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Grading Each Atlanta Hawks Player as Regular Season Enters Final Month

Justin OlexaContributor IIIMarch 21, 2014

Grading Each Atlanta Hawks Player as Regular Season Enters Final Month

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    Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap
    Jeff Teague and Paul MillsapDave Tulis/Associated Press

    It has been a roller-coaster season for the Atlanta Hawks. They have gone from the expected third seed to just barely hanging on to the eighth seed.

    They dropped 13 of 14 games from Feb. 4 to Mar. 8. However, they have followed that up by winning their last five games. To their credit, they have hung on to a playoff spot while dealing with a rash of injuries. 

    Atlanta lost its best player early on but continues to come out fighting every night. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap have had to shoulder a bigger load than expected with Al Horford out. They have put the Hawks in a good spot to reach the playoffs for the seventh straight year.

    As we head into the final month of the season, here are the grades for every player on the Hawks.

    **All stats from ESPN.com unless noted otherwise

John Jenkins

2 of 16

    John Jenkins
    John JenkinsScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    John Jenkins' season was over before it really began. 

    Before he went down with the injury, Jenkins had lost most of his minutes. He spent some time in the NBA D-League and was out of the rotation due to his lack of defense according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gustavo Ayon

3 of 16

    Gustavo Ayon
    Gustavo AyonCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Gustavo Ayon dealt with injuries for most of the year and is now the third Hawk to be out for the rest of the season. The most recent shoulder injury resulted in season-ending surgery.

    Ayon appeared in 26 games and averaged a modest 4.3 points and 4.8 boards. He was never spectacular but provided the Hawks with much needed depth in the frontcourt. 

    This could be the last we see of Ayon in a Hawks uniform. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    4.34.80.412.95

     Grade: Incomplete

Al Horford

4 of 16

    Al Horford
    Al HorfordDave Tulis/Associated Press

    Before going down with an injury, Al Horford was well on his way to another All-Star Game. He was averaging a career-high 18.6 PPG and shooting 57 percent from the floor.

    With Horford in the lineup, the Hawks were a lock for the No. 3 seed in the East. Now they are just hanging on to the No. 8 seed. It is easy to see the type of impact Horford has by seeing their struggles without him. 

    Horford returned from a torn pectoral to play in the playoffs in 2011-12, but he quieted any hope of a playoff return this year, per the Associated Press.

    "No. I think it would be hard. This injury, honestly, was a little more severe than the other one. And it's my right side, shooting arm, and I need to feel 100 percent confident with it, so I think it's going to be a little bit slower."

    Hopefully Horford can make a full recovery and return to being one of the top bigs in the NBA by the start of next season.

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    18.68.41.522.13

    Grade: Incomplete

Mike Muscala

5 of 16

    Mike Muscala
    Mike MuscalaMatt York/Associated Press

    Mike Muscala was never expected to see time in a Hawks uniform this season. He was playing oversees for most of the season, but then the Hawks were hit hard by injuries.

    Here is what Danny Ferry had to say about Muscala joining the team, according to NBA.com:

    "Due to our current injuries, Mike’s representatives presented the concept of Mike joining us for the remainder of the season. With our roster situation and his strong play, we felt now was a good time to add Mike to our program."

    Muscala has not been asked to do much. He will continue to be used in a reserve role unless there is another injury. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    2.12.30.45.63

    Grade: C-

Cartier Martin

6 of 16

    Cartier Martin
    Cartier MartinDave Tulis/Associated Press

    Cartier Martin has had an eventful season. He started with the Hawks but was cut in January. After a stint with the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta signed Martin to two 10-day contracts. Now he has been signed through the rest of the season. 

    Martin played heavier minutes early in the year with Louis Williams out but is down to just over 13 minutes per game since the start of February. 

