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

Astro Joe

October 4th, 2010
11:22 am

BTW, the Boozer injury helps Smith’s chances at the All-Star game. I was worried that the arrival of Amare and Boozer to the confernece (joining KG & Bosh) may hinder his chances. But with Boozer missing a good part of the first half of the season, that eliminates one brand name from the All Star PF candidates.

niremetal

October 4th, 2010
9:23 pm

And now I give you a special, unsolicited niremetal primer on how the new salary cap might affect Al Horford’s restricted free agency. This is cross-posted from Hawksquawk. A guy there said “who knows what the rules of restricted free agency will be? For all the Hawks know there will be no Restricted Free Agency anymore and Horford could be made an unrestricted free agent.” Here was my reply:

[T]he restricted free agency terms are written into Al’s current contract. The CBA cannot alter existing contracts. It can only set the terms for new contracts that are signed after the CBA is in place. So the terms of Al’s restricted free agency (ie the amount of the qualifying offer, the Hawks’ right to match offer sheets, etc) are all set in stone. The new CBA can’t alter those. In the NBA as in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, a contract is a contract is a contract.

The rules can, of course, impact the external rules in which his contract operates. To use an extreme example that would never happen, say that the new CBA provides for a hard $55M salary cap. As of today, the Hawks are committed to $53M in salary for next season. Assuming that’s still the case next summer (ie assuming the Hawks make no trades), the new salary cap would prevent the Hawls from matching another team’s offer sheet for Horford unless they first trade another player. But that is separate from the terms of the contract itself – even with the hypothetical $55M cap, the Hawks would still have the right to match an offer sheet for Horford within 7 days (as long as they could clear enough cap space), since the terms of his contract give the Hawks that right.

It’s confusing, but the rules about the salary cap and the rules governing restricted free agency are related but separate. NBA player contract contain standard terms that are provided for in the CBA. The CBA affects those contract terms if and only if the contracts are signed after the CBA is in effect. Restricted free agency are one set of standard terms that are included in all contracts for certain categories of players. The rookie scale contract is another example (thus, the new CBA won’t affect Teague or JC2’s salary next year). There also are standard terms requiring the team to pay for the player’s transportation and lodging for road games. And other terms allowing the contract to be terminated under certain conditions (gambling on team games, violating league drug policy, etc). Etc, etc, etc. All of those rules could be changed in the new CBA, but that wouldn’t affect the rights and responsibilities of players whose contracts already contain those terms. Restricted free agency rules are like that. They aren’t like salary cap rules.

niremetal

October 4th, 2010
9:30 pm

Since y’all have a slightly longer attention span, here’s a small addendum:

I said that: “All of those rules could be changed in the new CBA, but that wouldn’t affect the rights and responsibilities of players whose contracts already contain those terms.” There’s one semi-exception to that. In some cases, the uniform player contract references documents and rules outside the contract, and those documents and rules are subject to revision. To use an example, the uniform player contract states that a player’s contract “may be terminated in accordance with the express provisions of Article XXXIII (Anti-Drug Program) of the CBA.” The Anti-Drug Program, in turn, references a list of prohibited substances. That list is subject to change. Thus, if the NBA banned alcohol tomorrow, a player’s contract could then be terminated if the player is caught drinking even though alcohol was not prohibited at the time the player’s contract was signed.

There’s nothing like that in the RFA rules, though. Those are set in stone.

Melvin

October 4th, 2010
11:29 pm

This year Celtics team will be a traveling Circus. And this is after they waive Rasheed…

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshh576zG2EnjDBP9g2m

Melvin

October 4th, 2010
11:43 pm

Hmmm, pretty fair analysis by Hoopsworld..

http://www.hoopsworld.com/teams/Rankings.asp

wordsmithtom

October 5th, 2010
5:06 am

Seeing that scrimmage footage of Twin leading fast break was great! No more “Cheeseburger” Collins. Twin looked tall, lean and QUICK. No look pass too. Who is he!!

Zaza looked quick too, slashing from high post with a feed. Saw a lot of movement on this quick piece of footage. A sign they’re taking to LD’s playbook.

vava74

October 5th, 2010
5:43 am

Encouraging footage:

A lot more ball and player movement in general and the guys looked pump up with what they were doing.

In particular:

Teague’s release looked slightly more fluid (maybe I am imagining things).

Bibby looked faster.

Etan showed a good post move against Zaza

Zaza slashed to the basket with good footwork and showed good court vision (I think he will be a good passer out of the post for us this year)

Josh was active on all fronts (offensive board, steal and two fast break finishes)

Collins looked rejuvenated with an offensive board tapped in by Josh, a jump shot and a fast break assist.

