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?
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?