    He gives Atlanta a decent on-ball defender and deep threat off the bench. Martin does not bring much else offensively but spreads the floor for the second unit. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    5.50.51.810.73

    Grade: C

Dennis Schroder

7 of 16

    Dennis Schroder
    Dennis SchroderJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    Dennis Schroder drew comparisons to Rajon Rondo at the NBA draft and was crowned as Atlanta's future point guard. Like Rondo originally, Schroder still needs to develop his shot. He is shooting just 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from deep. 

    Schroder was expected to be the backup point guard for the Hawks this season but fell out of the rotation early on. Shelvin Mack simply outplayed him, which left Schroder without any playing time. 

    He had a brief stint in the D-League in December but has steadily earned coach Mike Budenholzer's confidence back. He is averaging 13.8 minutes per game in March and looking much more confident on the court. 

    He has shown flashes of his star potential but also looked like a rookie plenty of times. Schroder is still just 20 and has plenty of time to develop his game and adjust to the NBA.

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    3.91.91.36.98

    Grade: C

Louis Williams

8 of 16

    Louis Williams
    Louis WilliamsScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Louis Williams was supposed to come to Atlanta and be one of the top sixth men in the league. He was solid last year but has dropped off significantly this year. 

    He came back from a torn ACL, so early struggles were not a surprise. However, he has not shot over 40 percent in any month this season. 

    He is averaging just 10 points per game, his lowest output since the 2006-07 season. Williams is shooting just 38 percent from the field. Scoring is the biggest threat Williams brings to the table. He doesn't bring anything on the defensive end and has been left on the bench recently due to his struggles. 

    The Hawks have gone 5-2 in his most recent absence from the court. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    10.03.61.913.35

    Grade: D

Elton Brand

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    Elton Brand
    Elton BrandScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Elton Brand was signed to be a backup big off the bench and has been very efficient. He is shooting 54 percent from the field. With the injuries piling up, Brand was forced to play heavy minutes last month. 

    He did a nice job filling in as the starter for Pero Antic. He even looked like the vintage Elton Brand in the game against the Washington Wizards. He scored 20 points and grabbed 11 boards.

    Brand has done whatever the Hawks have needed him to do. He has put the team first in every aspect. According to Chris Vivlamore of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brand even elected to come off the bench to let Antic get his starting spot back.

    Elton Brand said he had option to start against Clippers but elected to let Pero Antic start to get Hawks back in regular lineup. #ATLHawks

    — Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) March 11, 2014

    Brand has been a great teammate and presence in the locker room. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    5.74.91.314.36

    Graded: B

Mike Scott

10 of 16

    Mike Scott
    Mike ScottRocky Widner/Getty Images

    Mike Scott has taken a big jump in his sophomore campaign. His biggest improvement has been his outside stroke.

    After shooting just one three-pointer a year ago, Scott has attempted 164 this season. He is shooting 34 percent from deep. As a power forward, this is enough of a threat to spread out the defense. 

    He has become a nice scoring threat off the bench for the Hawks. Scott had a stretch of 13 straight double-digit scoring games that ended at the start of March.

    When the frontcourt was depleted, Scott really stepped up offensively. The problem for the Virginia alum is the other end of the floor. He gets overpowered by other bigs and is still not a great rebounder. 

    If he can continue to improve his game, he should be able to stick around for a while in the NBA.

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    9.43.60.115.93

    Grade: B+

Shelvin Mack

11 of 16

    Shelvin Mack
    Shelvin MackRocky Widner/Getty Images

    Shelvin Mack has already been on three teams in his short NBA career, but he might have found a home in Atlanta.

    Mack came to the hawks as the third point guard option. However, his style of play translated perfectly into the new system.

    He took over Schroder's backup job and hasn't looked back. Mack takes care of the ball—averaging just 1.2 turnovers per game. Although Schroder is a peskier defender, Mack is the more solid one. 

    He has also been a better outside shooter. Mack has shot 34 percent from deep. The Butler alum has been a pleasant surprise for the Hawks and a good playmaker for the second unit.

