Atlanta Hawks: Players say Drew isn’t Woody 2

LD, second from right, moves over to Woody's spot (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

LD, second from right, moves over to Woody's spot (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

It wouldn’t be a bad thing in the larger sense if LD is another Woody. In the aftermath of the recent postseason disappointment, it’s easy to forget Woody led the Hawks to one of their better seasons after helping them rise up from their status as laughingstocks. But Rick Sund said the Hawks needed “another voice,” after all, so there’s some understandable skepticism when they hired Woody’s right-hand man to be the “new” voice.

Clearly Atlanta believes LD offers something distinct from Woody. The Hawks hired him after rejecting not just Woody but his entire program. Promoting his lead assistant means they don’t think LD got much of a chance to put his stamp on that program. And the Hawks are telling you that not only do they expect LD’s way to be better than Woody’s way, but that he’s the guy to guide them to the next level even though he’s never been in the head coach’s seat before.

Anybody making snap judgments about the legitimacy of those views is just guessing. Sund and ASG made their choice. LD gets his shot to win over skeptics. At some point it will become clear if he’s the right choice.

I talked to some players this weekend, and all of them said they expect LD’s approach to be different than Woody’s. Drew often ran the second-team offense in practice and was said to deploy creative sets, with one player describing them as a “fun” departures from the isolations. Another player said when things went badly for the Hawks, LD tended to be more of an “encourager” than a “screamer” and focused his energy on laying out a detailed plan for how the Hawks can get better.

The players have better insight into LD than the rest of us, and so it’s significant that he enjoys wide support among them. But they can’t be sure how Drew the assistant will work out as Drew the head coach. His relationships with players will be tested. Now LD has the final say on how the run the team, including playing time and touches, and players inevitably aren’t going to like some of his decisions.

It’s probably not much different than most real-life workplaces when your direct boss becomes the “big boss.” It happened to me at a previous job. I knew that when my supervisor became the department’s boss our relationship would necessarily change. Where once he would go into his boss’s office as my advocate, and sometimes privately agree with my gripes, suddenly I was griping to someone else about his decisions. We talked every day when he was my direct supervisor; when he became the department head and had wider responsibilities, sometimes the explanations came down through the chain of command, and sometimes not at all.

I knew that when he was promoted my boss had to put some of that “command distance” between us. I’m not saying I always liked it but I accepted the circumstances and did my job. It’s not an exact analogy, I know, but Hawks players now have to do much the same with Drew. It’s part of being a professional.

That raises another important point. It’s not just ASG, Sund and LD who are under pressure. The players have a lot to prove, too. It’s fair to critique Woody’s strategies, his management of the team, and his failure to bring along Rook’. But, in what’s probably a common NBA tale, the players whom Woody treated like pros and gave some degree of say in their working conditions eventually let him down (and that’s before you even get into the issues with his roster, which is another blog altogether).

The players credited Woody with creating a loose atmosphere that made it enjoyable for them to come to work but then they didn’t get serious when it was time to do so. Woody backed off from the long, hard and frequent practices players didn’t like and in the end they didn’t work as hard as they should. Woody gave them on-court freedom (especially J.J.) and instead of taking that trust and becoming a free-flowing offensive team, they became a selfish “get mine” kind of team–and resisted Woody’s efforts to get them to share the ball.

Now Hawks players get a replacement for Woody whom they know and like. The new voice in charge is a familiar one and the internal hire causes fewer disruptions and less uncertainty. As one player said, now it’s up to him and his teammates to support Drew by getting on board with his program, respecting his decisions even if they don’t like them and sacrificing for the team.

Otherwise, no matter if LD draws up better plays, holds all guys accountable and develops the next Rook’, he might end up just like Woody did in the end.

MC

399 comments Add your comment

Mike Woodson

June 13th, 2010
7:09 pm

First. Who cares? I got LBJ 23 :)

Billy D

June 13th, 2010
7:11 pm

Very interesting, good article. I’m a little nervous about the whole situation. I think they needed an entirely new voice. I kind of doubt a first-time head coach can take them to the “next level”. Drew sounds like a great assistant. Wish they kept him there and hired Casey but, we’ll see.

STEEL (Formerly VenomSpitter)

June 13th, 2010
7:11 pm

I told these clowns that LD is different from Woody

STEEL (Formerly VenomSpitter)

June 13th, 2010
7:14 pm

I wonder if it was Al who is the “player” u are talking about.

