Advanced Scouting: Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs


Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST December 10, 2010

SRS ranks:

Atlanta: 2.13 (11th)
San Antonio: 8.57 (2nd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective December 6, 2010) and (effective December 8, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

Don’t get caught up with Joe Johnson’s max contract, but also don’t be fooled by his poor adjusted plus minus for the last two seasons. His adjusted plus minus over the past half dozen seasons averages about 4-5 points per 100 possessions and, although his production and efficiency are reduced this year, his injury still hurts the Hawks.

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Bibby,Johnson,Williams,Smith,Horford +22 in 223 minutes
Bibby,Ja.Crawford,Johnson,Smith,Horford +23 in 92 minutes
Bibby,Johnson,Smith,Horford,Collins +30 in 43 minutes
Teague,Ja.Crawford,Evans,Powell,Pachulia +6 in 41 minutes
Bibby,Evans,Williams,Smith,Horford -20 in 32 minutes
Bibby,Ja.Crawford,Williams,Smith,Horford +5 in 25 minutes

The last three lineups are the Hawks most prominent lineups for 2010-11 without Joe Johnson. The Hawks expect Johnson to miss the remainder of the month.

Preferred method to create shots: Post up Al Horford

With Joe Johnson sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks, Al Horford becomes the Hawks best option to create scores for the Hawks. Horford continues improving and currently ranks 3rd in the NBA in PER, Win Shares, Offensive Wins Shares and Offensive Rating. Although his FG% of 55% on jump shots is sure to return to closer to his career rate (low 40% range), Horford will remain a strong offensive force.

In addition to an increase in production from Horford, Altanta’s new coach Larry Drew has altered the Hawks offense to include more movement without the ball, better passing and a decreased focus on isolation sets.

Although it’s tough to say Atlanta’s offense is better at this point in the season, the effects are clear (they ranked 2nd in Offensive Rating last year and rank 8th for the current year). Atlanta’s rate of assists per field goal increased from 56% last year to 63% in the current year. Although no player, sans Johnson, is averaging more than 4 assists per game, 6 players are averaging 3.5 per 36 minutes or greater.

Additionally, the Hawks will run several pick-and-roll plays through Jamal Crawford. Crawford has been very effective running the pick-and-roll over the past couple seasons.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Force Horford left

Last year, according to Synergy Sports, Al Horford went left 67 times in post defined possessions (more concisely, he “turned his shoulder right”). He scored only 0.64 points per possession (PPP) in these instances. He went right 192 times, scoring 1.05 PPP. This season, Horford has favored the right side to an even greater degree, going left four times as often as he goes right.

The hook shot is Al Horford’s go-to move in the post. Even when he goes left, he is often just looking to finish spinning right. Horford also likes to face up, but he will once again tend to go to his right in these instances because his fadeaway is not as effective as his hook shot.

Perhaps Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair are good options to combat Horford’s blend of strength and athleticism.

Defensive Weakness: PnR Trans

The Atlanta Hawks struggled defending the pick-and-roll last year against the Magic and this year has not proven to be any better. The 95.5 points per 100 possessions allowed on pick-and-roll possessions are nearly five more than any other team, other than the Washington Wizards. Among players who have most consistently struggled defending this play, Mike Bibby is likely the safest target for the Spurs to attack on this play type.

Several teams have run effectively against the Hawks. With the success the Spurs have seen on the break this season, they should definitely also look to push the ball in this one.

Tony Parker could be crucial offensively in this game. His ability to score off the pick and roll could provide significant value when he is on the floor opposite Bibby. Additionally, Parker is the Spurs most consistent weapon on the fast break.


Atlanta is off to a 15-8 start. However, the Hawks constructed this record against one of the softest schedules in the league. Additionally, will have to visit Texas without the help of Joe Johnson. Atlanta certainly has the potential to be tough and maybe even steal one here; but once again, the Spurs are the better team.

  • jwalt

    Atlanta is talented and always a threat, but this is a team that the Spurs are a lot brighter than. Look for SA to find a way to control the game. (Though the 8 point spread seems a little high to me).

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  • ThatBigGuy

    @ Scott

    “Appropriate Spurs counter: Force Horford left

    Last year, according to Synergy Sports, Al Horford went left 67 times in post defined possessions (more concisely, he “turned his shoulder right”). He scored only 0.64 points per possession (PPP) in these instances. He went right 192 times, scoring 1.05 PPP. This season, Horford has favored the right side to an even greater degree, going left four times as often as he goes right.”

