Atlanta Hawks seek to win championship without a superstar

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    The NBA has always been a superstar-driven league where championship teams are generally led by one or two of the league’s 10 best players.

    Championship dynasties – teams that have won at least three titles with the same primary leaders – are remembered for their one-name superstars.

    Those dynasties include George Mikan’s Lakers, Bill Russell’s Celtics, the Magic Johnson-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Lakers, the Larry Bird-Kevin McHale-Robert Parish Celtics, the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen Bulls, the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers and Tim Duncan’s Spurs.

    The 2014-15 Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks are an unusual championship contender; four of their players made the All-Star team (Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague) but none of their players are superstars. No Hawk would rightfully be considered to rank among the NBA’s top 10 players.

    Horford is a three-time All-Star but only once in his eight-season career has he been listed among the league’s best 15 players – All-NBA Third Team selection in 2010-11. First-time All-Star Korver is a 12-year journeyman who has played for four different teams and he has never averaged more than 14.4 points per game (PPG) in a full season.

    Millsap had seven solid seasons with the Utah Jazz before averaging a career-high 17.9 PPG in 2013-14, his first year with the Hawks. His numbers have dipped slightly this season but team success brings individual recognition and the coaches honored Millsap with his second consecutive All-Star selection. First-time All-Star Teague is a six-year veteran in his fourth year as a starter. He may now be blossoming into one of the league’s top point guards but prior to this season he likely would not have been on anyone’s top 10 list at his position.

    The Hawks are successful because their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. The Hawks rank sixth in scoring (103.4 PPG), fourth in points allowed (96.8 PPG), fourth in field goal percentage (.471) and fourth in defensive field goal percentage (.434). The Hawks are tied for second in three-pointers made and first in three-point field goal percentage.

    Can a well-balanced team with no superstars win an NBA championship? Two NBA championship teams defy the superstar-driven model. The 1979 Seattle SuperSonics featured All-Star center Jack Sikma, All-Star guard Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams, a future All-NBA guard who led Seattle with 19.2 PPG in the regular season and 26.7 PPG in the playoffs.

    No SuperSonic made the All-NBA Team in 1979, though Sikma finished a distant seventh in the MVP balloting after receiving a handful of votes. Johnson won the 1979 NBA Finals MVP and developed into an All-NBA guard; he was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame after winning two more championships, though he was the fourth option on the Bird-McHale-Parish Celtics title teams in 1984 and 1986.

    The 2004 Detroit Pistons only had one All-Star (Ben Wallace), though two years later that same nucleus sent four players to the All-Star Game (Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace). Ben Wallace made the 2004 All-NBA Second Team and he finished seventh in MVP voting, 154 points behind sixth place finisher Shaquille O’Neal. Wallace won the Defensive Player of the Year award four out of five years in the 2000s, but 2004 was the one year during that span when he did not receive that honour. Chauncey Billups earned the 2004 NBA Finals MVP despite not making the All-Star team that season.

    The Hawks’ biggest weakness, literally, is size. Their front court is skilful but small and the team ranks 25th in rebounding, with their opponents out-rebounding them by nearly three per game. Big teams like Chicago or Cleveland could give Atlanta trouble in the playoffs, when the game slows down and each possession is more critical because there are fewer possessions per game.

    A team driven by a superstar or superstars will probably eliminate the Hawks in the 2015 playoffs. But if the Hawks maintain their high level of offensive and defensive efficiency while continuing to mask their weakness on the boards perhaps they will join the very small list of teams that won an NBA championship despite not featuring at least one of the league’s 10 best players.

    David Friedman
    David Friedman

    David Friedman has covered the NBA for more than a decade, and in doing so, has interviewed nearly two dozen members of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players List. You can find his work at 20SecondTimeout.

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    The Crowd Says (42)

    • February 19th 2015 @ 10:29am
      astro said | February 19th 2015 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      The Hawks other problem…inexperience. Most of these guys have never been deep into the playoffs. Will be interesting to see how they handle it…

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2015 @ 10:37am
        Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        True, but they were one game from the second round last year, and really should have won game 6 to advance. I know it’s still a fair way away from the Finals or Conference Finals, but I’m actually hoping them losing that game 6 last year, then getting pumped in game 7, will actually be a nice lesson for them this year.

