Coaching effects

Four days into training camp, and it seems that things are definitely different for the Atlanta Hawks. Or are they?

 

Same ol’, Same ol’ ?

According to Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham, there are some hiccups, some of which are probably to be expected. After all, the Hawks are doing things in practice as their primary game plan now, that they’ve never seriously or consistently done before. There is always going to be a period of adjustment when it comes to a new set of Xs and Os. But what about the physical side of things? Reportedly, there is already some grumbling about the amount of running that Larry Drew is putting the team through. Oh yeah? Well guess what. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the best train pretty hard. It seems that Larry Drew knows this, and knows that the intensity level in practice is where it all begins. For those who tend not to believe, recall the success of current GM and former coach Pat Riley, who has a handful of rings to justify his historically tough practices (just ask former Knicks tough guy Anthony Mason how things were). As for the players who grumble, is this just the typical muttering under one’s breath that means nothing, or do some of the Hawks think they’ll get better without actually having to work harder?

Could it be that hard work and maturity actually do go hand in hand? Could it be that Larry Drew sees a link between easy going practices and the inconsistency and immaturity that the Hawks displayed on the court last season? In the meantime, there is plenty said about the offensive side of the ball. What about defense (many of you have asked this often enough)? Surely Drew’s demand for better conditioning and stamina will help the team defend better, especially late in games. But the people want to know – how are the Hawks going to get better defensively? Maybe this is where Lester Connor comes in. But we haven’t heard a word from him lately. Is this a good thing, or not?

 

The Specialist

Last year it was Mark Price. His effect on the Hawks? Negligible at best. If anybody can point out what he did for the team, I’m all ears. This year’s flavor is Nick Van Exel, and he’s here to help the Hawks’ young guards, more specifically point guard Jeff Teague. Check this out to see how that’s coming along. Here’s a question or two: Why does Teague need to find a way to keep his fire lit? Whatever happened to his jump shot? The guy I saw at Wake Forest University had no such issues, that I could see.

Van Exel’s approach is certainly a departure from Teague’s experience with the coaching staff last season. Will it turn out to be effective, or are we just hoping against hope? Fact is, the Hawks don’t have another option at point guard outside of Mike Bibby. Anything else requires a shooting guard to play the role.

Training camp. This is where the coaching effect begins. If the Hawks are going to “Rise Up” like the Falcons, then this is where the takeoff happens. What do you think of the Hawks’ coaching approach so far?

93 comments Add your comment

MannyT

October 1st, 2010
6:37 pm

I reserve the right to actually see some coaching in action prior to making an evaluation. I know that is unblogger-like, but so be it.

Clyde

October 1st, 2010
7:32 pm

Big Ray

October 1st, 2010
8:31 pm

MannyT ,

Unblogger-like? How so? You just gave an opinion, so there’s your bloggin’ contribution! :)

Now here’s something I definitely liked hearing (and it’s especially good to hear it in practice):

http://blogs.ajc.com/hawks/2010/10/01/atlanta-hawks-etan-thomas-and-josh-powell-add-physicality/

No call, no cry

L.D. stopped practice today when players started complaining about the calls by local officials brought in for scrimmages. The calls were pretty bad–lots of illegal screens went without a whistle, to the point that even J.J. lashed out–but L.D. didn’t want to hear it.

“Let the officials make the calls and play,” he told them. “That’s a big part of our growth. We are always complaining to officials about calls. We have got to get that [blank] out of our system. That starts here in practice.”

L.D. elaborated on his stance afterward:

“To me nothing positive comes out of that. They are not going to change the call, so just leave them alone and just play basketball. It’s a very emotional game, and I understand that. . . . [But] we don’t want to get into being a team that complains a lot and always disputing calls and that type thing. Stay away from that and just play ball.”

L.D. said he was called for one technical foul during his 10-year career–he even remembered the city (San Antonio) and the official (Wally Rooney). He said he never was called for a tech as an assistant coach.