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    7.43.72.113.56

    Grade: B+

Pero Antic

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    Pero Antic
    Pero AnticDave Tulis/Associated Press

    When Horford went down, Pero Antic was thrust into the starting role. He would be better utilized as a stretch big off the bench, but injuries have forced him to start. 

    The 31-year-old rookie was selected for the Rising Stars Challenge but could not play due to injury. Antic fits nicely into the new system because of his shooting touch. He has shown a nice touch from deep—shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc.  

    He really needs to improve his rebounding, but his ability to spread the floor makes up for his rebounding deficiencies, as Mike Prada of SB Nation points out:

    Hawks are +7.2/100 with Pero Antic in, -2.4/100 with him out. His spacing makes them a much better team. http://t.co/Voxwnpcnt1

    — Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) March 18, 2014

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    7.03.70.313.00

    Grade: B+

DeMarre Carroll

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    DeMarre Carroll
    DeMarre CarrollHoward Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    DeMarre Carroll is having the best season of his career by far. He is averaging career highs in just about every important statistical category. Carroll is the energy guy previous Hawks teams desperately needed.

    His impact on the court is huge for the Hawks. He has really improved his offense and is still a great defender. According to NBA.com, with Carroll on the floor, their offensive rating is 4.2 points higher, and their defensive rating is 5.7 points lower.

    That is a huge difference. He was already known as a great energy guy and defender, but his improved shot is the difference offensively.

    He has shot 38 percent from beyond the arc while shooting 3.7 per game. He had never averaged over 1.1 attempts per game previously.

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    11.01.85.514.01

    Grade: A-

Kyle Korver

14 of 16

    Kyle Korver
    Kyle KorverKevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Kyle Korver can shoot the basketball. Possibly the best shooter in the NBA, Korver connected on at least one three-pointer for an NBA-record 127 straight games. 

    He is the perfect fit for the offensive system. Korver spreads the floor and keeps defenders honest on Teague drives. His defender cannot afford to leave him, so it allows Teague a better look at the rim. If the defender leaves him, it is an almost automatic bucket. 

    Korver does not force the issue, which is why he averages just over 12 points per game. He is a smart offensive player and works with what the defense gives him. This is his highest points-per-game average since the 2006-07 season and the best assist total of his career. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    12.32.93.914.39

    GradesA-

Jeff Teague

15 of 16

    Jeff Teague
    Jeff TeagueBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Jeff Teague came into the season on a brand new four-year deal worth $32 million. He was expected to take his game to the next level, and he has shown he is capable of being an elite point guard at times.

    The problem has been playing at that level on a consistent basis.

    As Teague goes, the Hawks go. He has been given the keys to the Hawks offense this season and has been very up and down. Teague recently had a four-game stretch where he never scored less than 26 points. However, he followed that up by failing to score over 10 in the next three games.

    When Teague is in an aggressive mindset, he looks like the perfect point guard for the future of the Hawks. When he is not, he has Hawks fans begging for Schroder to develop more quickly.

    He has improved in every season, but he has been too inconsistent with the talent he possesses. 

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGAPGRPGPER
    16.27.02.716.57

    Grade: B

Paul Millsap

16 of 16

    Paul Millsap
    Paul MillsapMark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Paul Millsap has been the bargain signing of the offseason. He signed with the Hawks for two years, $19 million. His production has easily surpassed that.

    This season, he made his first All-Star Game appearance as an Eastern Conference reserve. He has the highest PER of all Eastern Conference power forwards and has added the three-point shot to his scoring arsenal.

    Before this season, Millsap had never averaged over 0.5 three-point shots a game. He is currently shooting 2.9 per game and making 37 percent of them. 

    The Louisiana Tech alum has done all that he can to make up for the loss of Horford. He is averaging career highs in points, assists, steals and blocks.

     

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats

    PPGRPGBLKPGPER
    17.98.31.120.24

    Grade: A

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