    So by making Horford “go left,” you mean force him to turn to his right shoulder, hence making him shoot a left handed hook shot? If so, the proper term would be to make him “turn to his right shoulder.”

    So my interpretation of this paragraph is as follows:

    Last year
    Left handed shots (turning to right shoulder): 67 times @ .64 PPP.
    Right handed shots (turning to left shoulder): 192 times @ 1.05 PPP.

    This year
    Horford has turned to his left shoulder (shot right handed) 4 times as much as he has turned to his right shoulder (shot left handed).

    So, our defense should overplay his left shoulder, making him turn to his right shoulder in order to shoot a left handed shot.

    Since post players generally play with their back to the basket and make a lot of lateral moves, you shouldn’t refer to the hand that shot the ball, but which shoulder they turned to the basket. For instance, Timmy likes to post up on the right block, dribble into the paint (using his left hand), turn to his right shoulder, and shoot a fading right hander. He shoots it with his right hand, but it should be referred to as a right shoulder shot.

    So, in conclusion, we need to make Horford turn to his right shoulder in order to make him shoot left handed, since he obviously doesn’t like to go that direction.

  • ITGuy

    Here is what one Atlanta newspaper has to say about the Spurs.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • DorieStreet

    I hope we can avoid a scoring drought this game. That lapse in the second quarter at the halfway mark (although the team recovered in the last 1:42) was brutal- 1 TO & 7 missed shots (2 layups, 3 other shots less than 10 feet, only 2 3pt attempts). Lets keep the homestand perfect!

  • jwalt

    Does anyone remember Manu’s 24 straight points against the Hawks a few years ago? An amazing 5 minutes of bb.

  • JT in austin

    Man, you find some great data. Go Spurs Go!

  • rjimenez

    i remember going to a home game against the hawks 2 yrs ago. manu hit a step back 3 late to seal the game. i remember because i was 2nd row. i had a closeup tv spot and even made it on local and national televison (nba tv highlights). lol. way to sign joe johnson to a panic induced, overblown contract, hotlanta.

  • Scott Sereday


    If memory serves, your reasoning for Synergy’s definition is correct. It is made to be from the defender’s perspective, so which way you go from where you set up on the post with your back to the basket. Perhaps I was trying too hard to provide readers with an easier idea of what to visually expect.

    Also, just because Horford goes left, doesn’t mean he takes a left handed shot. In fact, he usually takes a right handed fade away in the rare instance he goes the other way.

  • DorieStreet

    @ jwalt

    I remember that–and how about that game vs. the Hawks a few seasons ago on MLK Day. It was a 1pm start and the Spurs were not used to that (Hawks play on MLK Day every year in the afternoon). They only scored 5–FIVE– points in the 1st quarter, but came back and won. I also recall Al Harrington (now with the Nuggets) scoring 31 points in the first half against the Spurs, but did not even get to 40 in another loss.

  • spurcase

    Nice article, very complimentary of the Spurs. However, it is clear that the writer is just rehashing what he has seen of the Spurs in years past, and actually knows very little about this season’s Spurs. He only mentions the big three and totally ignores the fact that the Spurs have a bunch of new players added over the last two years. He does not even mention Jefferson, Blair, Hill, or Bonner who have had so much to do with the Spurs winning this season.

  • rob

    Thanks ITGuy.

    Nice read. Greatest compliment any opposing player, coach, or outside writer can declare about the Spurs. Recognized as a great TEAM oriented organization.

    This will be a good game. Don’t be suprised if it is a close game down to the wire.

    But a another blowout by the Spurs would be nice too.

  • r.l.manuel

    19-3 baby

  • r.l.manuel

    good game atlanta
    spurs 19-3 baby
    go spurs go!

  • LPspursFan

    19-3…looked pretty sloppy for 3 quarters but then turned it on the 4th. How about RJ and DeJuan down the stretch? Go Spurs Go!!

  • grego

    ^Also Hill, played great (+20 – leader of the +/-). Hill and Parker made it so that Manu could sit.

    Best stat of the game:
    Duncan 27.5 minutes
    Manu 24.5 minutes
    Dice 14 minutes

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