Backcourt regression. A regression in some capacity was largely expected after a season of unprecedented success the year before. Where the Atlanta Hawks have seemed to have had their biggest shortcomings in 2015-16 has been in the play of the backcourt.
Neither point guard Jeff Teague or shooting guard Kyle Korver will represent the Hawks again in the NBA All-Star. While Al Horford was a snub in the frontcourt, both Teague and Korver weren’t really even in the discussion, as neither has played up to last season’s level.
Korver is coming off two offseason surgeries to his elbow and broken ankle, which has hindered his once lethal stroke from three. Teague does show spurts of star potential, but isn’t as consistent at point guard for some reason. Atlanta will need its backcourt in general to play better down the stretch to orchestrate another deep run in the NBA Playoffs.
Team struggles to close out games. It’s hard to comprehend what is causing the Atlanta Hawks’ lack of focus late in games. Sometimes the club will take its foot off the gas and let inferior teams back into games. While this did happen in 2014-15, this year’s team doesn’t exactly take control of games in crunch time situations.
Being able to close out games is a crucial part in advancing in the NBA Playoffs. National pundits argued heavily against the Atlanta Hawks last season down the stretch because they felt that the Hawks lacked a go-to late game scorer. Perhaps they are right? Though at times either Teague or power forward Paul Millsap emerge as that guy, it’s not a forgone conclusion that Atlanta will seize control late in games with either starter in the final minutes.
Inconsistent three-point shooting. Last season, the Atlanta Hawks were arguably the best team shooting the basketball from long distance. While they weren’t as flashy from the perimeter as say the Golden State Warriors, the 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks could decimate opponents from beyond the arc.
In 2015-16, Atlanta has regressed to 19th in the league in three-point percentage and it has hurt to offense considerably. The Hawks were the No. 6 rated offense in the NBA last season, in part because of their great three-point shooting.
Now Atlanta enters their final 27 games of the 2015-16 NBA regular season with the 15th rated offense in the game because they just aren’t feeling it from three like they did a year ago. Defensively, this team is still great, but living and dying by the three ball isn’t helping the offense in 2015-16.
Next: Three Questions for Second Half