        • February 19th 2015 @ 1:15pm
          astro said | February 19th 2015 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          Yeah, Korver and Horford basically said exactly that on Simmons’ podcast this week…

    • Columnist

      February 19th 2015 @ 10:41am
      Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 10:41am | ! Report

      David, I’d add last year’s San Antonio Spurs as a team that won the title without a true superstar. No question Duncan will be remembered as one, and Parker and Ginobli as well in their own right, while Leonard may end up one, but that squad last year was built around the same qualities that make this Hawks one successful: teamwork, execution, patience and everyone knowing their roles.

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2015 @ 5:04pm
        David Friedman said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

        Ryan:

        The Hawks are similar to the Spurs and their Coach Mike Budenholzer used to be a Spurs assistant but the Spurs have more legit star power/superstar power than the Hawks. Without even considering that Duncan is a multiple MVP and Finals MVP who will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, it is enough to note that Parker has made the All-NBA Second Team the past three seasons, so a solid case could be made that he is among the 10 best players in the NBA.

        • Columnist

          February 19th 2015 @ 5:09pm
          Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

          Yeah, but that’s their careers, I’m talking about last season, in isolation.

          • Columnist

            February 19th 2015 @ 5:17pm
            David Friedman said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

            Parker made the All-NBA Second Team last season, so he was considered a top 10 player last season. In the article I stated that most championship teams have at least one top 10 player, so I would put the 2014 Spurs in that category. I don’t expect that any Hawk will make the All-NBA Second Team this year.

            • Columnist

              February 19th 2015 @ 5:45pm
              Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

              Perhaps our definitions of ‘superstars’ differ. It’s subjective, but I certainly don’t personally call Parker a ‘superstar’. But I take your point on him being top 10 last year. (Though, technically, he was tied for 12th best player last season, with teammate Duncan. Haha!)

    • February 19th 2015 @ 11:07am
      ohtani's jacket said | February 19th 2015 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      Minor quibble, but McHale was still a six man in ’84 and DJ ended up being the Celtics’ third leading scoring in the playoffs.

      The 1975 Warriors almost fit the bill. Yeah, Barry was a superstar, but it’s not too often that a superstar with a team built around him like that actually wins a title.

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2015 @ 11:48am
        Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        McHale may have been a 6th man, but he was still the number two option for the team, right?

        • February 20th 2015 @ 12:54am
          ohtani's jacket said | February 20th 2015 @ 12:54am | ! Report

          McHale played heavy minutes for a 6th man, but I think it’s a stretch to say he was the number two option on the team. He made the All-Star team because he was regarded as the best six man in the league during that period, but he didn’t become a starter until Maxell left. In the finals, DJ did a number on Magic defensively (to the point where people began referring to Magic as “Tragic” Johnson.) DJ was asked to provide the Celtics with a defensive playmaking presence they’d been missing, which I think is lost in this superstar argument. DJ was second team All-NBA for a number of years and an All-Star in ’85, so he was recognised as a valuable player. This whole top 10 thing I can’t agree with since the five best players in the league may be centers and only one can be chosen.

          • Columnist

            February 20th 2015 @ 7:31am
            Ryan O'Connell said | February 20th 2015 @ 7:31am | ! Report

            Well ‘number 2 option’ only refers to offense, and in 83/84, Bird led the team in shot attempts with 19.5, Parish was second with 14.3, and McHale was third at 12.9 (despite playing fewer minites). Those numbers don’t mean everything, but at worst you could say he was the third option. But geez, we’re really arguing over nothing here!

            • February 20th 2015 @ 3:57pm
              ohtani's jacket said | February 20th 2015 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

              Johnson was the second leading scorer on the Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals w/ 17.6 ppg. That jumped to 21.5 ppg when they made the switch to DJ on Magic midway through the series. I know Bird says DJ was the best guy he ever played with and the only guy as competitive about winning. Larry was the clear MVP of that series, but DJ was a redemption story as he’d gone through a career slump in Phoenix and was dogged by drug rumours. It was also revenge for losing to LA in the 1980 WCF. I have most of the ’84 series on tape. Maybe the height of 80s basketball.

