Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hawk a Loogie

The Atlanta Hawks are a terrible, terrible basketball team. Truly terrible. Even after a rare victory over the 76ers last night, their record remains a dreadful 3-14, better than only the equally terrible Chicago Bulls and the embarrassingly terrible New Orleans Hornets. Still, fantasy players need to keep up on these crappy teams. In fact, they need to keep up even more so, because this is where there’s an advantage to be had. I mean, everyone knows that Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Brad Miller and Peja are going to be the guys to have value on the Kings. Everyone knows that Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson are the guys with value on the Suns. But on ignored teams like the Hawks, you can still find players with value.

We’ll start with the two guys who everyone knows about. No matter what happens with the Hawks, Antoine Walker will have plenty of value over the rest of the season, barring an injury. As expected, he’s back over 40 mpg, and should continue to see that much time because he’s one of the few legitimate NBAers on the team. He’ll continue to be a solid 22/9/4 player who gives you 2 3s, a steal and half a block a game. He’s managed to keep his FG% respectable so far, but now it’s down to 43% and dropping fast. If he can keep it above 40% for much longer, consider it a surprise. And then there’s his free throw shooting. This is a guy who shot 74% from the line as recently as 2001. But he’s barely making half of his shots from the charity stripe now. And that will kill you. But there’s not much you can. In any case, expect more of the same from Antoine.

Also expect more of the same from Al Harrington. And that means solid production, but perhaps not as much as some people were hoping for. We warned to be realistic when dealing with Harrington; after all, he did average 30 mpg his last two seasons in Indiana and had marginal value at best. Granted he was the #3 option at best there, but he’s never shown a real ability to hit 3s, get steals or get blocks, and that will keep anyone from having serious fantasy value. He’s a solid 17/7/3.5 players, but he’s having free throw woes of his own this year, as the career 73% shooter is at 63%. It’s possible that Harrington’s numbers will see a slight jump as the season progresses, but he does not help in any one category, and is just not all that helpful.

So now let’s get into the dregs. We’ve mentioned Tony Delk so many times on this site, you’d think that we own about 150 of his rookie cards or something. But we’ll keep doing it. He’s not a true point guard, but when Kenny Anderson is the only true point guard on your roster, that shouldn’t stop you from seeing time at the point. Kenny Anderson has nothing left. Nothing. The final straw might have been last night, when he had just an assist to show for his 10 minutes. Delk wasn’t anything special in his 31 minutes, with 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting with just 2 boards and 2 assists, but the team did win. If Delk does get the starting nod, don’t expect tons of assists. He’s never been a great passer, and anything more than 4 apg would be gravy. But Delk is someone who fires 3s. So far this season nearly 40% of his attempts from the field have been from long range. That is a serious number. He’s also shooting 89% from the line and getting there a respectable 3 times per game. Again, he’s not going to set the world on fire, but with injuries mounting, he could be a decent fill-in.

Boris Diaw could also be in line for an increase in minutes. And while we preach that minutes are just about the most important thing, it doesn’t always turn into value. Players like Ira Newble, Bruce Bowen and Trenton Hassell are defensive-minded players who can be on the court for 30 minutes and do nothing for fantasy teams. Diaw is a new member of this group. For a defensive stopper, he sure doesn’t get steals (just 7 on the year) and he just does nothing for you. Here’s one guy who might not even be worth a roster spot with 40 mpg.

Josh Smith has made his presence felt the last three games. In those three contests he has played a total of 51 minutes and accumulated the following numbers – 31 points (on 12-of-19 shooting from the field, 7-of-8 from the line), 20 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks. Not bad at all. It’s unlikely that the rookie who turned 19 on Sunday night will be able to have any real value this year, but on a team as bad as the Hawks you never know. He won’t unseat Al Harrington as the starting small forward, which is the only position he can really play, so his PT will be limited. Still, in terms of pure talent, he’s got plenty of it. Even the deepest of leagues don’t need to worry about him now, but know that he’s got promise.

If only coach Mike Woodson liked Predrag Drobjnak. The Hawks have a collection of true stiffs in the middle – Jason Collier, Jelani McCoy, the ancient Kevin Willis – yet Drobnjak still can’t get consistent PT. In the victory against Philly the Drobber got a season high 33 minutes and delivered with 20 points, 9 boards, a block and a 3. Not bad, especially for a center. Maybe this will finally get him off the bench sooner, or even into the starting lineup. If that does happen, the Drobber would be worth a flyer. He might be able to be similar to Marc Jackson if things went extremely well. Good scoring, decent boards, no blocks. The Drobber can drop in a 3 once in a while, too.

Josh Childress had a four-game stretch last month where it looked like he was emerging as a viable fantasy player, but just as quickly he’s back to irrelevance. Expect him to have more of a role than he’s had in the past few, but to still be far too inconsistent to count on. He’s one of those guys who you might be able to plug in there for a game or two while he’s on a hot streak, and hope he can come up with some steals (he had 9 in two games last month), but can be released at the first sign of trouble. As things stand now, he shouldn’t be near your team.

So there it is, more than you ever could have possibly wanted to know about the Hawks. Besides Antoine and Al, none of these guys will give you consistent production. But there will be times when some of the guys above will get hot and will be worth using. Just because they play for a crappy team, the numbers still count the same.

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