Atlanta Hawks Who Must Step Up for Injured Lou Williams
And it didn’t help that the Hawks lost their last eight of 10 games when it happened.
While Williams will be missed greatly, the Hawks are still a solid team without one of their top players.
It’s always unfortunate to see a teammate get hurt, but the bright side is that there is always the opportunity for others to step up.
Note: All statistics effective through Jan. 27
This is Jeff Teague’s opportunity to emerge as a big-time player.
He had to share the spotlight when Williams was on the court, so this is a great chance for him to create shots for himself.
Luckily for the Hawks, he’s already had a head start.
In the last seven games, Teague averaged 19.1 points and 8.2 assists per game, including a career-high performance of 28 points and 11 assists against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 16.
He had another big night in the Hawks' 108-106 loss against the New York Knicks on Jan. 27, finishing with 27 points and six assists.
Devin Harris is back from an ankle injury and has started at point guard for two consecutive games. That will especially work in Teague’s favor because he can focus more on scoring.
After all, Teague never claimed (via Tom Lorenzo of SB Nation) to be a “pure” point guard. He also admitted (via a pre-game interview with HOOPSWORLD, according to the site's Senior NBA writer Alex Raskin) that he needs to work on his consistency and turnovers (2.9 average).
There is plenty of upside for Teague, and he has the potential to play like he did against the Nets and Knicks on a regular basis.
Kyle Korver is seeing more minutes with Williams out, and he has not been shy about taking more shots.
His 27-point game against the Celtics was a team high, and his eight three-pointers were a career best.
What’s great about this performance is he made five of those threes in the fourth quarter, including one that put the Hawks within two with over two minutes remaining in regulation.
Talk about clutch.
But there needs to be more to Korver’s offensive game.
Rather than rely mostly on long-range shots, it would be nice to see Korver drive to the hole for a thunderous jam from time to time.
OK, that may be stretching it a bit.
Korver is a strong player on defense, so he definitely has the toughness for more presence in the paint. It would certainly help him shed the “one-dimensional” tag.
After Korver’s historic night, teams are going to catch on and start double-teaming him.
It would be beneficial for him and his teammates if he switched up his shot selection and stopped camping behind the arc.
It’s good to see Devin Harris back in the roster. The concern is whether he can remain healthy.
Out of the 15 Hawks games in January, Harris has played in eight.
Harris put up a season-high 24 points in the Hawks 103-95 win against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 11, but that was only his second 20-point performance.
He was back in the starting lineup against the Knicks on Jan. 27, but was barely a factor in the game with three points in 21 minutes.
However, Williams being out is a grand opening for Harris to show his scoring capabilities.
Harris is not much different from Williams, either. When he was with the Nets from 2007-11, he, too, was the spark off the bench who could knock ‘em down from anywhere.
The Hawks need for that Devin Harris to reappear. Otherwise, Harris' lackluster display could force coach Larry Drew to diminish his minutes.
Coach Drew said earlier in January (via Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that he was seeking to give John Jenkins more playing time, and it now looks like Jenkins will get even more minutes added to his stat sheet.
He was scoreless in the game, but still provided one assist and two rebounds in 14 minutes.
Clearly, there is much for Jenkins to learn.
He hasn’t been in the starting lineup since Devin Harris’s return on Jan. 25 and has only played a total of 11 minutes
Still, Drew plans to continue to play Jenkins more.
Drew recently told Sports Illustrated’s Matt Dollinger that Jenkins was going to have to “grow up real quick” and that Jenkins equally understood it was time for him to upgrade his game.
There will be plenty of time for Jenkins to mature and develop into a reliable reserve.
DeShawn Stevenson has been almost invisible in January, only averaging one point in twelve minutes.
That changed once the Hawks played the Knicks on Jan. 27.
He scored 15 points in 29 minutes at Madison Square Garden, which was his best output since another 15-point night against Washington on Dec. 7.
This is what coach Larry Drew needs to see out of his bench players, and Stevenson is the leader of the crew.
A right knee injury has limited Stevenson to playing 28 of the Hawks' 44 games this season, so it would be a big relief if Stevenson can get close to being 100 percent.
Stevenson shines best on the defensive end, especially on the wing. He played a key role in shutting down Miami Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the 2011 NBA Finals while on the Dallas Mavericks.
He told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his right knee has bothered him since that series. It was drained several times last season while he was with the Nets.
This is Stevenson's 13th season, so not much can be expected from him.
But the Hawks would still gain from Stevenson if can stay healthy and keep his defensive fire burning.