First Quarter Report Card Grades for Each Member of the Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are off to a strong 13-6 start to open the season, better than most people believed they would be at this point in the season.
Thanks to solid play from some key big men, the loss of superstar Joe Johnson hasn't hurt the team as much as many, myself included, had anticipated.
This team has many chinks in its armor, positions that need more work, and players that are underperforming by any standards, but for the most part, the Hawks have been a pleasant surprise in the NBA so far.
Let's take a look at each player on this team, how they've performed to this point in the season, and grade them based off of their early-season performances.
Devin Harris, at one point in his career, was considered one of the next star point guards in the league. He was the lone bright spot on an otherwise incredibly bad New Jersey Nets team in 2008-09, when he averaged 21.3 points, 6.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
Let's just say he hasn't produced at that level since , and his performance in Atlanta has been anything but good.
Harris is getting about 24 minutes of playing time per game, and he's only averaging 7.4 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. His player efficiency rating (PER) of 11.54 is well below the league average of 15.
He's not shooting well, and he hasn't been a major cog in the Hawks' early season success. I expected more out of him, especially with the departure of Johnson.
Al Horford has been absolutely fantastic so far this season, and is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons the Hawks are sitting high up in the rankings.
We all know what he's capable of—for years he's been viewed as potentially one of the best big men in the game, and he's shown that so far this season.
Horford is averaging 16.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game. You'd like to see that block total be a little higher from a center, but altogether, that's being pretty nitpicky.
He's shooting at a 53.8 percent clip from the field, playing adequate defense, and is as imposing a center as you'll find in the game. His 19.37 PER is well above the average NBA player as well.
It's hard to argue against a guy who's averaging a double-double every night.
John Jenkins was drafted absurdly high from the get-go. The Hawks, obviously in search of a replacement for Johnson, made a big-time reach by drafting the former Vanderbilt star at 23rd overall.
Jenkins, who most viewed as an early second-round prospect, has made little impact with the Hawks so far this season, averaging 1.3 points, 0.2 assists, and 0.8 rebounds per game in only 2.8 minutes.
Though many believed him to be the best pure-shooter in the draft, Jenkins is only shooting 33.3 percent from the field and has yet to make his first three-pointer, something he was famous for at Vandy.
He'll get better with time, but so far Jenkins hasn't contributed in a way that the Hawks were hoping for.
Ivan Johnson has the unfortunate task of being the power forward understudy to one of the best power forwards in the game in Josh Smith, but so far he has done a pretty solid job off the bench.
Don't let his relatively low numbers fool you—5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game—as Johnson is averaging only 11.7 minutes per game. On any team that needs a power forward to give significant time to, Johnson would likely flourish.
Oh yeah, and he's shooting a hot 63 percent from the field.
He's a massive liability at the charity stripe, where he's only managing to shoot 40 percent, and he is a bit undersized at the four, only measuring 6'8", which is likely why he's only blocking 0.1 shots per game. His defense needs a little work.
So far though, it's safe to say Johnson is one of the more underrated players on this team.
Despite being injured for the past five games, Korver has been an interesting player for the Hawks so far.
He lacks any kind of consistency, and his numbers don't particularly pop out at you for someone who should be a starting shooting guard. He's averaging 10.6 points, 1.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in just under 29 minutes per game.
Korver is capable of big games, however. When he's at his best, he can be good for 16-20 points and around five rebounds per game; at his worst, he can be a non-factor.
He's a fairly consistent threat from long-range as well, shooting 43 percent from the three-point line.
Korver's biggest challenge this season will be working with what is a relatively weak backcourt, and trying to find some level of consistency on a night-to-night basis. If he can do that, he could be a pretty decent shooting guard in this league.
Another fairly disappointing guard on a team in desperate need of guard depth, Morrow isn't exactly a key piece on this Atlanta squad.
Morrow is only averaging 5.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game, well below his career averages. He shoots fairly well—43 percent from the field—but he's only seeing 13.4 minutes per game, as opposed to 26.6 minutes per game over the course of his career.
Morrow is only 27 and should be entering the prime of his career, but the Hawks are under-utilizing him. He could be a solid contributor on this team, but he's just not getting the minutes, and he doesn't exactly blow away competition in such limited playing time.
A player with some potential, just not being utilized all that much.
Zaza Pachulia, aside from having an incredibly fun name to say, has been solid with the Hawks so far this season. Not great, but certainly a reliable contributor.
The 6'11" power forward is just another effective piece in a front court filled with depth, and similarly to Ivan Johnson, would likely be getting much more playing time on a team in need of size.
Right now he's averaging 20.4 minutes and scoring 6.3 points, grabbing 7.2 rebounds, and blocking 0.4 shots per game.
He shoots a fairly reliable 48.3 percent from the field, and if he was given 32 minutes per game, he would very likely average a double-double.