              BTW, I meant to say All-NBA defence in the above post.

              • Columnist

                February 20th 2015 @ 4:01pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | February 20th 2015 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

                My first basketball memory is the Memorial Day Massacre!

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2015 @ 5:14pm
        David Friedman said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

        Ohtani’s Jacket:

        The three constants on those 1980s Celtics championship teams were Bird, McHale and Parish. Championship dynasties typically have such cornerstone players, even if the pecking order among those players shifts over time. McHale’s role steadily increased during the 1980s but even in 1984 he was already an All-Star. More to the point in terms of this article and my observation about championship teams generally having at least one top 10 player, Bird won the 1984 regular season MVP, so without even looking at McHale’s 1984 status the Celtics clearly had one of the 10 best players in the NBA.

        The 1975 Warriors lacked the overall talent of most championship teams but they unquestionably had a top 10 player; Rick Barry was probably the best player in the league that year, though his unpopularity among his peers cost him the regular season MVP (the players voted for the MVP at that time). Barry won the Finals MVP and the respected magazine Sport had a cover declaring “Rick Barry is Superman.”

        • February 20th 2015 @ 4:28pm
          ohtani's jacket said | February 20th 2015 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

          No matter how good Barry was, he was the only All-Star the Warriors had that year. The only other times that’s happened were the Bullets in ’78 (Elvin Hayes), the Rockets in ’94-95 (Olajuwon), the Spurs in ’03 (Duncan), the Pistons in ’04 (Wallace) and the Mavericks in ’11 (Nowitzki) and the Spurs last year (Parker.) Most NBA titles are won by teams with All-Star duos (and in some cases trios.)

          The Bullets losing in 1975 was one of the biggest chokes in NBA history. They were dismantled by the Warriors — out hustled and out rebounded. Wilkes did a number on Hayes. The Bullets couldn’t get out on the break. That choke tag stuck with the Bullets for years. How they lost to the Warriors is mystifying when they defeated the Celtics in the ECF, who were the reigning champs and had won 60 games. And the Bullets had three All-Stars that year — Hayes, Unseld and Phil Chenier!

          • February 21st 2015 @ 3:02am
            express34texas said | February 21st 2015 @ 3:02am | ! Report

            The 94 Rockets were favorites in each of their playoff series. They won 58 and were a deep team. The 95 Rockets underachieved during reg. season, but were actually better than the previous year. They added Drexler, who performed at an AS level. Their run in 95 was very impressive, but they were just as good as any other team. Similar to 09-10 Cavs, who led the leagues in wins each year. Mo Williams made 1 AS appearance, but barely. But, they were very deep, including having Varejao, a 2nd team all defense one year coming off the bench. James is flamed out in the playoffs more than anything as to the reason they didn’t win at least one title.

            While Duncan was the only Spurs AS in 2003, they had their core group all there in Parker and Ginobili; and Robinson was still contributing, plus they were a very deep team. Billups may have been the best player on that 04 Pistons team, not Ben; plus Rip/Sheed were at least borderline AS. They had 4 very strong players. The 11 Mavs had a very deep team as well, and several quality contributors to go along with Dirk. However, it was James loafing around in the finals being the main reason why the Heat didn’t win. Can’t have Jason Terry outplaying you and expect to win. Parker was arguably only the 3rd best Spur at least year. The 14 Spurs had no elite players, but 3 very good players, and Ginobili was still contributing well.