Now that he’s moving over to the head coach’s seat, his interactions with officials will increase dramatically. How does he think he will handle them?

“I don’t know how am I going to be,” he said. “If if it ain’t going the way I like it, obviously I am going to voice my opinion and stick up for my players. Some [coaches], they are masters at how they work officials. Some guys they take the approach of leaving the officials alone. That is kind of the approach I want to take and want my players to take the same approach. I know it is an emotional game but they have to fight through that and kind of let me handle it.”

That goes double for you, JSmoove. Much love bruh, but the quickest way to earning that team captain status that Larry bestowed on you is to take this to heart. Walk the walk…

Astro Joe

October 1st, 2010
9:07 pm

Why does Teague need to find a way to keep his fire lit?
Maybe because this is the first time in his basketball life that he has not been able to “out-athlete” his opposition. Dealing with adversity for the first time can be rough.

Whatever happened to his jump shot?
With his low release and the quickness of NBA guards, he may have to get used to shooting over out-stretched hands. Think about how many times he had his shot blocked last season…. think that happened much in college?

If he’s an introvert dealing questionning his skill because of poor shooting percentages, blocked shots and lack of playing time, that can weigh on a guy who may not have faced athletic adversity in the past. While Drew’s approach is clearly better and shows more faith, it also suggests that he knows that the young man needs special “tutoring”. I’m glad that Drew recognizes it and is doing something about it… but let’s not pretend that the doctor prescribed medicine for a healthy patient.

doc

October 1st, 2010
10:44 pm

some of the scrubs having fun at celtic camp …

http://www.twitvid.com/NJD53

Rev in Tampa

October 1st, 2010
11:32 pm

Big Ray, I understand that you have a Savannah connection. I did my pastoral internship at The Independent Presbyterian Church (Bull & Oglethorpe). I also got married there.

northcyde

October 2nd, 2010
1:11 am

The “scrimmage” against Memphis on Thursday night will be interesting. They’re doing the exact opposite of what we’re doing. They didn’t have much problems on offense last year, but they couldn’t stop anybody ( and definitely couldn’t stop us ). So the focus in their training camp has been all defense.

Memphis reminds me of the 08 – 09 Hawks.

vava74

October 2nd, 2010
4:25 am

The problem with Hawks last year was all resulting from poor technical guidance (coaching).

We played D with a gimmick D which although effective against most scrub team was exploited by teams that made us ‘work more’.

When asked to hustle, we wilted. The switching D was condemned to fail because like comunism it does not take into account human nature.

It implies that the best defensive players had to sacrifice themselves (by working harder) to compensate the poor defenders (who would always have to put a 100% effort as well).

The result was that the poor defenders either coasted or were toasted so badly the the best defenders got tired of over compensated and of the extra effort.

That is when the re-switching stopped and the defense stopped working.

Smarter players rotated the ball until the match up was good and there was no re-switxhing.

Added to this, the switching D worked like a bit like a zone D with players not having to move around the half court all the time keeping up with their man.

This whole combo of factors generated a lazy and soft mentality, in particular by the end of the season when the mental blame game starts to take it’s toll.

Similarly, on offense, with the ISO play, the insentive for less featured players to be shap and work hard diminished and frustration grew: Marvin’s performance, for instance, seemed a consequence of this fact.

He is not mentally tough enough to remain sharp and “hot” sitting on the corner waiting for the kick out pass.

On a different note, Bibby also relaxed with his diminished role. Not only he played less minutes, got less shots but also was not called to do that much after crossing the half court.

Hopefully, the new offensive and defensive strategies will keep players more involved and more battle ready.

The extra physicality and intenseness of the practices are a must for the Hawks to able to make the transition between last year’s style and the new projected one.

When the lights are on and the games start, the practices will certainly drop in intensity a bit. Right now, that is a must.

