Hawks Looking Like Nuggets-lite
In losing their home opener to Houston, the new-look Hawks gave fans their first look at their offensive attack without Joe Johnson. With a starting backcourt of Jeff Teague and Devin Harris pairing with frontcourt mainstays Josh Smith and Al Horford, the Hawks were astonishingly fast and effective in transition. Their pace after one game put them in a tie at the top of the league and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Hawks stay a in the Top 3 all season by continuing to play a lineup like that.
But much like the Nuggets in the West, the Hawks effectiveness diminished when the game slowed down in the halfcourt. And despite his solid stat line, Smith in particular had trouble finding a rhythm with the primary culprit being a lack of space. Outside of Kyle Korver, Atlanta’s rotation on Friday night was bereft of shooters and saw Smith drop to the three on a handful of occassions to form a bigger frontcourt with Horford and Zaza Pachulia.
However, Saturday’s game against the Thunder was a completely different story. Harris moved to the bench and sharpshooter Anthony Morrow logged 14 minutes (after not playing against Houston) as Smith sat out due to a sprained ankle. Atlanta’s pace dropped, but their overall efficiency improved by featuring more lineups with players capable of spreading the floor.
Through two games, it’s clear the Hawks have the personnel to play two contrasting — but effective — styles of offense. Which one they choose to utilize more going forward will be worth monitoring.
Greivis Vasquez the new old Kidd?
After two relatively nondescript years to begin his career, Vasquez has started off the 2012 season looking like a player ready to establish himself as bona fide lead guard. His shooting numbers still leave plenty to be desired but he has without a doubt played huge role in the Hornets surprisingly competitive start.
In a some of ways, his game compares favorably to the older (think 2009) version of Jason Kidd. Though Vasquez isn’t an elite passer, he’s still very good, and his 6’6” frame allows him to see the shifting actions of the defense behind the play much better than traditionally sized point guards.
Those smaller guards may sometimes need more time and dribbles to create angles to pass to an open teammate. As with Kidd, Vasquez uses his size to make up for his lack of foot speed, simply recognizing the play early and utilizing his clever arsenal of passes — particularly the power skip pass — to find open teammates for easy shots. If he can ever fix his broken jumper, Vasquez has a chance to be a very impactful offensive player.
Jack key to Warriors playoff hopes
Though the health status of Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry dominate this narrative, it would a major oversight not to mention the importance of Jarrett Jack.
Jack is essential to the Warriors success as he makes for a perfect pairing with Curry in the backcourt. For all his wonderful ability, Curry has yet to find a balance between seeking his own offense and running the team. In the Warriors first game in particular, their offense looked better with Jack at the helm simply because he consistently got the team into their sets and delivered the ball to the right place.
Playing the two together frees Curry of the responsibility of running the team and allows him to focus on what he does best: using screens on and off the ball to score. Particularly with Brandon Rush now lost for the season, Jack and Curry should be seeing lots of time on the floor together.