            • February 21st 2015 @ 5:10pm
              ohtani's jacket said | February 21st 2015 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

              The ’94-95 Rockets are perhaps my favourite team of all-time, but the ’94 side weren’t any deeper than their Western Conference rivals. With Jordan out of the league, whoever came through the ultra-competitive West could smell an opportunity to win a title. They were lucky the Nuggets stunned the Sonics, who’d knocked Houston out the year before, and obviously we know about their series comebacks over the Suns and Knicks. I love that Rockets side because of its bits and bobs players, but they weren’t anywhere as deep as the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons or Bulls dynasties that preceded them. Drexler definitely played an All-Star level, though, I agree with that, and actually they gave him an All-Star berth the following year as well as All-NBA third team honours in ’95. Having been an All-Star from ’88-94 and again ’96-97 it was an anomaly that he wasn’t in the game in ’95.

              The Spurs struggled in the ’03 playoffs. That was one of the ugliest championship runs in modern times. It wasn’t pretty and their depth wasn’t that great. Parker and Ginobili had only just entered the league and ther wasn’t a Big Three yet.

    • February 19th 2015 @ 2:14pm
      express34texas said | February 19th 2015 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Nobody has mentioned the obvious yet. The main reason why we see these non-superstar teams win a title every 10 years or so is because their competition is greatly lacking and in some cases only needing to win 3 rounds of playoffs instead of 4.

      Barry’s 75 Warriors only won 48 games, which wouldn’t even make the playoffs in today’s WC. They only had to win 3 rounds, plus were actually the #1 seed in the West. They did beat a 60-win team in the finals, but when you only have to win one true series, it can happen. The 79 Sonics led the West with 52 wins, only 2nd to Washington’s 54 for the entire league. They had 3 guys who were AS caliber. They didn’t have to face any true contenders and again only had to win 3 series. They were probably top team in league that year. The 04 Pistons had the chips fall for them. The Pacers won 61 games, no idea how with Jermaine O’Neal/MWP leading the way,and not exactly that scary of a team to face. And while Kobe struggled in the 04 Finals, the Lakers got absolutely nothing after Shaq/Kobe. And Shaq was showing his age. If Malone was healthy and Payton could actually make a wide open shot, Kobe/Shaq would’ve had a little less defensive attention, and maybe they squeak it out, but that wasn’t the case. A lot of these teams have much easier paths to the finals, usually in the East. If you only have to face 1 or maybe 2 legit teams, it’s so much easier. In the West for the past several years, teams will have to win 4 tough series to take home the title.

      The Spurs didn’t really have a superstar for 5-6 years until they won it last year. But, they had Pop, a very deep team, and at least 3-4 very good players at all times. They had the best record last year and a lot of experience. If OKC wasn’t banged up and/or James actually played up to his regular season standards, things could’ve been different. The Spurs are hard to figure out still. They could lose in 1st round to a #8 seed without their leading scorer, or could win it all. And #8 seed DAL pushed them to 7 games in 1st round last year as well.

      The Hawks this year don’t seem scary at all. Their top 6 players are playing well, but none of them would be AS in the West. After Schroder, they have almost nothing. Horford/Korver still shouldn’t have been AS even in the East. They deserve credit as a team for what they’ve done so far, but just can’t see them making it out of 2nd round even. But maybe in a weak conf., they can get into the finals and the WC winner will be tired out some, who knows.

      • February 19th 2015 @ 3:25pm
        astro said | February 19th 2015 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

        “The Hawks this year don’t seem scary at all.”

        That’s the whole point of this article! They aren’t scary! They don’t even have a guy who averages over 20, yet they have beaten Golden State, Memphis, the Clips, Portland (twice), OKC and the Rockets.

        As for the comment that Horford/Korver shouldn’t have been All-Stars in the East…well, I’m leaving that alone, but I’d love to hear who you think should have made it in ahead of them?

        • February 19th 2015 @ 4:15pm
          express34texas said | February 19th 2015 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