With the above I am not saying that we are guaranteed to get a successful season, however, we should all realise that all the right steps towards that objective are now finally being taken by this ball club.

wordsmithtom

October 2nd, 2010
5:59 am

LD may be a “rookie” head coach, but his long experience as assistant and as a player show he has learned what it takes, a la Pat Riley. Conditioning and focus. I like his camp, so far. The way they played against Orlando, they deserve a BOOT CAMP. Even if it wasn’t what they deserve, it’s what they NEED.

MC talked about added physical presence of Etan and JP. If they only serve to whoopass during practice, they will keep starters sharp. I expect they will do more….We all knew Woody’s 2 foul rule. No coach wants his starters in foul trouble, but with Woody’s aversion to playing his bench, this led to starters being less aggressive at moments when they should have risked the foul. If they know the bench is tough, they can afford to foul, knowing someone has their back.

One could almost sense something was wrong with last year’s team after Christmas. They built huge leads, only to give them up in the 4th quarter. Was it fatigue? Was it not enough bench play? Was it overuse of ISO? Was it poor defensive design? I suggest all had a part, but I suspect the poor use of the bench had as much to do with it as anything. If you wear down people’s bodies, you wear down their brain and erode their intensity during stress.

It’s still up to the starters to play the major minutes; that’s the NBA. But if you don’t have a Big Baby type guy in the playoffs ready to go to the floor and into the seats after loose balls, then you don’t have a real bench. Last couple years our bench bigs were jokers, soft, old, and fat. These two guys are anything but. They eek toughness….and basketball is a team sport. Toughness is contagious just like sloth is. Woody pampered his pets and let the bench see the game only in mopup roles. That’s not enough. It hurts the bench and hurts starters as well. Starters may think they need more minutes, but after 82 games, the extra minutes take a toll, even on young guys.

vava74

October 2nd, 2010
6:22 am

wordsmithtom: co-sign! well put!

jhan

October 2nd, 2010
10:23 am

wordsmith – excellent post. I agree completely

vava74 – another excellent post. Our government seems to believe in Woodys defensive system also. Let those who work hard cover for those who don’t. Maybe this country will get our own LD soon.

wordsmithtom

October 2nd, 2010
10:54 am

Pro baseball and pro basketball vary in speed and intensity. Both, however are long seasons. If Cox is willing to use his backup catcher to start the first game of the Philly series, why couldn’t Woody start a bench player once or twice down the stretch run of an 82 game season. With all the injuries the Braves have had this season, had they not played bench players early, they’d have no shot of making this playoffs. Woody was not a BAD coach and he had no clue how to use a bench, or why you must use that bench. Starters need rest, even if they think they need minutes.

Situational situations this year should see more big lineups against Orlando where they run and foul Superman until he sweats Kryptonite. Situational play Woody wouldn’t risk because he was too stubborn. We’ll probably see some 3 guard offences against smaller teams. LD strikes me as pragmatic and flexible. He knows his talent, having seen them in practice over the years, and his new bigs are clearly more physical than the ones they replaced. I’m interested in seeing some smash-mouthed play against Orlando. They will have plenty of extra fouls to give, and LD and Conners will see that they take them or sit. No more saving themselves from fouling out. Foul out if you must….just no uncontested layups.

Astro Joe

October 2nd, 2010
1:57 pm

53 wins from the incompetent Lucipher last year… 58 for Coach Drew this season?

jhan

October 2nd, 2010
2:00 pm

Drew will be doing well to win 53 this year. Hard to implement a new offense & defense without some growing pains. No way do they have this figured out before the season starts. I’ll take 48 – 50 wins with the team playing their best basketball when the playoffs begin.

dstdeelite

October 2nd, 2010
2:09 pm

If they could just learn some fundamental basketbal skills, it could equate to a few more wins a year. A couple of things that come to mind are:
boxing out ( a real pet peeve of mine)
setting solid screens

i_am_soulstar

October 2nd, 2010
2:44 pm

“Could it be that Larry Drew sees a link between easy going practices and the inconsistency and immaturity that the Hawks displayed on the court last season?”

