14 Atlanta Hawks One man's happiness: getting to play out of position on a bad team

October 27, 2003

Jason Terry is so taken with his hometown that he has Seattle's
area code--206--tattooed on his chest. Don't be surprised if
Atlanta's 404 soon adorns his willowy 6'2" frame as well. Over
the summer a number of teams made runs at him, including the
Jazz, which signed him to an offer sheet worth $22.5 million over
three years. When Atlanta matched, Terry exhaled in relief. "All
along I was hoping to stay," says Terry, who lives with his wife
and two daughters in tony Buckhead. "Great food, lots to do, nice
weather. Atlanta's got everything."

Everything, that is, except a successful NBA team. In fact, the
Hawks' best hope for respectability rests on the slender
shoulders of Terry, their underrated and unconventional point
guard. His 7.4 assists per game ranked sixth in the NBA in
2002-03, a season in which he moved from his natural position of
shooting guard to the point. "In our system," says coach Terry
Stotts, "JT can push it sometimes and spot up [as a shooting
guard] other times." Terry uses his quickness to get off teardrop
layups and set up a jumper that's really a glorified set shot.
For good measure, he's durable, having missed just six games in
his four-year career, which makes him an anomaly on a team
plagued by injuries.

Last year the Hawks played like doves and couldn't make good on
their money-back guarantee to make the playoffs, but there is a
distinct sense that a new era is at hand. Billy Knight has
replaced Pete Babcock as G.M., and last month AOL Time Warner
sold the team to an Atlanta-based investment group for $250
million. Terry isn't making any postseason promises for next
spring, but he guarantees this: "We're going to play together,
play as a family and play hard." Hey, it's a start. --L.J.W.

COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES Jason Terry

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Hawks

"At least with Glenn Robinson gone to the 76ers they won't have to
deal with his negativity after losses. But the guy they'll miss
more than Big Dog is Ira Newble [now with the Cavaliers], who at
least tried to shut down his man one-on-one.... Shareef
Abdur-Rahim had back surgery over the summer, but even when he
gets in shape he'll get you only so many wins. He's not a big
fourth-quarter scorer, he moves more like a center than a power
forward and down the stretch he doesn't make the right reads
defensively. He freezes and lets the back door slip open, or he
doesn't chase a rebound, or he misses a rotation. He's a terrific
guy, but you just can't depend on him.... Theo Ratliff came back
from two years of injuries to lead the league in blocks, but that
number isn't so impressive on a losing team--so many guys were
driving free and clear to the basket that he couldn't help but
block some of those shots.... I'm guessing Terry Stotts will use
the old Seattle traps and junk defenses; the last thing he wants
is teams executing half-court sets and exposing his bad
defenders. Terry is more structured than his predecessor, Lon
Kruger, and he can teach NBA fundamentals. They went 24-31 after
he took over last year, but he has little to work with. They
didn't make any big personnel moves during the summer because
they were waiting for the team to be sold.... Jason Terry isn't a
true point guard. They need another playmaker to move the ball
and create shots. Maybe they can get that from Boris Diaw, the
rookie from France, but that's asking a lot of the 21st pick....
The Hawks will have to take advantage of the nights when
opponents are unprepared and won't have their legs because they
have been out to the strip clubs the night before. That's
probably going to be Atlanta's best defense: the strip club
trap."

FAST FACT
The Hawks were the only team to rank in the bottom five in the
league in turnovers (16.7, 25th) and opponents' turnovers (13.0,
29th).

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2002-03 statistics

Record: 35-47 (11th in East)
Points scored: 94.1 (18th in NBA)
Points allowed: 97.6 (21st)
Coach: Terry Stotts
(second season with Hawks)

THEO RATLIFF

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
C 91 8.7 7.5 0.9

BPG SPG FG% FT%
3.23 0.69 46.4 72.0

STEPHEN JACKSON[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SF 104 11.8 3.6 2.3

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
1.56 43.5 32.0 76.0

JASON TERRY

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PG 40 17.2 3.4 7.4

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
1.56 42.8 37.1 88.7

DION GLOVER

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SG 155 9.7 3.7 1.9

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
0.93 42.7 35.4 78.4

SHAREEF ABDUR-RAHIM

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PF 19 19.9 8.4 3.0

BPG SPG FG% FT%
0.47 1.07 47.8 84.1

BENCH PVR* 2002-03 KEY STATS

F-C NAZR
MOHAMMED 192 4.6 ppg 3.7 rpg 0.60 bpg 0.46 spg 42.1 FG%
F ALAN
HENDERSON 229 4.8 ppg 4.9 rpg 0.39 bpg 46.8 FG% 63.8 FT%
G-F BORIS
[1] DIAW (R) 239 7.2 ppg 5.2 rpg 4.1 apg 54.2 FG% 42.1 3FG%
G DAN
DICKAU 246 3.7 ppg 0.9 rpg 1.7 apg 0.28 spg 41.2 FG%
F[1] LEE
NAILON 272 5.5 ppg 1.8 rpg 0.7 apg 44.2 FG% 82.4 FT%

NEW ACQUISITION[1]
(R) Rookie (French League statistics)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 94)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)