          Exactly. Those non-superstar title teams not only had an easier road to the title, but had guys you worried about. The 04 Pistons had 4 accomplished players, and a deep team. However, those mid 2000s Pistons greatly underachieved overall. Horford is having a down year, and probably would have no more than 1 AS for his career if top 24 guys were chosen. Teague has established himself as a low-level AS this year. Millsap has been a solid player for a few years now, but not really someone you’d say is a star. Korver is shooting amazingly well this year, but he has no business even being mentioned as an AS this year. I don’t quite get why so many people are clamoring for ATL to have 4 AS when GS only had 2, Memphis only had 1, etc. ATL will probably have to beat either CHI, CLE, or WSH in the 2nd round; so they’ll have to at least beat a somewhat respectable opponent in 2nd round. Hard to see that happening. And ATL also lost to the Lakers at home. Other than ATL, every other eastern team has its issues and been up and down at times. But, they’ll probably have to beat either CHI or CLE, that if/when either is at full strength and playing well look like true contenders, if not probably both, plus the WC champ. They will have a tougher road than these non-superstar title teams had, at least as it seems now. If the 04 Pistons had to go through a full-strength Lakers team, they most likely don’t win.

          Vucevic easily over Horford, and probably Love/Jefferson as well. There’s several who should be ahead of Korver. Rose/Knight being the 2 most obvious. Korver, while great at it, only does one thing on the court. He’s a one-trick pony, and has been his entire career.

          • Columnist

            February 19th 2015 @ 5:07pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

            Korver has no business being an All Star? He’s a one trick pony?

            I think you need to actually watch some Hawks, rather than looking at stats. He’s the most important Hawk, and every offensive possession they run, he’s central to. He’s the key to their success, even on plays when he doesn’t touch the ball. Granted, he’s not your traditional All Star, but given how weak the East is, he at least deserved to make the squad this season.

            And people are clamouring for 4 Atlanta All Stars for the simple reason they are in the East. If they played in the West, it would be a different story.

            Above all, they’re winning. And that should always be rewarded, seeming as it’s the reason they play the games.

            • February 20th 2015 @ 4:21am
              express34texas said | February 20th 2015 @ 4:21am | ! Report

              I’ve seen Korver play plenty of times. At age 33, he’s not going to suddenly turn himself into a star player after years of being a full-out role player who mostly came off the bench. Opposing defenses aren’t going to worry more about him than Millsap, Horford, or Teague. He relies completely on his teammates for his looks. There’s no way he’s even remotely better than Rose or Knight to name just 2 guys. And very few teams don’t have at least one really good shooter who opposing defenses can’t leave wide open.

              I disagree that just because your team wins that you should be rewarded, at least with individual awards. The AS game isn’t a team game, it’s individual game. The ATL Hawks aren’t one of the two teams playing in the AS game. If Korver was on the Sixers, nobody would say anything about him being an AS. It shouldn’t matter in the slightest what team you play for whether you’re an AS or not, or MVP, etc.

              • Columnist

                February 20th 2015 @ 8:07am
                Ryan O'Connell said | February 20th 2015 @ 8:07am | ! Report

                “Opposing defenses aren’t going to worry more about him than Millsap, Horford, or Teague. He relies completely on his teammates for his looks.”

                That’s just pain wrong. Korver is the number one player opposing teams worry about when they play the Hawks (this season). It comes with the territory of hitting threes at 50%. Plenty of coaches have gone on record to say just that. It’s fact.

                As for relying on teammates, that’s what makes the Hawks great anyway. I’d counter that Teague, Hordford and Millsap wouldn’t be as effective without Korver. That’s what makes the Hawks great – teamwork.

                Space is the single most important ingredient to successful modern-day NBA offenses, and Korver provides the Hawks with a lot of theirs. He combines the threat of his outside shooting with supremely intelligent movement off the ball, and great passing. He also gets a lot of ‘hockey assists’, or creates the room for the driving of Teague, and post play of Horford and Millsap.

                Considering the impact he has on the Hawks, if you’re going to reward their success with All-Star selections, he deserves to get picked.

                To be honest, I can totally understand why he shouldn’t be an all-star. He’s not a traditional star.
                It would be no travesty if he wasn’t selected. However, it was nice to see a nod given to super-intelligent basketball over stats and flashy play.

                Yet it’s not some token, romantic decision: Korver is third in the league – and first among perimeter players – in offensive rating at 128. He’s also thirteen in Win Shares. Combine that with his historic 50/50/90 shooting season, and that’s some impressive numbers.