Jordan had a pretty good move on JJ

JJ was working inside for a lay up out of high post pass by Zaza (this is a zone D buster folks)

O'Brien

October 5th, 2010
1:13 pm

I think one way the hiring of LD is helping so far, is he knows what a lot of the issues are first hand, so he did not have to watch tape.

He knows that Josh likes to whine and complain to the refs, so what does he do? Make him co-captain, and stress the importance of not whining, starting in practice.

He knows what Teague’s shortcomings are, so what does he do? he goes out and gets NVE specifically for Teague’s development.

He knows how the switching was ineffective at times, so his coaching staff will have assistants responsible for the defensive principles, and the players are well aware of their responsibilities too.

He knows about Marvin’s struggles, so his plan is to define his role. He knows about the failures of the ISO offense at times, so he has a motion offense to get others involved.

Hopefully, all these moves will translate into wins, because I am looking forward to a 50 win season.

O'Brien

October 5th, 2010
1:18 pm

Will we win 53 games or more? I dont know. But what I do know, is Cleveland won 126 regular season games over the last 2 seasons, and they did not even make it to the NBA finals.

And I do know that the Hawks won more regular season games than the Celtics, but the Celtics made it to the NBA finals.

So if the Hawks only win 48 games, and then lose 4-3 in the second round of the playoffs, I will be ok with that, even if that is only considered “losing better” as AJ puts it. 3 wins in the second round would mean that we are that much closer to making it to the ECF.

But I do expect improvements during the season (less stagnation on offense, more road victories, better defense etc).

Astro Joe

October 5th, 2010
1:44 pm

OB, the Celtics won the title and have proven their ability to beat elite teams on the road. The thought that we can make the ECF as a 4/5 seed is wishful thinking at best. Our core has not made it to game 5 of the 2nd round, the same cannot be said of the core of the Celtics, Heat (Wade & LeBron) or the Magic.

The disconnect for me isn’t “can we win less in the regular season and go further in the playoffs” the disconnect is why we would expect to win less in the regular season? Same roster, better coach. Yes, injuries may play a role, but isn’t the notion of a better coach the utilization of the bench? When Vegas posts odds, do they comtemplate player injuries or do they assume some baseline of health? So assuming some reasonable baseline of health, why would we win fewer games with the same roster and a better coach? Of COURSE, if we have a slew of injuries, a flu bug that wipes out the starters for a week, an attack of bed bugs at a sleazy motel in Cleveland or any number of unexpected developments, that can be used as reasonable explanations after the fact. But if you’re drinking the Kool-Aid of the sacred core, Drew, deeper big man rotation and JC2… then how can one reasonably say that it all adds up to fewer wins?

My expectation is 50+ wins… again, assuming a reasonably healthy season amongst the top 9-10 players. We hit 47 2 years ago with each member of the starting front court missing 10 or more games (and a much lesser bench).

Melvin

October 5th, 2010
1:46 pm

OB,
Agreed with your post. LD paid his dues and I believe he’s ready for the big chair. So why not give him a chance here. Especially since he’s familiar with the team…

Doc,
Make sure you look at my 11:29 post, you will enjoy it. You may have to scroll down the page to see the video of the Celtics gone Wild.

O'Brien

October 5th, 2010
3:42 pm

AJ,

I think 50+ wins is a fair expectation (if everybody remains healthy).

I know that its a new system offensively, but the players should be talented enough (plus LD is very familiar with their talents), so even if we start slow, we should finish strong.

Astro Joe

October 5th, 2010
4:34 pm

OB, I agree. The biggest problem would be early injuries before the new schemes become second nature. That would impact the overall learning curve. If we’re lucky, the key players will “get it” sooner than later. The fact that Drew believes that he can install the entire offense before the season starts suggests that the playbook isn’t phonebook thick nor Calculus (which is good, because I still have doubts about the aptitude of some of the players).

Melvin

October 5th, 2010
4:34 pm

Thursday night can’t get here quick enough. We will finally have a chance to analyze some actually basketball instead canniblogging each other…

doc

October 5th, 2010
4:42 pm

yeah melvin, hope they dont get too tight wanting to make good. they got some shake in there dont they?

Melvin

October 5th, 2010
8:16 pm

DWade went down tonight with a sprain hamstring… You never know when injuries will rear its ugly head…

Melvin

October 5th, 2010
8:17 pm

Yeah doc, alot of shaking….

vava74

October 6th, 2010
3:06 am

The nausea levels where high after just one quarter.

In one short sequence:

Bosh made a back door cut and had an unopposed jam after a very good Lebrat pass. His reaction? He made that hideous “i’m the man” shout with his arms clenched… what a jerk… as if he had just done an in your face…

Then, shortly after Lebrat benefits at the top of the key from an incredibly illegal screen by Haslem and goes to the rack… no moving/pushing screen call there (the Piston’s Defender ended on the floor on account of the pick).

