NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Atlanta Hawks, who struggled to score over the last two months of the season.
The Atlanta Hawks had the league’s worst offense after the All-Star break last season, scoring just 101 points per 100 possessions over their final 26 games.
It had been just two seasons prior when the Hawks had the league’s sixth best offense with one of the highest assist rates of the last 10 years. The 2014-15 Hawks came out of nowhere and moved the ball incredibly through a 33-2 stretch that pushed them to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
But the offensive success left as quickly as it arrived. As the Hawks lost pieces of their core, their offense suffered dramatically.
In 2015-16, the Hawks regressed to being a below-average offensive team. They were one of three teams that scored at least three fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in ’14-15.
Last season, with the league having its most efficient season of the last 40 years, the Hawks were one of only four teams who scored fewer points per 100 possessions than they did the season before. They ranked 26th offensively before the All-Star break and were 1.9 points per 100 possessions worse after it.
The ball movement suffered. Passes per possession numbers according to SportVU…
- 2014-15: 3.37 (4th)
- 2015-16: 3.29 (6th)
- 2016-17: 3.12 (12th)
Not coincidentally, they saw the biggest drop in the percentage of their jump shots that were uncontested. According to SportVU, 72.5 percent of their jump shots were contested, a rate which ranked 11th in the league last season. They had the league each of the previous two seasons, at 79.4 percent in 2014-15 and 80.2 percent in ’15-16.
They had the league’s second biggest drop-off in effective field goal percentage (-1.2 percent), and also the third biggest increase in turnover rate. Their 16.4 turnovers per 100 possessions were the league’s worst mark after the break.
Some good news in that regard: Their highest individual turnover rate after the break last season (17.6 per 100 possessions used) belonged to Dwight Howard, who is taking some illegal screens and three-second violations with him to Charlotte. Still, the only Hawks that had an effective field goal percentage better than the league average on at least 350 shots last season were Howard and Tim Hardaway Jr., who is back in New York.
With all those turnovers and bad shooting, the Hawks scored 3.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average last season. That made it their worst offensive season since they went 13-69 in 2004-05.
They were a lot better team than that one because the defense hasn’t suffered. The Hawks are one of only three teams (Golden State and San Antonio are the others) that have ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons.
But the offensive brilliance of three years ago was fleeting. And now, they’ve lost Paul Millsap, the last starter from that 60-win team of three seasons ago. And it’s very possible that they’re going to have the league’s worst offense for more than just two months.
History: Season by season results | Advanced stats | Franchise leaders
2016-17: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups
Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups
HAWKS NOTES – GENERAL
- Have the league’s second longest active playoff streak, having reached the postseason each of the last 10 years.
- One of three teams (all in the East) that finished with a winning record and a negative point differential. Only Orlando had a bigger differential between their actual win total and their “expected” wins (based on point differential). The Hawks were 43-39, with point differential of a team that was 38-44.
- Were 4.9 points per 100 possessions worse in 2016-17 than they were in ’15-16 (plus-4.1 NetRtg). Only Oklahoma City (7.0) suffered a bigger NetRtg drop-off.
- Were the league’s most improved rebounding team, ranking 13th in total rebounding percentage (grabbing 50.3 percent of available rebounds) after ranking 28th (47.5 percent) in ’15-16.
- Were only 1.8 points per 100 possessions better at home (plus-0.1) than they were on the road (minus-1.7). That was the smallest home-road NetRtg differential in the league.
- Were 8-3 and had the league’s best NetRtg (plus-5.1 points per 100 possessions) with a rest disadvantage, where they were playing the second game of a back-to-back against an opponent that didn’t play the day before.
- Only team that won three games after trailing by 20 or more points last season.
HAWKS NOTES – OFFENSE
- With the league average OffRtg jumping from 103.9 to 106.2 points scored per 100 possessions, the Hawks were one of only four teams who scored fewer points per 100 possessions in 2016-17 than they did in ’15-16.
- One of five teams that saw a decrease in both 3-point percentage (from 35.0 percent to 34.1 percent) and the percentage of their shots that were threes (from 33.6 percent to 30.9 percent). The latter was the third biggest drop in the league.
- Had the league’s biggest increase in offensive rebounding percentage – from 19.1 percent (30th) in ’15-16 to 23.6 percent (15th) in ’16-17. Prior to last season, they had ranked in the bottom five in offensive rebounding percentage and had a total rebounding percentage below 50 percent for six straight seasons.