Truer words have never been spoken Ray.

I’ve seen play dates between 6 year olds with more intensity than some of the Hawks’ practice I was able to get a glimpse of last season. They seemed to be playing around most of the time, and then had spurts of intensity during the regular season, but no true continuity, likely due to a lack of discipline. Talent only gets you so far.

It all starts in practice. Don’t mind the injuries. We’ll just dismiss these as a part of the growing pains. Just hope they’re able to get it together by start of the regular season.

Can’t believe pundits are still bashing Atlanta for being taken to 7 games by Milwaukee, but any coach not named Woody wouldn’t have continued switching when the other team was obviously exploiting it. All L.D. has to do is not be as horrible at making in game adjustments and we should do fine.

Teague truly is the wild card. If he can answer our prayers for improved perimeter defense, then we’ll definitely be a much better team than last year.

I still agree with making him earn it as he’s only forced to get better in order to start, but I’ll take a few more turnovers if it means being able to stop your man from flying by you 5 out of 6 possessions. I believe Bibby can be more efficient as a player off the bench anyway.

i_am_soulstar

October 2nd, 2010
3:04 pm

Josh Smith, Andre Iguodola, and Russell Westbrook get ambushed about taxes on Fox Business Network

http://deadspin.com/5653512/

jhan

October 2nd, 2010
4:36 pm

Funny video – nobody would say what they really feel. They all handled themselves well with the brit.

niremetal

October 2nd, 2010
4:48 pm

Astro, in his rush to declare Drew a failure, will of course cry bloody murder if the Hawks win fewer than 53 games. Never mind the fact that his boy Woody had the luck of being the most injury-free team in the NBA, which almost certainly won’t hold true this year. And never mind the fact that most of us were focused on improving on our playoff performance, not our regular season record.

Doesn’t matter. Astro lacks either the mental capacity or the honesty (or both) to actually address what other people on here say. He’ll pretend all anyone ever cared about was the regular season record come next April. Bank on it.

Astro Joe

October 2nd, 2010
7:50 pm

nire, it is true that I cannot go from Novebmer to April without evaluating the team, coach, GM or ownership. I do not have that capacity. I am a fan, I can’t ignore 82 regular season games and just fixate myself on 7-14 (or more) contests. Again, I am guilty. I can’t (and won;t) deny that 82 games mattter to me.

Astro Joe

October 2nd, 2010
8:02 pm

Astro lacks either the mental capacity or the honesty (or both) to actually address what other people on here say. He’ll pretend all anyone ever cared about was the regular season record come next April.

nire, I am here to exchange opinions. I don’t need anyone to agree with me nor do I need to “address what other people say”.

If a coach is doing better than the previous one, the notion that you wait 82 games before making an evaluation is utterly ridiculous. I could assure you that the ASG is in no position to ignore regular season attendance or revenues… the players can’t ignore regular season performance tied to contract incentives… so can fans really sleep from Nov-Apr only to pay attention once the playoffs start? Feel free to hibernate if you so choose… I will be here for all 82 regular season games… enjoying another 50+ win season (much like I did last year).

Astro Joe

October 2nd, 2010
8:45 pm

I guess I will be one of the very few bloggers here who will enjoy the upcoming 50+ win regular season. Too bad. I plan to enjoy every win this coming season like I did last season. Y’all should try it,because quiet as it’s kept… the regular season matters.

JP from El Paso

October 2nd, 2010
8:55 pm

Why does Teague need to find a way to keep his fire lit?

