The Atlanta Hawks will have an opportunity to rebuild their depth chart this offseason with cap space and a high draft pick.
One area where they must improve is their post-up offense. This season, they have run this play type frequently (1.2 percent) than any of the other team in the league. And they have averaged just 0.73 points per possession when they do post up, which is also ranked last in the NBA.
Zach Kram recently described their efforts when posting up as one of the five saddest play types in the league (via The Ringer):
“Even the Rockets, who rank 29th this season in post-up frequency, have nearly doubled the Hawks’ attempts. But Mike Budenholzer has good reason for straying away from the block: When Atlanta does execute its rare post-up, the possession often goes terribly awry. No team scores at a lower rate on post-ups, no team turns the ball over more, and no team makes a lower percentage of its shots — and in none of those categories is Atlanta particularly close to 29th place.”
John Collins has been a bright spot for Atlanta this season, but the 20-year-old has averaged just 0.4 post-ups per game for the Hawks.
It’s possible that Coach Budenholzer doesn’t want the team posting up and it’s no accident that they’re last in the league in post-up frequency. Many teams are moving away from post-ups and having success, including the previously mentioned Rockets. If that’s the case with Atlanta, they clearly wouldn’t be in the market for a post-up specialist. But if they do want help in that area, here are some free agents who could drastically improve their interior scoring.
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
Randle has posted up on more than 20 percent of his possessions so far this season. He has been very effective on these opportunities too, improving by 0.20 PPP since last year. And having just turned 23 years old in November, he could continue to get even better as he gains experience.
Post-ups per game: 3.3
Points per post-up possession: 0.89
Points per post touch: 0.49
Points in the paint per game: 11.7
Brook Lopez, Los Angeles Lakers
Lopez has consistently been one of the better post-scorers in the league and that continued this season with the Lakers. He is currently shooting 72.4 percent in the restricted area of the paint and he has averaged 3.0 points per game on post-ups. This is comparable to Al Horford, who was one of the best interior options with the Hawks for many years. While he’d certainly make Atlanta a better team, it’s unclear if the 30-year-old would be willing to join a rebuilding Hawks team.
Post-ups per game: 3.2
Points per post-up possession: 0.94
Points per post touch: 0.47
Points in the paint per game: 8.1
Enes Kanter, New York Knicks
The 25-year-old big man is shooting 54.9 percent on post-up plays this season with the Knicks. Among those who have averaged at least two field goal attempts on this play type per game, this is the second-best in the NBA. Indiana’s Al Jefferson is the only player who has been more accurate.
Post-ups per game: 3.1
Points per post-up possession: 0.96
Points per post touch: 0.52
Points in the paint per game: 11.1
Michael Beasley, New York Knicks
He had a relatively small sample size (8.7 frequency) last year, but post-ups have become a much more significant part of his game (17.3 percent) this season. Beasley is shooting 48.7 percent in the non-restricted area of the paint, which is the exact same percentage as Golden State’s Kevin Durant — who has had slightly fewer opportunities.
Post-ups per game: 2.4
Points per post-up possession: 0.95
Points per post touch: 0.57
Points in the paint per game: 8.1
Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers
The 24-year-old is one of the most efficient scorers in the league, which is something we took notice of last month. He is shooting 71.3 percent from less than five feet of the basket, which trails only three players (LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Taj Gibson) among those with as many attempts. When he posts up on the left block, no player with as many opportunities has been more efficient.
Post-ups per game: 1.8
Points per post-up possession: 1.00
Points per post touch: 0.74
Points in the paint per game: 6.3
Even though this is not what he is known for as a scorer, Gordon is still capable of producing near the basket. He is shooting 66.3 percent from within five feet of the basket, which is comparable to big men like Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside and Steven Adams. As he gets a bit more polished in the future, this could be an area where he shines.
Post-ups per game: 1.5
Points per post-up possession: 0.88
Points per post touch: 0.48
Points in the paint per game: 7.3
Jusuf Nurkic — 3.5 post-ups per game, 0.74 PPP
Greg Monroe — 2.9 post-ups per game, 0.83 PPP
David West — 1.3 post-ups per game, 0.84 PPP
Jeff Green — 1.2 post-ups per game, 0.87 PPP
Alex Len — 0.9 post-ups per game, 0.86 PPP
Wilson Chandler —0.8 post-ups per game, 1.00 PPP