Tag Archives: Omer Asik

A look at the Atlanta Hawks’ schedule amid trade rumors

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via Flickr

We’re now past December 15, the date free agents become eligible to be traded. Paul Millsap, for example, goes from off limits to a very nice trade piece the Hawks can bait other teams with, specifically Houston for Omer Asik. Atlanta also has plenty of other friendly contracts at their disposal.

The schedule for the rest of the month might make it difficult for the Hawks to make immediate moves, however, or at least ones meant to help get in the lottery. Check out how soft the rest of December is for them:

Date Team Home/Away Record
Tonight Los Angeles Lakers Home 11-12
Wed, Dec 18 Sacramento Home 7-15
Fri, Dec 20 Utah Home 6-20
Mon, Dec 23 Miami Away 17-6
Thu, Dec 26 Cleveland Away 9-14
Sat, Dec 28 Charlotte Home 10-14
Sun, Dec 29 Orlando Away 7-17
Tue, Dec 31 Boston Away 11-14
Totals   4-4 78-112

It’s an interesting predicament when Atlanta can swap their first round pick with Brooklyn, who’s (sadly) less than two games away from the eighth seed and faces a favorable schedule this week: versus Philadelphia, versus Washington, then at Philadelphia on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

Several teams out East are lurking under .500 anyway, a winning streak away from looking like a contender for the playoffs or a losing streak away from hopping into the abundance of tanks waiting for them. Even Chicago, injury-plagued for the second straight season, might choose to rebuild by putting Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer on the trading block. That makes it tempting for Atlanta to make a clear run at the third seed in the East when so many others are a potential step or two ahead in regards to accumulating lottery balls.

But at best, there’s a very small chance the Hawks go further than the second round of the playoffs. Atlanta’s schedule in January looks brutal anyway, playing Golden State, Chicago, Brooklyn, Indiana, Houston, Memphis, Brooklyn again, and Miami over the first three weeks and in that order. San Antonio and Oklahoma City lurk in the final week, topping off what could be a decent pile of losses.

This isn’t meant to say Atlanta would base any season-altering move just by looking at who’s on the schedule, but going possibly 18-14 through December or finishing January a few games under .500, for example, could help dictate how the Hawks finish in April and what their roster looks like by then. They could move some pieces before 2014 and use their January schedule to slowly but surely make their way into the lottery, or they could just as likely rack up wins the rest of December, tread water through January, and sell a round or two of playoff tickets in the spring.

Atlanta could always make a trade later in the season too, though a rim protector like Asik likely won’t be up for grabs by then. Regardless, the Hawks are set up as a landing spot for a valuable asset should another one become available.

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Houston’s twin’s towers: A permanent breakup or temporary?

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Playing Dwight Howard and Omer Asik together seemed hopeless from the get-go.

You could say Kevin McHale’s change in the lineup last night was a one-time adjustment, meant to match up with a smaller, hectic 76ers lineup that started Thaddeus Young at power forward, but the results of playing the two centers at once justify scrapping the ‘Twin Tower’ idea altogether. In 92 minutes, the Rockets were minus-35 in point-differential when Howard and Asik were on the floor, scoring at a rate that would’ve ranked far and away dead last in the league. Defensively, they flirted with the bottom ten in efficiency, that side of the court being where the two centers would be effective.

But not when they’re paired together.  

Enter Terrence Jones, the second-year forward who started in Asik’s place in last night’s overtime-loss. He had 10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and two threes in 37 minutes. Pick and choose which of those statistics is most surprising, whether it’s the threes he helped stretch the floor with, the rebounding that was very good for the playing time he was given, or even just the fact that he played 37 minutes even if the game went to overtime.

Or maybe Asik all but joining ‘Club Trillion’ in only four minutes of play stuck out more than whatever Jones did. It’s too early to peg just how many minutes he will receive if he continues coming off the bench, though he only played 10-15 minutes when he was a backup for the Chicago Bulls.  Who knows what McHale has in store for Asik and the Houston’s rotation going forward. 

Jones playing 37 minutes was also surprising, as mentioned earlier, but he made them count. 30 of them were with Howard, resulting in Houston being plus-eight in point-differential in that timeframe. The starting lineup with Jones and Howard was even better as they logged 25 minutes as a unit and were plus-11. Defensively, they had about the same efficiency as any lineup featuring Asik and Howard together, but the offense was so much better. It also helps when Jeremy Lin makes, say, nine three pointers, though his defense continues to be a question mark going forward.

It was obviously only one game (I feel like I’ll have to type ‘SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT’ in every post for another month) and the absence of James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams, the triple-double of Tony Wroten, and the 36-point outburst of James Anderson were just a few reasons to take last night’s results with a whole saltshaker. 

But Houston’s experiment with playing Terrence Jones at power forward was a necessary one, in my couch potato opinion, regardless of the opposition. Tonight, the Rockets match up with the Knicks, another team featuring a small ball starting lineup. Let’s see what McHale does next.

All stats are from NBA.com.

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