I am guessing that his confidence was shot last year, partly as a result of the way that Woodson dealt with him. I liked Woodson overall, but believe that he would have kept Chris Paul on the bench if we had drafted him. He just doesn’t like young point guards, and certainly showed no ability to help them develop their skills. It will be an interesting year. I hate Teague’s low release, but love his quickness, speed and ability to penetrate. I think he’s a great kid, but would like to see the fire burn. If he can find a way to do that, he could be very good for the Hawks.

niremetal

October 2nd, 2010
9:17 pm

BS, AJ. You’ll be making snide comments about Drew incessantly, and won’t give him or the front office credit when it’s due. It’s the way intellectually lazy fools like you roll.

chuckw/deadjournalist

October 3rd, 2010
8:36 am

The same grumblings of discontentment that were present last year may be already surfacing this year. Shocking, considering it is the exact same group being run out as last year. (sarcasm)

You can change the way a man is forced to work; but you can change the attitude of he man doing the work?

jhan

October 3rd, 2010
10:03 am

AJ / Nire – You guys are in mid season form already!

Astro Joe

October 3rd, 2010
1:37 pm

nire, why, because I congratulated him for the Van Exel hire? Because I said that as a competent coach, he should win more with the same roster? Because I look forward to a 50 win season? According to you, I should wait until April before handing out grades to the GM, coach or ASG. I think you’re confused (again).

niremetal

October 3rd, 2010
5:01 pm

Nah AJ, I’m not confused. I just realize that you don’t have the capacity to think in more than one dimension. It’s sad, but not confusing.

doc

October 3rd, 2010
6:46 pm

nire, 158000 showed up this weekend to see braves baseball. they were selling sro thursday for all three games. beat the old three game record by eight thou. impressive showing for atl fans.

and a SO for mcnabb in philly!

bad weekend for fan predictability.

richbrave

October 3rd, 2010
7:57 pm

richbrave

October 3rd, 2010
7:56 pm
BOOYAH, BRAVES squeak into the wild card. GO BRAVES, beat the GIANTS

doc

October 3rd, 2010
8:26 pm

great news there richie boy

Astro Joe

October 3rd, 2010
8:35 pm

nire, you’re right. Kind of like Ty Hill and NVE are the same age so… I don’t quite remember the lunacy of the argument… but it was a doozy. That certainly was a multi-dimensional thought pattern… comparable age = comparable skill set. Ooh… did you read that in a book with all words and no pictures?

Big Ray

October 3rd, 2010
8:48 pm

Rev in Tampa ,

I actually live in “the greater Savannah area.” I’m familiar with Independent Presbyterian Church. Several friends there. I believe Terry is still the head pastor there, and Art Broadwick and Bob (forgot his last name) are still associate pastors. Didn’t know you did your internship there!

Big Ray

October 3rd, 2010
8:50 pm

Jhan

AJ / Nire – You guys are in mid season form already!

They’re gonna have to get their own show. Ratings would be through the roof, I tell ya. :lol:

Big Ray

October 3rd, 2010
8:57 pm

chuckw/deadjournalist ,

I had to laugh at your sarcasm. If I hadn’t seen AJ busy with Nire, I’d have thought he had posted it, LOL.

dtsdeelite ,

You hit the nail on the head. My biggest pet peeve target with boxing out is Josh Smith. There is no reason a guy like him, with his supreme athleticism and nose for the ball, isn’t putting up the kind of rebounding numbers Shawn Marion was when he was in his prime in Phoenix. No reason whatsoever. Dude should be outrebounding Horford. Yep, I said it…

JP from El Paso ,

I agree. The good news is that he will get plenty of attention, instruction, and opportunity to succeed. Let’s hope we don’t ever get to the bad news. As AJ astutely noted, the man is not without his problems. The bad news would be if he failed despite being coached up.

And I think Nick the Quick can give him a tip or two on raising the release of that jumper. I noticed Teague had developed a little “step back” move in summer league, that allowed him to get a little separation from his defender, so he could get that jumper off. But…that’s summer league, and while he has the quickness to pull a step back move off, he’s still just 6′1″ or 6′2″, and will need to develop a higher release on his jumper. Well, back to the drawing board kid. Hard work is where it’s at.