Next play, Lebrat goes to the rack, swishes the layup and gets the plus 1. Misses the free throw and the rebound somehow goes back to his hands in the ensuing huddle… what happens? He blatantly travels giving at least 5 steps until he manages to put it back.

No call again…

Astro Joe

October 6th, 2010
10:12 am

Vava, imagine if Pat Riley were coaching the Heat… they would NEVER be called for any violation. I’d love to see the Heat have a tremendous regular season and then lose in the 1st round of the playoffs.

joe white

October 6th, 2010
2:14 pm

This is a wait and see year. so lets hope for the best GO HAWKS

Astro Joe

October 6th, 2010
5:34 pm

Every player met Drew’s standard of under 7 minutes.
Joe Johnson had the team’s fastest time at 5 minutes, 30 seconds.

The guy with the fattest pockets runs the fastest time in his new coach’s conditioning test. I don’t think that Joe has EVER been the problem in terms of work ethic on this team. And any player who chooses to pay attention would do well to follow his lead. But it requires that the player pay attention because Joe isn’t the type to wave his time in the face of his teammates. But that is one of the reasons dude is a 4X All-Star… because despite the FAT pockets, the alledged affinity to the previous coach and his almost-30-ready-to-breakdown-body, he beat all of his teammates, many of whom are younger (and should be hungrier) and showed his new coach that he is ready to go.

But hey, not everyone wants to learn… or some take longer to learn than others.

Melvin

October 6th, 2010
9:02 pm

Watching the Celtics/76ers game. The Celtics look very motivated. 27 pt 1st half lead while holding the 76ers to 22pts. The C’s will be strong again this year…

niremetal

October 6th, 2010
10:59 pm

AJ,

Or it could be that Joe is just, you know, faster ;) . I don’t disagree that it’s a good sign for Joe, but it’s not necessarily a bad sign for his teammates. Mid-distance running is not merely a matter of effort. It’s also a matter of technique and natural ability. I wouldn’t be surprised if Allen Iverson ran the mile faster than Shane Battier, but I don’t think that would necessarily say anything about either player’s work ethic or “hunger.”

vava74

October 7th, 2010
3:29 am

nire,

I know that it’s merely an example, however, I doubt that Iverson would manage to run the mile under 7 minutes, at least not without emptying all his pockets and laying down all the heat he carries.

I bet he carries about 15lbs of firearms and “cutlery” even during practice :-D

O'Brien

October 7th, 2010
7:16 am

Some good comments from the ajc article about Drew’s offense.

“I can see a trust factor starting to take place among the group because they know where everyone is now,” Drew said. .

More proof to me that players were not buying into the ISO offense. No wonder we had breakdowns and stagnations.

“You feel like you are part of the offense, so that motivates you a lot,” Hawks center Zaza Pachulia said. “Obviously everyone knows there is only one basketball on the court, but it makes you want to get the defensive rebound or set a good screen. You are not getting bored offensively like used to before . This is something new.” .

vava74

October 7th, 2010
8:21 am

OB,

Zaza’s quote is just a verbalized confirmation of what we all could witness last year.

When either JJ, Jamal, Josh and Al (in this order) had their allotment of ISO touches the rest of the guys on the floor all yawned bored like hell…

vava74

October 7th, 2010
8:49 am

Not even radio coverage for tonight’s game????

Astro Joe

October 7th, 2010
9:49 am

Zaza played behind an All-Star center and saw his minutes cut with Al’s development. I expect sour grapes from him. I also recall that he dealt with physical issues last year, so let’s see if his positive attitude results in better health and play. (BTW, when you play fewer minutes and your team wins more, how must that feel).

nire, true. But still interesting that given time to prepare for Drew’s conditioning test, the man with $120M in his pockets got around the track faster than others. Yes, it could be based solely on natural ability for that specific exercise or it could be that Joe comes ready to compete. Right or wrong, I’m going with the latter.

Astro Joe

October 7th, 2010
9:55 am

nire, one more thing, if I were a SMOY trying to get a contract extension, I’d figure out a way to finish first. We’re not talking about competing with Olympic track athletes… if I felt like I had “something to prove”, I’d start by showing my dedication to the team and new head coach.

niremetal

October 7th, 2010
10:17 am

Astro,

5:30 is PDQ for a mile run, especially for athletes playing a sport where all the running is point-to-point sprinting rather than continuous, sustained running. Those require different techniques and use different sets of muscles. I actually wrote MC a long email explaining that Drew was going about it all wrong by having the team run the mile instead of testing them by running suicides. I’m not a fan of Jamal right now, but I don’t blame him for not being able to run the mile faster than 5:30. I would be a bit surprised if there were more than a dozen or so NBA players who could beat that time.

