The Hawks’ Go-To Guy?

January 28, 2008

Photo Courtesy of The Oregonian 

A quick list of Atlanta Hawks that Joe Johnson is not markedly better than:

-Josh Smith

-Marvin Williams

On a night where he scored 19 points (only 2 more than either guy mentioned above) and was embarassed on both ends of the floor by Brandon Roy, Joe Johnson was rewarded by Mike Woodson with exclusive rights to the ball on the Hawks final two offensive posessions.

While his 2 misses in the final :10 were just the icing on the cake of an all-out team collapse (for the 2nd time in a week) against the Blazers. I was left asking – why does Joe always get the ball, with no desire or expectation of passing, at the end of the game?

Obviously, this is Woodson’s call, so I can’t really fault Joe. Nonetheless, while he has been crucial to their gradual improvement over the last 2 seasons, in my mind, he isn’t the only reason…and isn’t that clutch. There’s nothing wrong with that – but this Hawks team wins when it plays as such.

As solid of a jump shooter as Marvin has become, and as great of a slasher as you have in Josh Smith, why leave it in the hands of a guy who isn’t that great of a ball-handler, and is merely “good” at driving to the basket (and honestly, doesn’t do it that much in make or break situations)? If everyone in the crowd knows what’s coming, how hard is it for the defense to defend it? Why not use the wealth of comparable talent you have at hand?

To be fair – I’ve wondered this about many teams over the years, not just the Hawks. This whole idea of having that one guy to take the final shot seems foolish and dangerous to me. Regardless of who it is, they need an outlet if everything breaks down. Creating those outlets, even during non-game ending situations, seems to be something the Hawks aren’t getting from their coaching staff.

This game also reminds me of a thought I’ve been having for a while now. Marvin Williams = Good Draft Pick. Shelden Williams = Bad Draft Pick.

True – you don’t get Chris Paul or Deron Williams when drafting Marvin, but you don’t get Brandon Roy when drafting Shelden Williams, who, by all accounts, is your 3rd post guy off the bench. The non-drafting of a PG in ’05 is mitigated by having Acie Law, and solid veteran play from Anthony Johnson. Not having a gamer like Brandon Roy, when Billy Knight clearly was reaching with Shelden at #5 (Roy going #6), is just mind-blowing. At least most pundits considered Marvin the 2nd best player in that draft when he was taken.

 I’ve defended alot of what Billy Knight has done for the Hawks. That decision, though, is inexcusable.

Oh…and Shelden logged all of zero minutes in last night’s loss, along with Lorenzen Wright, Salim Stoudamire, and Solomon Jones. Maybe Woody’s starters wouldn’t have run  out of gas if those guys could’ve spelled them for a while?