Big Ray

October 3rd, 2010
9:03 pm

Northcyde ,

I’m looking forward to hearing about that scrimmage against Memphis. Will you be in attendance (if it’s open to the public, and if it’s in Memphis)?

wordsmithtom ,

Gotta agree with everybody else. You posts were off the chain .

I am soulstar ,

Thanks!

Pundits are going to repeat the obvious and the sensational…until you give them something different to talk about. You know how it is. The same can be said of fans, to an extent.

Big Ray

October 3rd, 2010
9:06 pm

Vava ,

I’d agree that a lot of what ailed this team came from coaching. But I can’t bring myself to blame all of it on the former head coach. Hopefully Drew contributes greatly to a turnaround, but guys do have to improve themselves. Nobody can make Josh stop whining, box out on rebounds, and shoot better from the perimeter…except Josh. No one can make Marvin stop doing his “where’s Waldo” acts except Marvin (on defense and on the boards, at least). No one can help Mike Bibby or Jamal Crawford play better defense, except themselves.

Drew will lead these horses to water. Of that I am sure. But the horses must decide to drink.

niremetal

October 3rd, 2010
10:16 pm

Doc,

Oh there was zero question as to whether McNabb’s first game against the Eagles would be a sell-out.

And yeah, Braves fans showed up for the last 3 games of a pennant race against the best team in baseball in what potentially were the last 3 games for the Braves under a Hall of Fame manager. Color me unimpressed. The fact that people deem three successive sellouts under those circumstances even worthy of comment speaks volumes about Atlanta fans. In Philly, New York, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, or pretty much any other large market (or even middle market), it would go without saying that the team managed three successive sellouts.

My favorite proxy indicator of the interest of a fan base is to look at StubHub and see how much lower level seats are selling for relative to their face value ~ a month before the game in question. In Philly and DC, they always sell WAY above face value for baseball, and usually sell above for basketball (although Wizard’s prices plummeted last year after Arenas’ suspension). Atlanta sports teams consistently sell below face value. Not very scientific, but I like taking a market-based tack.

Oh, and the Braves finished with the 3rd best record in the NL but finished 9th in attendance. Yup, real impressive.

niremetal

October 3rd, 2010
10:23 pm

*three successive sellouts under those circumstances.

Back to McNabb for a second – that game was always gonna sell out. The only question was whether more people would be there to cheer him or to boo him. It sounded like the cheerers won out, which shocked me. Philly people are weird. It’s supposed to be the city of brotherly love, but I’ve never seen a city that is happier being angry, especially at their own. While he was here, there was rarely anyone more in the bullseye, including the city’s super-corrupt ex-mayor. I guess once McNabb left, the appeal of booing him somehow went away.

Oh, and the attitude towards McNabb while he was here? Let’s just say that it might have been a bit louder than it otherwise would have been had his skin been a few shades lighter.

doc

October 3rd, 2010
10:36 pm

nire you missed my point; it was out of character for both cities fans, that is all. one for atlanta to care enough to show up to see bobby off and make something of these games as we are usually too jaded to do otherwise and for the philly fans to give a standing ovation to a player of their own now wearing the colors of another team. i think vegas had a line on it. ;-) it showed that maybe they respected mcnabb in the end and were giving him his due.

doc

October 3rd, 2010
10:53 pm

nire, cleveland which made it to your list and they were dead last in attendance this year nire.

also 15th in salary, 14th in attendance. it is what the market will bear. it will also never compete with the likes of philly, detroit, st louis, chicago, new york, l a or the boston’s of the world. not that kind of money here, nor age old fan base dating back generations. that is not the tier we will ever get to. atlanta is in the next tier and will be for some time and probably shouldnt be compared to them as they also are spending a lot more money to get talent to stay there. quite a year for a mid tier salary structured team, congrats to them.