That being said, based on physique alone, Crawford “looks” the most like a middle distance runner (they usually have some definition, but also are somewhat gangly). I’m a bit surprised he didn’t crack Zaza’s 6:07 time.

Astro Joe

October 7th, 2010
10:32 am

I don’t know how much notice they were given about the mile test, but if I had a point to prove regarding my contract status, I would have made my way to someone’s track with a stop-watch and would have started training like Edwin Moses the day I got Drew’s notice. If coach said sub-7, I would have trained for sub-6. And I sure as HECK would not have allowed Zaza to beat me out… not if I am trying to prove myself to the powers-that-be.

vava74

October 7th, 2010
4:38 pm

Nire,

May i intrude? I usually run 6 miles for conditioning and my pace – when I was in “tip top form*” – was to do it in 47/48 minutes or so (* tip top for someone who drank, ate and did all sorts of nonsense stuff – i.e. not an athlete).

Since I have become a father (twice) I am now doing the 6 mile run in 55 to 65 minutes (depends on the day).

All this to say that although I am far from being an athlete I have some running habits and I have an (ho)opinion on the subject: the mile run is IMO a good “measuring stick” for basketball since bb involves 5, 7, 10 minute shifts of more or less continuous running (in particular with a motion offense) whilst suicide sprints imply a maximum of 2/3 minutes of explosive exercise which may end in exhaustion which should not be what we need for our guys.

Also, although JJ’s mark is not impressive from a purely athletic point of view, it shows not only ability, but also a kind of leadership and commitment in line with what we hoped he would do (his quotes of late have also been encouraging).

Finally, on Jamal, we should not forget that apparently his back has been tight which may have played a factor.

doc

October 7th, 2010
4:58 pm

i dont care sh!t about a mile run.

i care about movement on 96 feet of territory and a mike run doesnt correlate to playing basketball on any scale. it does suggest the guys be accountable for meeting a standard and that is all. congrats to ld for asking players to do it and for the players for succumbing to it. that is all that needs to be said.

on the other hand, do you think doc rivers could get his band of merry men to care about it and they all would laugh in your face for suggesting it would be necessary as a first step to a championship? let’s see, big baby doing the mile like astro doing a race to the frig. slow no matter the carrot out there.

h3ll i even did a five minute mile when swept up in a peachtree road race. i could never play basketball though in the nba for sure. sorry no big deal.

doc

October 7th, 2010
5:28 pm

full disclosure, i would be equally as slow as astro. :-)

Sautee

October 7th, 2010
8:13 pm

Hey, if AJ was running to a cheesesteak, he’d be twice as fast, eh AJ? ;-)

Astro Joe

October 7th, 2010
8:28 pm

Trust me, I compete quite well in my profession… and if i were a pro athlete, I feel fairly confident that I would compete quite well in that arena too.

Astro Joe

October 7th, 2010
8:43 pm

I’m watching the only televised game that I can find, Nets-Celtics and I have to say something that I have been thinking for a while… Devin Harris is WAYYYY overrated. Whew, I feel much better now.

Astro Joe

October 7th, 2010
8:49 pm

ajchawks Smoove sulked a bit after no call. Larry Drew barked at him to get back on D

doc

October 7th, 2010
9:33 pm

new sheriff in town eh aj?

Big Ray

October 8th, 2010
12:03 am

Geez, all this talk about running. Where’s my recliner? Ahhhh, that’s better. :)

Big Ray

October 8th, 2010
12:10 am

I see we lost an overtime shootout against Memphis. More on that later…

wordsmithtom

October 8th, 2010
8:10 am

I see LD stayed with the plan first exhibition. He said starters would play about 50% of the game and reserves the rest, all depending upon player availability. Only MW played more minutes than the rest. He was feeling his shot, so why not….plus we have few options at 3 with Mo out and JC1 not able to backup JJ to free him for duty at 3.

Teague and Marvin…what can I say. Looked good. Bench blew a lead against their starters? Not good, but not bad either. Learning experience for them….Memphis starters should whoopas our scrubs, especially at this stage of the season.

JC2 needs to work on shot selection. But….you can’t coach the desire to fire with the game on the line. Kid never flinched, just took it. He’s got the fire! Liked that JJ said he would continue to encourage JC2 to take risks. He’s not ready….but he’s a serious sleeper in this draft, no doubt: good pick. Hope he gets enough minutes to keep his head in the game over the season. Practice against NBA talent will help him, but if he doesn’t play some, it’s hard to keep one’s head focused.

Astro Joe

October 8th, 2010
11:30 am

Good for Shareef. Also, good to see a franchise find a role for their former players.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=At4y4tjnnKmOl2BuHNJGOSO8vLYF?slug=ap-kings-abdur-rahim