4 All-Stars: Revisiting the 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks
In the 2014-2015, 4 of the Hawks starting 5 were selected to the All-Star game.
That Hawks team was good, and a bit of an anomaly as far as that specific time period of Hawks teams. Having only 29 games with Al Horford in 2013-2014, the Hawks went 38-44.
Al Horford comes back, and in 2014-2015, the Hawks win 60 games and send 4 players to the All-Star game.
This isn’t an exposé of that team so much as it is an exploration of if those 4 Hawks players, Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver, deserved to all be All-Stars that year.
For context, this has only happened 8 times in league history, excluding this year.
1962 Lakers (9 teams in the league)
PG Jerry West - 30.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 5.4 apg
SF Elgin Baylor - 38.3 ppg, 18.6 rpg, 4.6 apg
PF Rudy LaRussa - 17.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.2 apg
SG Frank Selvy - 14.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.8 apg
1962 Celtics (9 teams in the league)
C Bill Russell - 18.9 ppg, 23.6 rpg, 4.5 apg
PF Tom Heinsom - 22.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.1 apg
PG Bob Cousy - 15.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 7.8 apg
SG Sam Jones - 18.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.0 apg
1975 Celtics (18 teams in the league)
SF John Havlicek - 19.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.3 apg
C Dave Cowens - 20.4 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 4.6 apg
PG Jo Jo White - 18.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.6 apg
PF Paul Silas - 10.6 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 2.7 apg
1983 76ers (23 teams in the league)
SF Julius Erving - 21.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.7 apg
C Moses Malone - 24.5 ppg, 15.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
PG Maurice Cheeks - 12.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.9 apg
SG Andrew Toney - 19.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.5 apg
1998 Lakers (29 teams in the league)
SG Kobe Bryant - 15.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.5 apg
SG Eddie Jones - 16.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg
C Shaquille O’Neal - 28.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.4 apg
PG Nick Van Exel - 13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.9 apg
SG Rip Hamilton - 20.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg
PG Chauncey Billups - 18.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 8.6 apg
C Ben Wallace - 7.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.2 bpg
PF Rasheed Wallace - 15.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 apg
SG Ray Allen - 16.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg
PF Kevin Garnett 14.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.4 apg
SF Paul Pierce 18.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.3 apg
PG Rajon Rondo 10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 11.2 apg
PG Jeff Teague 16.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.7 apg
PF Paul Millsap 17.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.1 apg
SG Kyle Korver 12 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.9 apg
C Al Horford 18.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.6 apg
Our question is simple: Of the 4 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks All-Stars, who deserved it?
PG Jeff Teague
This is Jeff Teague’s first and only All-Star appearance. Is this because of weakness in the East, or because Teague actually had a good year?
Starters for 2015 All-Star teams were chosen via fan ballot. The 2 guards and 3 frontcourt players who received the highest number of votes were the starters. NBA head coaches voted for reserves in their own conference, and they couldn’t vote for players on their team.
Who He Beat Out:
Brandon Knight - Knight only played 52 games in 2014-2015, but averaged 17.8/4.3/5.4 in with an eFG% of 50.5. Additionally, Knight played injury free until February 2nd of 2015, past the time of All-Star voting that year.
Bradley Beal - Beal, like Knight, played in a limited number of games (63), but averaged 15.3/3.8/3.1 in those games. Unlike Knight, Beal’s injury was at the beginning of the season, which would drastically affect his All-Star voting.
Kemba Walker - The injury bug in the East did not protect Kemba. Kemba only played in 62 games, but posted averages of 17.3/3.5/5.1. Again, like Knight, Kemba played the first half of the season, and wasn’t injured until January 17th of 2015. His injury should not have affected his All-Star potential.
Did He Deserve It More Than Them?
Knight - The 2014-2015 Hawks just played good ball. Mike Budenholzer is a Popovich disciple, and this team shows it. As such, Teague played in a system that averaged 25.7 assists a game. As the point guard, Jeff Teague is at the center of that. He had a better year than Knight. Yes.
Beal - Because of Beal’s injury, yes.
Kemba - On a team that was 28th in the league in assists (20.2 pg), and 20th in pace (93.0), Kemba had less touches on the ball that year than Jeff Teague. Kemba’s usage rate was 25.9%, and Teague’s was 25.3%. Kemba still averaged more points (17.3) and rebounds (3.5) than Teague (15.9 and 2.5). No.
SG Kyle Korver
Teague had a great year. Though primarily because of the system he played in and the weakness of the East, Teague deserved to be an All-Star.
But, so did Kemba Walker. Kemba Walker should’ve taken Kyle Korver’s spot in the 2015 All-Star game.
Korver has better advanced numbers than Kemba. Again, the Hawks system was an unselfish brand of basketball that always gave the ball to the open man. When the open man is often one of the 3 greatest 3-pt shooters of all time, he’s going to have alarming advanced numbers.
You can see how someone like Korver would destroy worlds in an offense like this:
Korver had an offensive rating of 122 that year. He shot 49.2% from 3 with 6 attempts per game. 72.8% of his points came from 3 pointers, and 96.4 percent of his 3 pointers were assisted.
A spot up shooter, though elite, is a specialist, not an All-Star. Kemba should’ve had his place.
PF Paul Millsap
Even though it happened after the time period in which this article operates, SI’s Top 100 list noted this as one of Paul Millsap’s 2 flaws:
“In good, crowded company in that he can’t really guard LeBron James”
One of his flaws is that he can’t guard LeBron. Wow.
Point being: he’s really, really good. Millsap, like all of these Hawks players, though he didn’t need it, had a great year in this fast-paced Hawks system. Millsap posted a 109 ORtg and a 99 DRtg, which is simply stellar on both ends of the court. Other players with >= 109 ORtg and <= 99 DRtg is a long list of names that include 2-way greats like David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwan, Scottie Pippen, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. He averaged 1.8 steals per game, which is on par with some of the great pickpocketers in the league.
Who He Beat Out:
Brook Lopez - Brook averaged 17.2/7.4/.7 with a 112 ORtg and 105 DRtg.
Nikola Vucevic - Vucevic was good, at least on paper. Vuc averaged a double-double with 19.3/10.9. But oh yes, defense matters, and Vuc had a DRtg of 106 and had a DBPM of -0.1.
Is He Better Than Them?
Lopez - Absolutely. Millsaps counting stats equled more, and he also helped his team tremendously on the defensive end of the court, whereas Lopez did not.
Vucevic - Yes, for the exact same reason.
C Al Horford
Al, like Korver above, faced the same competition as his same-court partner. Horford’s 2014 numbers are interesting. It is, at the time of writing, his career year as far as PER is concerned with 21.4.
Horford’s numbers have never told the story of his impact. Thought his numbers are strong, they are not eye-gouging. He’s the ultimate NBA glue guy. Indispensable on defense, knowing how to help and where to help, and dependable on offense, taking the shots he’s given and making them.
By virtue of being a two-way player, Horford is undoubtedly more deserving than either Lopez or Vucevic of All-Star honors in 2015.
Half by the weakness of the NBA’s eastern conference, and half by the strength of the Hawks system, 3 of the 4 Hawks All-Stars in 2015 are defensible All-Stars.
The most suspect, of course, are Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver who’s only All-Star appearances were in 2015. Teague, more than Millsap or Horford, benefitted from the East’s weak talent pool. Kyle Korver, for all intents and purposes, took a spot that should’ve been given to Kemba Walker.
Millsap and Horford both were top 5 bigs in the East that year, based almost exclusively on their two-way impact.