The Hawks have acquired free agent guard/forward Thabo Sefolosha to add wing depth to the Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll duo that was very good in the starting lineup. Behind Carroll and Korver, the Hawks were thin on the wing and adding Sefolosha fills that need, particularly on the defensive end.
Sefolosha spent the last five-plus seasons with the Thunder. For his career, Sefolosha has averaged 5.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. His best offensive single season was two years ago in 2012-13 when he averaged 7.6 points per game on 48.1 percent shooting and 41.9 percent shooting from three.
Sefolosha had a tough 2013-14 campaign, seeing his efficiency drop off as he battled a calf injury. The Hawks hope that after getting him back to 100 percent, he'll be able to return to the form that made him one of the better 3-and-D threats in the NBA.
Sefolosha’s defense has always been his calling card. He is a tenacious defender on the wing, and he has the size -- listed at 6'7", 215 pounds -- and wingspan -- listed at 7'2" -- to bother opposing wings. He has very good lateral quickness when healthy, and can keep up with smaller wings on the perimeter as well as having the size to handle bigger forwards.
This past season, Sefolosha was 50th in the NBA against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, allowing just 0.71 points per possession, per Synergy Sports, and was 70th in the league against isolation, allowing 0.73 PPP. The Hawks hope that adding him will provide them with an extra wing defender, something they lacked when Carroll came out of games last season.
On offense, Atlanta will hope he returns to his 2012-13 form. This past season, Sefolosha struggled, shooting just 30.6 percent from three-point range and only 28.2 percent from distance on spot-up attempts. In 2012-13, he was 22nd in the NBA at 1.06 points per possession. He hit 47.9 percent of his shot attempts that season as a spot-up shooter, averaging 1.14 PPP and shot 42.8 percent from three-point range.
Along with the injury, Sefolosha took more contested shots in catch-and-shoot situations. Per Synergy, Thabo was guarded on 52.6 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts this past season, where he shot just 23.6 percent when guarded compared to 38.5 percent on unguarded attempts. In 2012-13 he was guarded on just 39.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts, and he shot 40.2 percent on those attempts and 40.7 percent on his unguarded attempts.
Sefolosha figures to play in a similar offensive role to Carroll. 54.8 percent of Carroll’s catch-and-shoot attempts were guarded last season. He shot 37.2 percent in those opportunities which landed him in the top 26 percent in the NBA. Sefolosha figures to see similar looks in the Hawks offense, and if healthy he can hopefully regain the form that put him in the top 10 percent in the NBA on guarded attempts two seasons ago, per Synergy Sports.
Sefolosha’s defense alone will be a boost for the Hawks' wing depth, and if he can regain his shooting form that he’s shown he can achieve, he could also be a terrific floor-spacing weapon for the Hawks drive-and-kick offense.
Story by Robby Kalland