through the draft or retool (retool simply means trading for pieces that fit together better than what they have now)…… Hell…. they could have righted a wrong from the past and traded for Deron Williams before New Jersey did. Granted the pieces wouldn’t have been as young… but I would think the pieces would have been young enough to entice Utah if they would have seriously tried to outbid New Jersey…. Now that would have done something for ATL and their kind of there status… But no…. the Hawks are way too conservative to even try to make a splash like that.. which just makes it better for the rest of the East.

  23. ezequiel says:

    kobe is the best

  24. Joaquin Miranda says:

    And they will not improve, paying Joe Jhonson a max deal for 19 points and 4 rebounds a game…. worst deal ever. I never thought Atlanta would be that good this season, unlike last one, where they abused the celtics everytime they met. They are not contenders, and wont be for a long time now, yea they can reach the playoffs, but last tiem I checked, that wasnt that big of a deal in the east anyways…

    • juice says:

      Yeah it’s kinda funny, their’s 3 teams in the West with records above .500 who wont make the playoffs this year. In the east, the 5,6 and 7 seeds as of now are just above .500 and the 8 seed is well below .500 and .435 with at record of 30 and 39 (Pacers).Even with the stars headed east, the west is still, by far the more dominant conference.

      • insideLA says:

        wow. great stat watching dude. congratulations. i haven’t notice that until you said so. 🙂

  25. GO ORLANDO says:


    • amen says:

      $100 mil what are you talikng about it was $120 for 6 years and youre right it was a horrible move

  26. Silver says:

    i dont understand why they are doing bad. with joe johnson, al horford, and jamal crawford, offensive shouldnt be too hard. j smooth brings mad energy also. another thing i dont get is that even with those players, when atlanta is playing at home, more people cheer for the road team than the hawks >_>

  27. Kingston says:

    I think they’re in this big slump because of the poor production of jamal crawford and joe johnson, they are not jusd constint compared to last year

    • Gary says:

      It’ the coaching

      • Kingsfan says:

        @ Gary- I agree 100%. Hawks have amazing talent. Solid stars, great role players and a pretty deep bench. So all that said why are they losing?!? Because of poor coaching and lack of Defense. This teams offenseive game thrives on pushing the ball in transition. That’s when Crawford/Johnson run the floor and bury jumpers. That’s when we see alley-ooops to Smith. Get better coaching and mess with the game time for players and Atlanta is ok imo.

  28. Mike says:

    The only stated to win a considerable amount of games when they picked up Mike Bibby, and the only started to lose a considerable amount of games until they traded Mike Bibby. worst trade for them, and now they wont even get out of the first round of the playoffs.

  29. miamifan says:


  30. loser city says:

    they highly lack a true center at middle, they are undersized with nearly every team.

  31. atlantahater says:


    • atlantalover says:


      • Mett says:

        Lebron dropped 43 on the Hawks in just 3 quarters! Hope Hawks drop to 6 or 7 and get swept by the Heat in the first round. Let the Knicks take out Chicago, leaving Miamai v. Orlando and Knicks v. Celtics – and we all this means Heat-Celtics in the East Finals where Lebron and Wade are going to “Do” the Celtics like they should have been done a long time ago – no vasoline.

      • juice says:

        Well, first off, the Knicks wouldn’t beat Chicago in a series if they met in the playoffs. Chicago is the top team in the east, with the number one pick for MVP and a great supporting cast. Dont get me wrong, the Knicks got a decent squad, but they dont have the depth to deal with Chicago, Boston, Miami, or Orlando.

        Second, I’m not so sure that the Heat could take Orlando in a 7 game series. Everybody thinks the Heat are gunna do so good in the playoffs cause they got Wade and LeBron, but the fact of the matter is that either one of them have played a minute of playoff basketball together on the same team. They havent proven anything (yet) and to say that they are going to walk all over these teams in the east who have been playoff contedners for years is just ignorant. I mean, yeah, the Heat were a playoff team last year, but compare their roster last year to their roster this year. Yeah,now they’re a better team on paper, but they’ve proven again and again that they cant beat the top teams in the league (with the exception of the Lakers).

        As for Boston, the Celtics are a great team, lets just hope that retarded mid-season trade doesn’t come back to haunt them. They definitly have some kinks to work out.

        The Heat will make it to the second round no doubt about it, but i wouldnt be so sure about them getting past the second round. Lebron has a seasoned history of outstanding playoff performances followed by playoff defeat. And I would never count on D. Wade because of his history of injury. Dont get me wrong, they are both GREAT players, but in my book, neither has proven that they can get it done. And i know, the Heat won it in 06, but they had Shaq, not to mention they played the Mavs in the Finals, who are a known playoff choker team.

        Bottom line, the Finals will be either Boston vs LA, or Chicago vs. LA. And since the NBA is scripted like a bad play, the Lakers are gunna win it all. Boston is my team, but the NBA is as crooked as a politician, and they wont let Phil Jackson retire without another 3-peat. And thats just the way it is…

      • Pete says:

        Do the Celtics?

        Haha keep dreaming buddy…they have to get past the Sixers first! Knowing the Heat’s record against over .500 East teams I wouldn’t be counting on it!

      • Gary says:

        As crazy as Mett’s prediction sounds it’s not to far fetched. NY is a sleeping Giant and I think they will upset Chicago if matched against them. And I don’t think Celtics will be healthy enough. Miami is the team that I see coming out the East but just my opinion.

      • prix says:

        NY is the darkhorse in the East…watch for them in the playoffs…Billups is the key…they will upset the Bulls and crash down aging Celtics…it would be a good fight between them and Miami in the East finals…on the other hand the Mavs will face the Lakers in the west and probably win in 6 games…kidd will outplayed them but the story is that kobe is old enough to handle the Lake show…kobe still the best but i think he will fall short this time…it would be lucky for the Lakers if they beat OKC this year…forget the spurs everybody knows they cant reach the finals…spurs is just a 2nd round team…Heat-Mavs…