All Stars for the Hawks?

We are almost at the halfway point in the NBA season and the Atlanta Hawks are currently 25-17 and 4.5 games out of first place. They are currently tied with Bulls in the standings, but have a lower winning percentage, so they sit as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with 40 games remaining. There is plenty of time for this team to find its stride, sports fans.

But that’s not what we are writing about today. What we are looking at is the All Star Game on Valentine’s Day at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The question isn’t about the game, but more about how many (if any) Atlanta Hawks will be playing on February 14th. In the 2014-15 season, the Hawks had four All Stars, but this year it appears that they could be left out of the event altogether. Let’s take a look at the starting five and see who has the best chance to make it.

PG – Jeff Teague: Teague is having a down year compared to his 2014-15 campaign. His field goal percentage is down, his free throw percentage is down, his steals are down and, more importantly, his assists are down. Yes, he’s shooting 40% from behind the arc, but I want my point guard to be a ball distributer. When you look at Teague’s career line, he is actually following suit with how he’s actually in line with those numbers this season. Sure there is a little drop off, but it’s not a lot. Everyone wants Jeff to play the way he did in the 2014-15 season, but we have to sit back and realize that he had a career year in the second year under Coach Budenholzer’s system. Teague is not solely responsible for his numbers decline, as many Hawks have struggled this season, which also leads to a lower assist total for the point guards. Here is Teague’s line as it stands for this season:

G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS

39

38

1119

195

465

.419

44

108

.407

151

357

.423

.467

142

168

.845

19

85

104

216

49

12

102

81

576

And here are his stats per game this year compared to last year:

Season

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

2P

2PA

2P%

eFG%

FT

FTA

FT%

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

2014-15  73 72 30.5 5.6 12.2 .460 1.0 2.8 .343 4.6 9.3 .496 .500 3.8 4.4 .862 0.4 2.1 2.5 7.0 1.7 0.4 2.8 1.9 15.9
2015-16 39 38 28.7 5.0 11.9 .419 1.1 2.8 .407 3.9 9.2 .423 .467 3.6 4.3 .845 0.5 2.2 2.7 5.5 1.3 0.3 2.6 2.1 14.8

Teague had an incredible season last year and he only made it as a reserve. He is still putting up good numbers this season, but they aren’t All Star worthy numbers. Check out his numbers last year entering the All Star Game:

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

3P

3PA

FT

FTA

ORB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

FG%

3P%

FT%

TS%

USG%

ORtg

DRtg

+/-

MP

PTS

TRB

AST

50

49

1572

296

634

53

156

206

237

18

126

375

85

23

135

98

851

.467

.340

.869

.576

25.8

114

105

+10.9

31.4

17.0

2.5

7.5

And again, those numbers only got him to the bench. Do I think Teague is good? Yes. Do I think he would be a bigger name if he was in a bigger market? Yes. Do I think he’s an All Star? No, not this year.

SG – Kyle Korver: Was there a bigger basketball star for the city of Atlanta last year than Korver? I don’t think so. When he attempted a shot from the 3-point line, the arena was quiet and you just knew that it was going in. At the break last year, Korver was the only guy in the league that was shooting more than 50 percent from behind the arc, 50 percent field goal percentage and making 90 percent of his free throws. He was named an All Star after Dewayne Wade stated he was not going to play due to injury and he scored 21 points in just 15 minutes; good enough for second best on the team. The 2015-16 season has not gone as smoothly as last year.

The thing with Kyle Korver is that he can’t create his own shot and doesn’t do anything particularly well other than shoot the three ball. This year he has hit 36 percent of the 203 3-pointers he has attempted. Again, last year Korver was shooting better than 50 percent at the break and ended up connecting on 49 percent of those shots overall. He’s making more of his 2-point shot attempts at 54 percent overall on the season. Unfortunately for Korver that’s not good enough to merit an All Star bid. He’s a shooting guard average 9.4 points per game, which is among the league’s worst. This decision is easy. As much as I love Korver, he’s not an All Star this season.