- Also had the league’s biggest increase free throw rate (FTA/FGA) – from 0.237 (29th) to 0.295 (5th).
- Had the league’s worst offense in the first half of games (100.4 points scored per 100 possessions).
- Have ranked in the top 10 in assist percentage (AST/FGM) in each of the last seven seasons.
HAWKS NOTES – DEFENSE
- Have ranked in the top 10 in opponent turnover rate in each of the last six seasons and in the top 10 in opponent free throw rate in each of the last nine.
- Allowed their opponents to get only 28.5 percent of their shots from the restricted area, the second lowest rate in the league and down from 32.8 percent the season before. That was the biggest reduction in the league.
- 35.0 percent of their opponents’ shots (the league’s fourth highest rate) came from 3-point range, up from 28.4 percent (14th lowest rate) the season before. That was the league’s biggest increase in opponent 3PA/FGA from 2015-16 to ’16-17.
- Only team that allowed fewer points per 100 possessions on the road (102.0) than they did at home (104.3). On average, home teams scored 3.3 more points per 100 possessions than road teams.
HAWKS NOTES – LINEUPS
- Had two of the league’s three worst offensive lineups among the 46 that played at least 200 minutes together. Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Millsap and Dwight Howard, with either Kyle Korver or Thabo Sefolosha at the other wing, scored just 96.7 points per 100 possessions in 631 total minutes together.
- The lineup with Korver is the only lineup that played at least 200 minutes and had a true shooting percentage below 50 percent. It also had the highest turnover ratio (16.7 per 100 possessions) among the group.
- The same lineup with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Sefolosha on the wings outscored its opponents by 27.3 points per 100 possessions in 126 minutes. That was the third best NetRtg among 136 lineups that played at least 100 minutes together.
- The Hawks outscored their opponents by 6.2 points per 100 possessions in 1,221 total minutes with Millsap and Hardaway on the floor together. But they were outscored by 1.9 points per 100 possessions with only one of the two on the floor and by 10.4 points per 100 possessions with both on the bench. Both departed in free agency this summer.
- After trading for Ersan Ilyasova at the break/deadline, they were 10.0 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-3.3) than they were with him on the bench (minus-6.7). The teammate he played the most minutes with was Hardaway.
HAWKS NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- Luke Babbitt took 74.7 percent of his shots from 3-point range, the second highest rate (behind only that of J.R. Smith) among 295 players with at least 250 field goal attempts. Babbitt attempted 5.3 free throws for every 100 shots from the field, the third lowest free throw rate (higher than only those of Smith and Sergio Rodriguez) among those same 295 players.
- Kent Bazemore‘s effective field goal percentage dropped from 51.7 percent (above the league average) in 2015-16 to 47.3 percent (well below it) in ’16-17. That was the sixth biggest drop among 133 players who attempted at least 500 shots both seasons.
- Bazemore (from 42.1 percent to 36.9 percent) and Dennis Schroder (from 30.6 percent to 24.2 percent) also saw two of the eight biggest drops in 3PA/FGA among that same group of 133 players.
- Last season, Marco Belinelli saw the league’s 10th biggest increase in effective field goal percentage (from 45.7 percent to 51.2 percent) among those same 133 players. Prior to that, he saw the league’s sixth biggest drop in effective field goal percentage (from 51.5 percent to 45.7 percent) among 157 players who attempted at least 400 shots in 2014-15 and ’15-16.
- According to SportVU, San Antonio opponents scored only 0.94 points per possession when Dewayne Dedmon was the screener’s defender on a ball screen last season. That was the second lowest rate (higher than that of only Aron Baynes) among 99 players who were the screener’s defender on at least 500 ball screens.
- Malcolm Delaney had an effective field goal percentage of 40.7 percent, the third worst mark among 279 players who attempted at least 300 shots. He shot 23.6 percent from 3-point range, the second worst mark among players with at least 100 3-point attempts.
- Ersan Ilyasova led the league with 36 drawn charges.
- Mike Muscala shot 41.8 percent from 3-point range, the second best mark among 36 players 6-10 and taller who attempted at least 100 threes.
- Taurean Prince led all rookies in minutes (31.2), points (11.2) and rebounds (5.3) per game in the playoffs.
- Schroder led the league with 971 total drives and ranked second with 12.3 drives per game.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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NBA TV’s Hawks preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 9. See the full preview schedule here.