                If Knight was picked over him, that would be fine. He’s having a great season, and considering the Bucks injuries, he deserved an All Star nod, potentially over Korver. But Rose?? He’s missed 11 games, is putrid on D, has shot too much, and has only hit a tick over 40%. That’s an All Star?

              • February 20th 2015 @ 8:59am
                express34texas said | February 20th 2015 @ 8:59am | ! Report

                Well, go ahead and disagree about Korver then. He’s never been close to great, and he’s not going to suddenly be great at age 33. Korver shot ridiculously well in 2014, and the Hawks finished with 38 wins. The main differences this year is Horford is playing the entire season and Schroder has improved a lot. Actually, on paper, the 2014 Hawks look better. Still defies logic that they’re doing this well this year. Nobody was clamoring about Korver being an AS last year. Why? Because his team wasn’t that good and he was obviously wasn’t/isn’t a star. His teammates have picked it up this year, only reason. Nobody really believes a 12.7ppg full-out role players is a #1 option. Millsap was just as good if not better before ATL. Horford made 2 AS team before playing Korver, and now just made his 3rd AS this year(1st in 3 seasons with Korver). So no, Korver isn’t making his teammates better. If anything, it’s vice versa. Yes, it’s teamwork. Individually, none of them are great. Collectively, at least so far, they are. But, hard to see that lasting throughout the playoffs.

                Wait, you’re saying Rose is putrid on D, and implying Korver isn’t? There isn’t a GM in the league who would take Korver over Rose. You’re actually serious about that one? Time will tell. If Korver is truly an AS, and the Hawks truly have 4, then there’s no excuse for them not making the finals at the very worse.

              • Columnist

                February 20th 2015 @ 9:57am
                Ryan O'Connell said | February 20th 2015 @ 9:57am | ! Report

                If I was a GM, I’d take Rose over Korver. But that’s not the question. We’re not building an NBA roster, we’re picking this season’s All Stars.

                And considering Rose’s knee injuries, and the new age importance of three point shooting and spacing, I dare say the odd GM actually may take Korver.

                But cool, let’s agree to disagree.

                I’ll go with the guy that actually DID end up making the All Star team, is having a historic shooting season, is third in the league (and first among perimeter players) in offensive rating, and plays on the team with the second best record.

                You, won’t.

              • February 20th 2015 @ 3:08pm
                express34texas said | February 20th 2015 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                This season, not the future. Nobody is taking Korver over Rose this season even. Offensive rating, win shares, etc. can’t actually tell you who’s better. Korver might be good, but 3rd best offensive player in the game? That should tell you all you need to know about that stat. And Boozer was a top 5 defensive player with the bulls according to at least one defensive advanced stat. Now if Korver could actually average 20ppg, we’d have something to talk about, but he’s not even close to that.

                Interesting how you didn’t respond to any of the differences from last year to this year. Korver led the league in shooting last year, too. Yet nobody could care about that. Every legit AS can carry a team at least for a few games, and Korver can’t even remotely do this. His defense is awful, is very unathletic, and can’t help out his team in any other area other than shooting, which he relies almost 100% on his teammates to set him up. I definitely wouldn’t go with this guy, you got that straight.

                The Hawks are a good story so far, that’s it. They’ve never really been a great team, and now they somehow are so far this season. They’ve somehow figured out how to play great team ball through 50-55 games, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their top players are suddenly better players. Again, time will tell. If Korver is truly an AS like you say, then ATL should make the finals at worst.

              • Columnist

                February 20th 2015 @ 3:36pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | February 20th 2015 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

                “Nobody is taking Korver over Rose this season.”

                That’s a fairly definitive statement. Have you spoken to every single human being on the planet, have you?

                “Now if Korver could actually average 20ppg.”

                Ah yes, the ’20 old points per game means you’re a good player” theory. Sadly, it’s a little outdated.

                “Every legit AS can carry a team at least for a few games.”

                That’s YOUR personal definition of an All Star, not some set-in-stone criteria for selection. And define ‘carrying’? Could Dennis Rodman carry a team offensively? No way. Does that mean he doesn’t deserve his All Star selections?

