“It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” said DJay and Skinny in the cinematic masterpiece Hustle and Flow. That same analogy can be applied to the NBA. The Hawks have adequate size but seemingly lack the fight.
We are all aware of the Hawks dreadful defensive rating (112.6). But what’s worse than being a poor defensive team is lacking effort. In fact, that’s one of the worst criticisms you can level at a team.
After the Wizards loss on Friday night, Coach Lloyd Pierce called out his team’s effort. Chris Kirschner of The Athletic reported the postgame rant on twitter.
Lloyd Pierce on the lack of competitiveness for the Hawks, in particular getting dominated on the offensive glass tonight. His full answer: pic.twitter.com/zZE4ZdPzqR
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) January 11, 2020
A quick look at the NBA Advanced Stats website shows a team that is hesitant on 50/50 balls. The Hawks are bottom-4 in the league in recovering loose balls (7.2 per game). Some of that is luck and happenstance, but it could be attributed to a lack of hustle.
Speaking of hitting the floor, this team has only totaled a staggering 16 charges drawn for the entire season. Only five teams in the league have drawn fewer charges. Again, charges don’t equal wins – but it’s not a good look for a team that’s struggling to compete on a nightly basis.
Additionally, opponents are cashing in on points off turnovers, fast-break points, and 2nd-chance points (the Hawks are near the bottom of the league in all three categories). Struggling with turnovers and rebounds is understandable, but getting back on defense should not be an issue for such a young team.
Obviously, this is a small slice of the problems plaguing the Hawks this season. The bigger statistical picture shows a team unable to rebound and stop perimeter scorers.
Without making trades, there is little the Hawks can do to fix their issues this season. But one thing every player who steps on the court can do immediately to make a difference is committing to outworking their opponent.