Al is by far the most mature player on the team.

vava74

June 13th, 2010
7:18 pm

“Another player said when things went badly for the Hawks, LD tended to be more of an “encourager” than a “screamer” and focused his energy on laying out a detailed plan for how the Hawks can get better.”

This sentence can be used to clarify what went wrong so many time under Woody.

An example?

When we were getting burned due to Woody’s insistence in playing the switching D against teams that exposed and exploit it, I am definitively sure that Woody’s sole reaction was to shout for more effort instead of looking into himself, acknowledge that the switching D sucked against certain types of adversaries and that it was up TO HIM to chance things.

The same applies for our offensive droughts.

Woody was a coach with 1 plan and 1 plan alone and his only answer for a failure was probably to preach “MORE EFFORT”.

cdog

June 13th, 2010
7:29 pm

.why is it when someone leaves or is fired we tend to remember them for bad reasons?something went right with mike woodson coaching.he won 53 games.lets see us best that this season.

82Dawg

June 13th, 2010
7:31 pm

Sometimes the unknown is the best answer….let’s hope so!!

Knowledge Quest.

June 13th, 2010
7:31 pm

Who cares the that he and Woodson arent twins? An apple never fall far from the tree. He will now be under Woodson’s shadow.

His mentor has taught him well and he is charged not to match woodson but to exceed him. There is the challenge. The bar is at 53 wins and getting to the second round of the play offs.

For this to be a improvement the hawks will have to advance to the semi-finals with effectively the same squad. Then I can say clearly this was a move in the right direction.

Otherwise we are just pissing in the wind, and Sund not only looks like an idiot but has an advance degree in idiot-ology.

Finally, all bets are off if the Hawks get a much needed starting center because that would be a clear upgrade of the tools woodson lacked in his arsenal.

vava74

June 13th, 2010
7:32 pm

cdog,

If JJ leaves, it may not be possible to compare Drew’s work with Woody’s.

ray allen

June 13th, 2010
7:32 pm

the problem……….ASG (to many broke folk)

Touche'

June 13th, 2010
7:36 pm

Great Call C-Dog. Mike Cunningham tend to write with a negative slash towards Woodson. He is clearly bias. Woodson did a remarkable job here and will always have a large fan base here. I just hope the hawks can continue where he left off and improve.

I agree Knowledge Quest, the bar has been set. and hes got to do it with as Truth Serum say’s ;1 3rd string all NBA player.

steve brown

June 13th, 2010
7:36 pm

Woodsen got out at the perfect time, the acme of his Hawk coaching career. No one in his or hers right mind really think the Hawks can go much further than they have. Woodsen will eventually get a good contract somewhere, he has the growth record to support it.

The main reason Drew was hired was to give them a shot at signing Joe Johnson. It is that simple. However, he has paid his dues and I wish him the best.

Knowledge Quest

June 13th, 2010
7:39 pm

Roger that Touche’, Cdog. He is actually ahead because hes starting from the foundation that Woodson has already built. He’s not starting from 13 wins and a bunch of attitudinal rookies. He now got experienced veterans that Woodson groomed.

Sautee

June 13th, 2010
7:45 pm

Hey Truth-serum,

Did you find that link yet? You know, the one about Shaq’s supposed “thumb injury” that made him “announce” that he wouldn’t play in the All-Star game?

I think you are lying again to TRY to discredit Horford. But prove to me that you are not, and I’ll apologize.

vava74

June 13th, 2010
7:48 pm

Truth Serum,

You are indeed one (several) of a kind!

How come you don’t get tired of what you do over here is something that bewilders me (and the rest of the sane population)…

Anyone can win 13 games with an NBA roster. Anyone.

I am not saying that Woody did not have some good characteristics but his bball knowledge was very limited and when you add stubbornness, you know why he has not been getting any calls from NJ, NO, CHI, PHI, CLE, …

Whopper Dawg

June 13th, 2010
7:52 pm

I hope I am wrong, but normally moves like this don’t pan out.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 13th, 2010
7:53 pm

“Anybody making snap judgments about the legitimacy of those views is just guessing. ”

Exactly.

Good luck Larry Drew. Hope you improve on what Woody did.

In other news, I will be wearing my Al Horford jersey to Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals on Tuesday at Staples Center.