Melvin

October 3rd, 2010
11:39 pm

Noah agree to an extension…

The news about Noah comes on a day when the Bulls learned that Carlos Boozer, their top acquisition this summer, broke a bone in his right hand in a fall at home and could be out about two months.

The Chicago Tribune reported the deal is worth about $11 million annually with incentives that could take it higher

niremetal

October 4th, 2010
1:01 am

Fair enough, doc.

It’s funny. I grew up in Atlanta, and all my friends were big fans of the Braves (notsomuch the Falcons and Hawks). We mostly went to the winds after high school and college. I think only 3 of my dozen or so best friends in my high school class live around Atlanta today. Two friends lives in Texas, one in San Fran, one in Connecticut, one in Raleigh, and four in DC. I, on the other hand, moved from DC to Philly last year, moved to Delaware this year, am moving to Akron next year, and am moving to Detroit after that. That’s not unusual. There actually are more of my high school friends in DC than in Atlanta itself. Most of them retained their Atlanta sports loyalties, but none are close enough to do anything about it. Makes me wonder where all the 6M people who live around Atlanta now came from.

By contrast, the people I work with now all have families that have been at least in the region (ie 3 hours or less away) for 2+ generations. The idea of rooting for a team other than the Eagles and Phillies is blasphemy to them. I used to say that Atlanta would get there after it stops sprawling and growing for a few years. But what really needs to happen is for the people who already live there to stay put after they graduate. And for THAT to happen, Atlanta needs to do a better job of marketing itself to young people who don’t have the money or patience to live in a city with no public transit, huge traffic congestion, and a volatile housing market. I’m not holding my breath, which is why returning to Atlanta remains unlikely for me.

wordsmithtom

October 4th, 2010
7:57 am

Random thots:
Kuddo’s to Braves and Falcons. Hope Hawks learn from Falcon’s play. Roddy White has the “tough” factor. Ditto Gonzalas. Couch, no doubt about it. Ryan, you bet. He made a couple bad throws–sure, he could have given up. No! He was in front of that scrum, while White was chasing it. He rallied the troops and threw his best pass of the game when all the marbles were in the ring. Great catch White. TEAM play. TEAM play. TEAM play.

Congrats to Vick for coming back with a positive attitude. We’re all human; we make mistakes…some outside the pale. But, I believe in redemption. McNabb proved the Philly fans correct in giving him the SO. He killed the clock with his legs in the final minutes. Even the ones who don’t like him have to admit he’s one hell of a player. Color me IMPRESSED.

Ditto the “best BASKETBALL players” theme. Remember when Barkley played, nobody questioned what his “position” was. They tried to figure out how to stop him, how to score against him, how to deal with him….but not what position the program had his name listed. Ditto Rodman. Was Jordan a 2 or a 3? Magic a1or 2 or a 3? I never asked…they were WINNERS…PERIOD.
I say this to get back to Josh Smith. He turned pro too young, IMHO. He had a coach who let his immaturity lead to some bad habits which have limited his growth. Is he a 3 or a 4? Most say he has to be a 4 and doesn’t have the talent to be a 3. I disagree. If he can leave childish habits behind and just play BASKETBALL, it won’t matter if he’s a 3 or a 4…he’ll be a BASKETBALL player. I think he has the physical talent to be another Barkley. Can he get his head right? Listening to him talk to reporters, I sense he has the intelligence, but may not yet understand how to corral his emotions. Horford has a step on him in emotional maturity, but not in physical talent. JS is a beast when his head is in the game. Barkley’s head NEVER left the game, and he got better as he got older, despite physical limitations. Can LD bring out the “Barkley” factor? He’ll deserve a fat raise if he can…..

I, for one, like the JS, Horf, ZaZa lineup with MW first backup, especially if our PG play keeps the ball moving. I also like the idea that LD will use situational matchups to attack teams where we have matchup problems. Flexibility instead of rigidity….