SF – Kent Bazemore: Bazemore had some big shoes to fill at small forward as he is undersized for the position and DeMarre Carroll, his predecessor, signed a four year $60M contract last offseason. Bazemore struggled early on, but has really come into his own lately. Here are his numbers on the season (per game):

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

2P

2PA

2P%

eFG%

FT

FTA

FT%

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

37

30

28.1

4.5

9.8

.465

1.7

4.0

.419

2.9

5.8

.498

.551

1.8

2.1

.857

0.2

4.1

4.4

2.4

1.4

0.5

1.6

2.4

12.5

Those are some pretty impressive numbers for a guy who is getting his first chance to start for the first time in his career. Look at his career line (per game):

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

2P

2PA

2P%

eFG%

FT

FTA

FT%

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

240

55

14.8

2.1

4.8

.434

0.7

1.8

.369

1.4

3.0

.474

.504

0.9

1.4

.664

0.2

2.0

2.2

1.2

0.7

0.3

1.0

1.4

5.8

Bazemore is producing above his average numbers, which is more of a product of the coaching staff of the Atlanta Hawks than it is Bazemore all of a sudden putting it all together. Nonetheless, is he an All Star? No. He’s playing admirably, but not even Carroll made the All Star Game last season.

PF – Paul Millsap: Millsap has been the most consistent player for the Atlanta Hawks since joining the organization. He’s made two All Star Games and will be looking for his third this season. When you look at what he has done this year, only his 3-point percentage has dropped. Millsap has stayed the same or gotten better at everything else. He’s shooting better from the field (54 percent), connecting on more free throws (77 percent), grabbing more rebounds (8.7 per game), blocking more shots (1.3 per game) and scoring more points (18.4 per game). The guy is really thriving under Budenholzer’s system. Here are his numbers for the season (per game):

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

2P

2PA

2P%

eFG%

FT

FTA

FT%

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

42

42

32.7

6.5

13.3

.490

0.8

2.7

.289

5.7

10.5

.542

.520

4.6

5.9

.777

2.5

6.2

8.7

3.5

1.8

1.3

2.3

3.0

18.4

Is he an All Star? Yes. Do I need to write more about him? Not really, no. If he was an All Star the past two seasons and his numbers are getting better, then I think that he should be an easy selection.

C – Al Horford: The three time All Star is enjoying another successful season, but he’s doing it a little differently this year. Horford has attempted 123 3-point field goals, which is 58 more than he attempted in his entire career entering this season. Not only that, but he’s been shooting the three ball better than he has in his career making 33 percent of his shots, which isn’t too shabby for a center. Other than that, he’s been pretty consistent. Here are his career numbers compared to this season’s numbers:

Season

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

2P

2PA

2P%

eFG%

FT

FTA

FT%

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

2015-16

42

42

31.1

6.6

13.0

.505

1.0

2.9

.325

5.6

10.1

.558

.542

1.3

1.6

.797

2.1

4.9

7.0

3.0

0.8

1.5

1.4

1.9

15.4

Career

538

534

33.5

6.1

11.4

.537

0.1

0.3

.324

6.0

11.0

.544

.542

1.9

2.6

.741

2.4

6.6

9.0

2.7

0.8

1.2

1.6

2.4

14.3

Everything is pretty much in line with what he’s been doing throughout his entire career. So is he an All Star? This one could go either way in my opinion. I think if Millsap wasn’t an All Star then Horford would be, but I think the chances of Millsap and Horford being in the game together are slim. Do I think Horford is an All Star? Yes. Do I think he makes the trip to play game in Toronto? I don’t. The All Star Game should be about putting the best players in the game no matter what team they play for or what their name is. Unfortunately for Al Horford it doesn’t always work that way. Look at Kobe Bryant‘s numbers and he will be starting. It’s for the fans and voted by the fans, which can hurt guys like Horford.

In Summary, one Hawk will make the All Star Game with a slight chance of two. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is when this team hits their hot streak. Last year’s hot streak was fun for the month of January, but I’d rather see this year’s Hawks team hit that extra gear at the end of April. Sure numbers are down from last year, but this is still a very fun (and sometimes frustrating) team to watch.

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