                ” . . . His defense is awful, (he’s) very unathletic . . .”

                His D ain’t great, I’ll give you that. But he’s a pretty good team defender. And if being a bad defender makes you ineligible, then how come Melo has gone to the All Star game 8 times? As for being un-athletic, what the hell does that have to do with anything?

                As for the difference between Korrver this season and last, let’s start with 3pt fg% shall we? He’s up a full 5% on last year. That’s more than a significant raise. His True Shooting Percentage? Up a staggering 8%.

                He’s been better this year. The Hawks success isn’t solely because of him, but he’s been a large part of it.

                I’m a fan of rewarding winning basketball, considering that’s the reason they play the game. That doesn’t mean every Hawk should make the All Star team, but in a weak conference in a weak year, it’s been nice to see an intelligent, non-traditional star get a nod. His selection has been a perfect storm of mitigating factors, and he therefore made the team this season, and he deserves it.

              • February 21st 2015 @ 2:46am
                express34texas said | February 21st 2015 @ 2:46am | ! Report

                Actually, if you look back at 20ppg scorers, they are largely the top players in the league, and that along with mpg are the best ways to determine top players by looking at stats. No matter how efficiently Korver is, he still doesn’t add that much to his team. He’s such a great shooter, but he doesn’t shoot enough or more accurately isn’t able to shoot enough based on his many limitations.

                I didn’t say carry a team offensively. I said ‘carry a team.’ Rodman was a weak AS 2x in his career, and not sure if he even deserved those 2. But anyway, he could carry a team at times through his defense and rebounding.

                You’re really dismissing defense entirely? I didn’t say bad defense makes you ineligible. Melo is below average defensively, but at times can play very good defense. Korver usually tries defensively, but his lack of athleticism more than anything doesn’t allow him to play good defense. He just can’t. Melo brings many more things to the table than Korver does as well. Melo rebounds better, is at least somewhat of a playmaker, and is a great scorer. He can carry his team a lot of the time on his own, which Korver has never shown at any point of his career.

                It’s only nice to see someone who actually deserves to be an AS actually be an AS. Korver and the Hawks are a good story, nothing more right now.

              • Columnist

                February 21st 2015 @ 8:22am
                Ryan O'Connell said | February 21st 2015 @ 8:22am | ! Report

                So Rodman didn’t deserve his All Star selections? Ok then. We’ll just leave it there.

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2015 @ 5:24pm
        David Friedman said | February 19th 2015 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

        The NBA had fewer teams in 1975, so one could argue that the competition was better at that time because there were fewer roster spots open. Of course, one could counter that argument by pointing out that some of the best pro basketball players in the world in 1975 played in the ABA instead of the NBA. The bottom line is that it is hard to compare a team from 1975 to a team from 2015.

        One thing that has held true over various eras is that it usually takes at least one superstar/top 10 player to win a title. Regardless of what one thinks of the 1975 Warriors or the 1975 NBA, the 1975 Warriors clearly had a top 10 player and that makes them a lot different from the 2015 Hawks, the 2004 Pistons and the 1979 Sonics.

        • February 20th 2015 @ 9:10am
          express34texas said | February 20th 2015 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          True to an extent. They still only won 48 games. They were a worse team than the 04 Pistons or 79 Sonics, at least on paper. The 75 Warriors are still a bizarre title team. I’d rather have 3 AS-caliber player like 79 Sonics rather than just 1 superstar like the 75 Warriors, depending on how good the role players are on each team. And Ben Wallace made 2nd team all-nba in 04. He’s at least a borderline top 10 player that year. He made 3 2nd teams and 2 3rd team from 02-06, so he wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

          • February 20th 2015 @ 4:34pm
            ohtani's jacket said | February 20th 2015 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

            The ’78 Bullets and ’79 Sonics only really got their championships because of Bill Walton’s injuries. In ’77-78, Portland were 50-10 before Walton went down. Even in a decade of parity like the 70s, a healthy Walton would have created a Portland dynasty, IMO.