He may be a big trade asset for the Hawks before the deadline for a team in need of a reliable rebounder in the paint.
Well, there's not much to say here. The 7'0" center hurts his team more than he contributes.
Petro is only averaging 0.7 points, 0.3 rebounds, and 0 blocks in 3.3 minutes per game. Worse than that, he's only shooting 33.3 percent from the field (absolutely miserable for a seven-foot center).
The real nail in the coffin is his PER, which is a shocking -4.28.
Petro has no value on this team, and even though he's been slightly more effective in the past, he's hardly worth any of the playing time he gets with the depth the Hawks have in the front court.
He likely could be waived by the Hawks very soon.
To put his futility in perspective, DeSagana Diop, one of the worst players in the NBA has a PER of 5.47. Still awful, but Petro makes him look like Shaq.
Another pointless player. Sorry, Scott.
Somehow, his PER is astoundingly worse than Petro's. -14.09. Good lord, his presence on the court is worse than playing a man down.
Fortunately for the Hawks, Scott has only seen action in five games so far this season, and he's only scored 0.4 points and 0.8 rebounds per game, while shooting an absolutely pathetic 16.7 percent from the court.
Is Scott a bad player? It's tough to say. It's unfair to judge a rookie so harshly, and he showed promise in the D-league.
Maybe all Scott needs is more development, and playing with some good frontcourt talent can help that. But right now, he's just a massive liability.
Everyone knows what Josh Smith is capable of. On his best nights, he's not only one of the best power forwards in the league, he's also one of the best players in the league.
His numbers are certainly better than average, scoring 17.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, to go along with his astounding 2.2 blocks per game.
The fact is, Smith has become one of the most dominant players in the league.
He's imposing, he essentially forbids drives to the rim, and he is capable of devastating opponents in the paint.
With the absence of Joe Johnson, Smith and Al Horford are now the lifeblood of this Atlanta team, and he's performing up to standards so far this season.
We'd like to see his points per game get a boost, and his shooting percentages are sort of shaky. That's about all there is to worry about with Smith at this point.
It's becoming sort of a trend here: The Hawks (at least, up to this point in the slide show) lack a serious threat at shooting guard.
Stevenson is no exception. He is not a truly viable option at the two spot.
He's only averaging 7.6 points, 1.0 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game, to go along with a subpar PER of 10.30.
Not a great shooter, but not a bad one either, he's also something of a liability defensively. It's tough to say where Stevenson sits with this organization, as he is really just another member of a team that badly needs a consistent backcourt.
Nothing really special so far this season from Stevenson.
Finally, we get to a member of the backcourt that is actually doing quite well. And Jeff Teague is as big of a surprise as any player in the NBA.
Drafted 19th overall by the Hawks, 18 other teams passed him over due to his lack of elite size, his apparent lack of athleticism, and the fact that it just looked like there were better guards in the draft.
Big mistake for several teams.
Teague is averaging 13.6 points, 6.4 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and a solid 1.8 steals per game in 32.2 minutes a night. He's also shooting at a solid clip of 44 percent from the court.
Teague is finally hitting his stride as a player, and he's been an anchor that Atlanta's backcourt desperately needs.
He's only going to improve the more he plays, and Teague could very well end up being a good point guard in this league before long.
Another big-time purposeless player on a team that has significantly better front court options than Anthony Tolliver.
Tolliver is only averaging 2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game, he's shooting a measly 27.3 percent from the field, and his PER of 2.86 is fairly embarrassing.
The simple fact with Tolliver is that he doesn't have the ability to be even a decent role player on this team. As mentioned before, the Hawks have a great starting front court, solid back-up options, and no real need for dead weight like Tolliver.
It's unlikely he'll but cut from the Hawks with other players on this team playing much worse than him, but don't expect him to get much playing time in the near future.
Ah, we get to end the slideshow on a fairly high note.
It's abundantly clear that the Hawks, if they want to be considered a legitimate threat this year, need to find consistency in their backcourt. With Williams, Teague, and on some nights Korver, it's definitely safe to say it's a work in progress.
Williams is doing well in his role though, averaging 13.8 points, 3.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game in only 25.3 minutes. He has one of the highest PERs on the team, sitting happily at 19.40.
The biggest drawback with Williams? He's not really a true shooting guard. He's only 6'1", making him barely tall enough to play the point in the NBA. In fact, that's exactly how he plays—like a point guard.
Is that bad? No, not really. But with Teague's surprising development and Atlanta's desperate need for a consistent shooting guard, they had to slot him at the two.
It's worked so far, but you have to ask yourself, how long can he keep this up? The Hawks really should be looking for a shooting guard before the trade deadline.
They shouldn't use Williams as a trade piece though, he'd be a solid backup behind Teague.