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Grading The Deal: Hawks Improve Defense With Hinrich

Rather than remain bystanders in an Eastern Conference that is either top-heavy (Boston, Miami, Chicago) or has been hyper-active in transforming their roster (Orlando, New York), the Hawks jumped into the fray on Wednesday by acquiring Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong for Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and a first round pick in 2011.

Bibby remained an excellent floor-spreading shooter at point guard, but didn’t produce anything of value off the dribble and was a complete liability on the defensive end. The Hawks give up 105.9 points per 100 possessions, which ranks them 13th in the NBA and the addition of Hinrich will allow the team to stop the ball better up top and that trickles down to the rest of the team.

Hinrich is several years older than he was when he played excellent defense against Dwyane Wade in the 2007 Playoffs and he hasn’t looked himself on that end of the floor this season. The Hawks need to hope some of that is based on the kinds of players he was teamed with as a member of the Wizards.

Hinrich isn’t quite as good of a pure perimeter shooter as Bibby, but he is shooting a still strong 38.4% from distance and that is a fairly typical output for him historically. He also is skilled on the pick and roll, an area that will benefit Atlanta’s offensive output. The Hawks are slightly below average in offensive efficiency and hopefully the infusion of Hinrich means more Al Horford pick and rolls and less isolations from Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford.

I’d also like to see the Hawks give Jeff Teague a little bit more run since he is essentially their only young player with latent potential left on the roster. Losing a first round pick in the upcoming draft, along with the 2010 first round pick doesn’t make Atlanta’s already bleak long-term outlook appear any better.

Armstrong was the 12th overall pick in 2006 and has legitimate size, but he has failed to develop in a way to warrant anything more than end of rotation minutes. He’s a decent rebounder and shotblocker, but doesn’t produce offensively, though that fits what the Hawks generally need. Armstrong has had a few decent moments this season and he adds six fouls against Dwight Howard that Maurice Evans couldn’t produce. I wouldn’t expect him to finally figure things out, but maybe he overachieves with Atlanta and allows Larry Drew to give Horford a few extra minutes at power forward. As far as throw-ins go, you can do a lot worse than Armstrong.

The Hawks will now have Hinrich, Joe Johnson, Horford, Smith and Crawford to close out most games and that is a better defensive unit than substituting out Hinrich for Bibby. With the offensive end being a virtual wash, the Hawks should have an easier time winning close games, but this trade doesn't accomplish a ton from a 48 minute perspective.

For Jamal Crawford, he is reunited with his former rival from Chicago and Hinrich’s presence will probably force him to move on this offseason yet again.

One possible negative for the Hawks is that Bibby could end up with an Eastern Conference playoff team that needs a point guard and there are several that fit the profile. Bibby doesn’t make a huge difference, as the Hawks know well, but if he hits a few three-pointers here and there while facilitating for a team that is strong on defense at the other four positions, then he certainly doesn’t hurt.

The Hawks needed to do something, otherwise they were looking at a first round exit, but this is a half-measure and half-measures are not what fringe contenders need. Atlanta is paying a heavy price-tag simply to trade in one over-30 guard for another over-30 guard.

A more ambitious trade involving Marvin Williams, or even Josh Smith if they wanted to really attempt a substantial shake-up would have had a stronger positive impact.

Grade for Hawks: D+

The Wizards pick up a player selected in the late 20s in Crawford and a pick this season that will also be in the 20s. Washington also saves some money in the trade, though it is relatively minor unless Bibby accepts a reduced buyout to get back to a playoff team.

Washington took on Hinrich with the team’s cap space last June/July and used the pick Chicago threw in to draft Kevin Seraphin and now they add Joe Crawford, and two parts that won’t be around very long. Considering first round picks cost about $3 million apiece to buy from teams looking for cash, this is what they have essentially paid on average for Seraphin, Jordan Crawford and the player to be drafted later.

I thought Jordan Crawford was a stretch to be selected in the first round in the first place and has been given very little playing time this season. He can handle the ball a little bit and was a pure scorer on the college level and the Wizards need to hope he develops into a Jodie Meeks.

For me at this point, no trade for the Wizards is a true success unless it involve Andray Blatche, Nick Young or Al Thornton.

Grade for Wizards: B+

 

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