By Jerel Marshall
If you have been paying close attention to the Atlanta Hawks this year, you probably noticed that Mike Bibby has been shooting the ball like the Mike Bibby of old.
In fact, the 12-year-vet is on pace to set a new career high in 3-point field goal percentage. Bibby is shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 48.6 from deep after shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from the three last season.
Bibby had a simple explanation for his increased efficiency from the field.
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“[The shots] have been going in,” he told HOOPSADDICT.com with a laugh. “I’m just taking the same shots. I’m just waiting for the ball to swing around and being ready to shoot.”
In a league filled with young explosive guards his job isn’t getting any easier. Still, Bibby has managed to hold down the starting point guard spot despite the developing talents of the young speedster, Jeff Teague.
Even though over the past two years Bibby has played less minutes than he is accustomed too, he has adjusted well and he said he feels even more comfortable this season.
“Last year was probably a down year for me,” he admitted. “But you have some. There were different looks as far as playing time and I was trying to get used to what they were trying to get me do. It was hard for me.”
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To compound Bibby’s problems with adjusting to his new role, he said he didn’t get to work-out in the summer of 2009 as much as he would have liked.
“Last year I didn’t get as much extra work in the summer as I usually do,” he said. “I think it really showed.”
Coach Larry Drew said he is happy with the effort from his veteran point guard.
“Mike (Bibby) is a workhorse,” Drew siad. “He is playing against younger, faster, quicker guys and at times it’s a little tough on him. But when its all said and done, he is a perfect fit for what we do because he knocks down his shots.”
Drew added that Bibby makes things easier for his go-to guys, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith.
“We go through Joe (Johnson), we go through Josh (Smith), we go through Al (Horford) and when those guys are double-teamed we have a guy sitting out there who can make shots,” Drew said.
Bibby’s hot shooting could not have come at a better time as Johnson has been struggling to find his stroke all season. Problems with his shooting elbow have seen Johnson shoot 40.1 percent from the field and an abysmal 26.6 percent from downtown.
Despite returning early from a December surgery, Johnson said that he is still not 100 percent and can’t quite get the extension on his jumpers that he normally gets.
When hoop fanatics talk about most-improved-players, they usually look to see who has the most dramatic increase in scoring or rebounding. However, it is hard to ignore the dramatic increase that Bibby has shown in three-point percentage.