JeJe

June 13th, 2010
7:53 pm

“the players whom Woody treated like pros and gave some degree of latitude in their working conditions eventually let him down”

FIRE WOODY

JeJe

June 13th, 2010
7:57 pm

IT TOOK WOODY 6 YEARS TO WIN 53 GAMES AND THAT’S A TOUGH NUMBER TO BEAT, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT ASG WILL NOT INCREASE PAYROLL.

SO DREW IS IN A TOUGH SITUATION. WOODSON SMUGLY SAID “NOTHING BUT GOOD THINGS HAPPENED IN MY 6 YEARS”

LOL

Michael Cunningham

June 13th, 2010
8:00 pm

@Touche’: “Great Call C-Dog. Mike Cunningham tend to write with a negative slash towards Woodson. He is clearly bias.”

true, never wrote a positive thing about the guy or defended him from critics, especially not in the very post you are commenting under and certainly not in the very first paragraph.

Paul Hewitt

June 13th, 2010
8:01 pm

I would have been a better choice!

Michael Cunningham

June 13th, 2010
8:02 pm

@Knowledge Quest/Touche’: using a different handle to agree with yourself is lame.

jroc

June 13th, 2010
8:06 pm

I hope the Hawk players don’t let Coach Drew down like thet did poor Woody.

jroc

June 13th, 2010
8:09 pm

Hey MC how do you feel now that the coach search is over do you feel the hawks got their man or is it wait and see.

Sautee

June 13th, 2010
8:11 pm

MC,

That’s because so few others agree with him, LOL!

But posting as several different posters is not the lamest thing Truth-serum does.

That would be outright lying to discredit our All-Star Center. Which he has done repeatedly.

Astro Joe

June 13th, 2010
8:12 pm

MC, so it sounds like Woody expected some passes out of those iso sets… given that the players didn’t repsond to his request to share the ball at the same time describing the offense as iso-heavy.

Let’s hope the players recognize the difference in the new relationship as you described in your real-world example. That would show a tremendous amount of maturity if they recognize that a head coach has different responsibilities (and pressures) than an assistant. Screw the schemes and strategies, Drew needs to nurture a locker-room leader so that his is not the lone voice demanding excellence and effort. Going from a 50+ win team to a truly elite team will require a peer leader or two to hold others accountable.

Michael Cunningham

June 13th, 2010
8:14 pm

@jroc: i’m just the lowly beat guy. all that matters is the Hawks think they got their man. so let’s wait and see how it shakes out. i’m curious to see.

doc

June 13th, 2010
8:16 pm

at MC, too funny.

Michael Cunningham

June 13th, 2010
8:17 pm

@ AJ: well said . . .

Dub C

June 13th, 2010
8:19 pm

You know, it’s been said here so many times over the last 2+ years that the Hawks won in spite of Woody, not because of him. Maybe that’s why there are not many positive comments written about him. There were way too many negatives with his coaching style.

TROTTINGHOME

June 13th, 2010
8:37 pm

Ain’t no might about it…he will end up like Woody.

If Woody created a loose and fun place to come to work and gave them space to create the kind of offense they wanted and the leaders of the team choose to be selfish and disrespect Woody by not working with him…then we got major issues with the player leadership.

Tmac

June 13th, 2010
8:47 pm

i don’t know if LD can take the Hawks to the next level, but there are a few things that can make this squad a better T-E-A-M.
1. Do not constantly switch on defense.
2. Do not constantly run an isolation offense.
3. Develop the young players from the beginning of the season to help in the end of the season.
4. Be able to adjust correctly during a game.

If LD can get this Hawks team to do these 4 simple things, he will make this team better and supersede Woody. And make the team much more enjoyable to watch!

Hoops

June 13th, 2010
9:11 pm

Guys,

Who do you think LD will hire as his assistants?

ALEXANDER

June 13th, 2010
9:23 pm

THE HAWK SHOULD WIN AT LEAST 50 GM OR MORE IF JJ COME BACK..THEY NOW HAVE A COACH NOW THAT WILL MAKE CHANGE IN HOW THEY PLAY..RUN RUN RUN RUN

JSS

June 13th, 2010
9:25 pm

@ Michael Cunningham…
When is he going to release his assistants? Is there any chance we’ve seen the last of Tyrone Hill?

dstdeelite

June 13th, 2010
9:27 pm

I hope the players are watching the Finals. Some actual offfensive sets and……..oh no….ball movement….and the dreaded….TEAM WORK

JSS

June 13th, 2010
9:28 pm

@ Davenpoop…
Go to Waco’s and have a Fish Taco for me! Where you sitting?