If these young cats can pick up on the “TOUGH GUY” factor, as Josh admitted they needed to do, and everyone in Atlanta correctly sees, then I believe they will surprise the sports media who routinely consign them to the 42-45 win mediocracy. Remember, the media is stuck in the “Star” concept….Gotta have a SUPERSTAR. Call me old fashioned: I prefer the Detroit Piston team under Rodman/Mahorn/Lambeer etc. Smash mouth, in your face basketball where the team wins…not the individual. If these cats play lie Roddy White and the Falcons, they can hang with Miami and their 70-12 win expectations ala “Ball Don’t Lie”. I don’t lie either…..Miami’s NOT tough. Talented, but I agree with Kobe…they’re soft.

Astro Joe

October 4th, 2010
9:45 am

wordsmithtom, I have long thought that Woody messed up Josh in his rookie season when he had him playing basketball without a defined position. Smith was essentially the rover, running around chasing after folk. It’s one thing to highlight a player’s strengths it’s another to exploit his lack of skills. Josh (IMO) has been operating at a deficient level for most of his career. If he were in the 8th grade, he was reading (NBA IQ) at the 6th grade level. I think he started to “catch up” maybe 2 seasons ago. My favorite quote of the off-season was when Lamar Odom talked about Javale McGee and said that he needs to learn more about BASKETBALL because while he clearly is a great athlete, the game isn’t called “Run and Jump”. I think Josh went through that process and is on the good side of it now (and appears to be taking the next step by working on decision-making skills during the off-season). I fear a similar path with Mr. Teague… I struggle to see the light bulb shining above his head. Even this “dog” that NVE will try to bring out doesn’t seem to address the light bulb issue. We shall see. Josh was worth the inevestment in time and patience (and money) because of his size and passion for the game. Not too many teams are willing to go the extra mile for a guard… too many 6′2″ guys out there.

doc

October 4th, 2010
10:38 am

good point nire, seems folks are transient on both ends of the scale here in atlanta. i have only considered the transients in but fail to recognize the flow out. i shoild have by now as i can safely say even going into my sixties that i am somewhat of a novelty on that i can say i am a native. seems the numbers should have caught ip by now if folks were staying. one other fact on cox’s years at the helm the city went from 3 mil to 6 mil. guess major league sports arent that much of a pull at those dollats.

doc

October 4th, 2010
10:46 am

josh has slways put in the extra work duringvsummers to learn frpm the best. he doesnt play lip service by practicing the same stuff as a gym rat but pays othees to teach him. i still see thw drive to ger better and still exprct vontinued greatness from him. by comparison a guy like john smoltz didnt get it right away and needed a head doc to help him out. hope ld can be the influence that woody wasnt. even though sj trashes the move now he many timesxwas exasperatedcwith either woody or josh on the early days.

wordsmithtom

October 4th, 2010
10:58 am

Doc,
I agree on Josh. He has tried to improve his game. He just hasn’t gotten the “me” out of the equation when it comes to fouls. He’s fallen into the “star mentality” thing that says he should be getting fouls. I reitterate. I think he could be as solid as Barkley. Even Barlkey has had praise for the kid’s game. And JS is just now reaching full manhood. I think JS has the most to prove among the Hawks this year….that he can be the STAR, not just think he deserves star treatment. If he shuts his mouth and plays like KMart for example, which he can, all will be well for Hawks.

Astro Joe

October 4th, 2010
11:15 am

doc, yep, you always had faith that Josh would be fine (while I remained a skeptic). But I can certainly see the light bulb above his head now… and I am really impressed with his decision to focus on the mental aspect of his game this off-season. A police officer who works on his sharp-shooting skills, yet often makes poor decisions about when to fire his gun, is of little use to me. If he continues to nurture that muscle ABOVE his shoulders, then he may truly become a force of nature in the NBA.

doc

October 4th, 2010
11:19 am

word, as usual, agree with your thoughts. concur if josh’s emotional game steps up, look out. i think it can and certainly look for it to. if a betting man would put money on it.