    • February 19th 2015 @ 4:38pm
      Joe said | February 19th 2015 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

      Theres a team in the NBA every year that over achieves in the regular season but cant take it up a notch in the playoffs because they’re maxing out during the 82 game stretch
      Atlanta is that team this season
      They’ll probably win their 1st round matchup because it will be against some crap 36-46 team in the East,maybe the Hornets or Nets
      But after that they wont beat either the Bulls Cavs or Wizards in a best of 7 series

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2015 @ 4:57pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | February 19th 2015 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

        This is true, but what are the Hawks maxing out? It’s not like they’re riding the hot hand of an explosive scorer, or have had an easy schedule. They’re just extremely well coached, and play smart basketball; two qualities I’d certainly be willing to back come playoff time.

        • February 20th 2015 @ 9:38am
          astro said | February 20th 2015 @ 9:38am | ! Report

          Yeah, I thought they were sharing their minutes pretty well…they’re surprisingly deep.

          Anyway, trying to figure out what just happened at this trade deadline…38 players traded!?!?!?

    • February 20th 2015 @ 12:15pm
      joe said | February 20th 2015 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

      Using Atlanta Hawks & great in the same sentence is laughable.It diminishes the use of “great” which I see a lot on this forum when referring to teams & certain players who are good but not great.
      In NBA terms the Spurs have been great,Kobe is an all time great,etc,etc.
      The Atlanta Hawks are not great.They’re a solid team who has won absolutely nothing & dont have even a top 20 player on its roster.
      So lets ease up on the “great” reference when talking about average teams & players

      • February 20th 2015 @ 3:14pm
        express34texas said | February 20th 2015 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        Mostly true, Joe. Hard to really see ATL doing much come playoff time. The 04 Pistons may not have had any top 20 players, though Ben probably was. However, Ben could take over defensively. Billups could take over offensively at times, as could Sheed. This isn’t really the case with this year’s Hawks. And Korver is pretty much worthless if his man stays on him, and even if not, he’s not kiling the opposition. Opposing defenses can live with his 12.7ppg as a 4th option even if he’s shooting amazing. Through 54 games, the Hawks are great, though. They’re 43-11, 2nd best record in the league. As far as closing out the season and what happens in the playoffs remains to be seen.

        • Columnist

          February 20th 2015 @ 3:39pm
          Ryan O'Connell said | February 20th 2015 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

          “Korver is pretty much worthless if his man stays on him.”

          That might be the stupidest (basketball-related) thing I’ve ever heard.

          That is actually WHAT makes Korver valuable!

          • February 21st 2015 @ 2:51am
            express34texas said | February 21st 2015 @ 2:51am | ! Report

            You could say that about anyone. Korver can basically only spotup shoot. He only shoots 8 FGA/game. It’s not like he’s a Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton running around avoiding defenders and constantly getting great looks as well as both of them being able to create for themselves some. If he could, he’d shoot and score some. It’s unfortunate you have “Expert” by your name, Ryan. True stars can contribute in several way to their team’s success. Korver can’t. But, keep dreaming, I guess.

            • Columnist

              February 21st 2015 @ 8:39am
              Ryan O'Connell said | February 21st 2015 @ 8:39am | ! Report

              In the modern NBA, spacing and shooting have become more important than ever, making those extremely valuable qualities. If you happen to be the very best at the qualities now deemed to be the most important, that’s makes you a valuable player.

              You say true stars can contribute in a number of ways, but that’s just your definition of a star. There is no set criteria for selecting All Stars teams. This year, Korver has been been extremely valuable to the second best team in the league, and therefore, by various people’s definition, a ‘star’.

              Granted, not a traditional star, and in a stronger conference, in a stronger season, he wouldn’t make the All Star game. But it is this season, and it is the East.

              You can question me being an ‘expert’ all you like, that’s fine. But Korver went to the All Star game. It happened. And it happened based of the Eastern Conference coaches selecting him as the next player after Wade got hurt. I’d suggest they know a thing or two about basketball, but I guess you disagree.

              • February 21st 2015 @ 5:11pm
                ohtani's jacket said | February 21st 2015 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

                Something else that’s happening is the Hawks cooling off.

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