30 to 16 to 1:(Part Seven) Gilding a Turd

Posted on 08/07/2010 by

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The Basics:

30 to 16 to 1. Based on a half baked notion, that since the true goal of any NBA season is to turn thirty teams into one champion and as we saw in my earlier piece, what wins in the regular season is not necessarily what  gets you the trophy, my 2010 Playoff Review series continues.

The Half-Baked Notion:

Simple (based on 2010 numbers):

  • The best two players accounted for 55% of a teams wins in the 2010 Playoffs.
  • The top three players are just below the pareto threshold
  • The next three (4,5,6th man) account for the rest of the positive win contribution about equally.
  • After that everybody else actually hurt teams in the playoffs.

The format will look at the best six players in the playoffs for each team, will look at how many wins their coach/injuries might have cost them and talk about their opportunities/drawbacks going forward (and if they’ve done anything in the off-season to address these). We will go from least productive to most productive team in the Playoff (based on the table that follows now):

This piece covers the worst of the 2nd Round Losers: the Atlanta Hawks.

Gilding a Turd

Yes, I used the classic colors for them. They're really cool.

  • The Storyline: In the 2008 Playoffs, the upstart Atlanta Hawks returned to the playoffs and pushed the eventual NBA champions, the Celtics, to seven games. They have proceeded to post better records each of the following years. But come playoff time when facing the elite of the league they have been thoroughly embarrassed. When free-agency came for their “star”, Hawks management gave us example on how to break your franchise. To paraphrase Herm Edwards, They decided to build on this but you can’t gild a turd.
  • The Good: Smith & Horford played like stars.
  • The Bad: Smith & Horford got their numbers against a decimated Bucks team. Joe Johnson continued his playoff disappearing act. Bibby got outplayed. This team has a competent frontcourt but nothing come crunch time in the backcourt.
  • The Coach: Woodson lost his job and deservedly so. The Hawks performance against the Magic was pathetic and I’m still not sure how they beat the Deer in the first round. At least here the Hawks were brave enough to change.
  • Needs: A time machine to go back two months and not make that contract offer. Young players in the backcourt who don’t make ridiculous amounts o fmoney.
  • Major Moves: Atlanta paid Joe Johnson a puchline contract. To put in perspective they  paid Johnson $20 million a year for 7 wins and they let Phoenix have Childress and his 10 wins for $7 million. So they could have had more wins at the same position for less money. They can at least be happy that Memphis signed Rudy Gay to an even more ridiculous contract and got them off the hook for worst postseason move ($16 million for 1.5 wins).
  • 2011 Outlook: The Hawks are a playoff team. They’re good enough to make it but I expect they’ll slip back because of age and the fact that the rest of the conference got better. They may end up fourth in their division. The biggest problem for them is that they’ve painted themselves into a corner. They won’t win as configured and they’ve tied up their capspace to an aging asset that is now virtually untradeable. They should ask the Wizards how well that plays out. 6th or 7th seed and a sweep by the Magic or Bulls.
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Posted in: NBA Playoff 2010