o.O-Mac-Town -Macon, Georgia- Westsider-O.o

June 13th, 2010
9:29 pm

I’ve been reading all of these posts on different blogs about Joe and how screwed we’d be without him. I dont necessarily see it like that. Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson do not like contact and settled for jumpshots alot. It costs us several games late. I dont care who or what combination of players, but find me a PG and SG that dont mind contact and putting the ball on the floor and taking it strong to the rack for higher percentage shots and more fouls on the opponent/free throw trips for us and I’d take it. When we combine that new element of the offense, along with better movement on offense (we cant be ANY worse in that dept, right?), Horford, Smoove, Marvin, Crawford, Evans, Teague and whatever we can get from the draft and FA ….and we should be better.

Hoops

June 13th, 2010
9:31 pm

If the Celtics can run, so can the Hawks! Are you kidding me! Look @ those ‘Ole Guys’ run!

MannyT

June 13th, 2010
9:32 pm

The quirk about the NBA (& MLB) that doesn’t fit MC’s analogy is the power of the promoted. Your promoted boss in most industries has an easier time getting you fired. These guys are guaranteeeeeeeeeeed! Leverage is about relationships and playing time.

Hoops

June 13th, 2010
9:36 pm

The Celtics are motivated. The Hawks could use some of that!

Terrell

June 13th, 2010
9:38 pm

o.O-Mac-Town -Macon, Georgia- Westsider-O.o,

I don’t know what games you watch, but the ones I see is when JJ is driving and he gets wacked but doesn’t get the call.

O'Brien

June 13th, 2010
9:47 pm

If JJ comes back, I hope the team realizes that although he is our best player, he is not the team leader. We can’t have a leader that only leads by example.

As constructed, our leader should be Horford. Hopefully Drew will realize this and will encourage Horford to be even more vocal. And hopefully players (including JJ) will listen to him.

o.O-Mac-Town -Macon, Georgia- Westsider-O.o

June 13th, 2010
9:53 pm

Terrell, I want guards that drive it and take it up strong.
Joe drives it and then puts up lazy floaters. Maybe he would have gotten more calls if he actually went hard to the hoop.

northcyde

June 13th, 2010
10:02 pm

Is Woody coaching the Lakers? They sure are switching off of that pick and roll a lot. And poor Derek Fisher looks like Bibby in the 08 playoffs, trying to guard Pierce off of the switch.

mykhalc

June 13th, 2010
10:08 pm

speakin’ of new realtionships…if JJ returns i hope he realizes that he is NOT the real leader the Hawks need. and whomever it is, i hope he’s READY for his new place in the hierarchy…IF he returns!!!

@doc…gimme CHILS at the 3 and sit Marvin’s a$$ on the bench or wherever you want to put him…except on the floor (i know Chils is your man doc)

BILLY KNIGHT

June 13th, 2010
10:08 pm

LARRY DREW WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU BOY WOODY I LEFT SEVERAL MESSAGE AND HE STILL HAVE NOT RETURN MY MESSAGE?

Ken Strickland

June 13th, 2010
10:08 pm

KNOWLEDGE QUEST- You’re using the same flawed thinking that got Woodson fired. How can you say the bar for LDrew is 53 wins when RSund plainly stated that the bar for Woodson would be how well he and the team preformed during the playoffs. Why would it all of a sudden change for LDrew?

BILLY KNIGHT

June 13th, 2010
10:09 pm

LARRY CALL ME BRO

MannyT

June 13th, 2010
10:12 pm

…and a reality check for folks that cannot believe Drew got the job.

If Drew wins one game in the 2nd round of the playoffs, he has done what Woody did not.

If he gets out of the 2nd round, he’s done what no Hawks coach has done in the past 35 years or so.

Several big name coaches are guys that got a shot when their head coach wasn’t good enough and they needed someone else to take them to the next level. The Lakers did it after winning a championship with Paul Westhead (Hello Pat Riley). The Bulls did it after consistently losing to the Pistons in the playoffs (Calling Phil Jackson). The Knicks sor of tried it with (Hang on to that leg, Jeff van Gundy. Even the coveted Avery Johnson got a chance after the mad offensive genius, Don Nelson, got madder with the Mavs.

All that said, he got 2 years with an option for a 3rd. Not exactly a lifetime contract.

As a season ticket holder, I’m neither jumping out a window nor putting my 401k on the Hawks to win it all. For the moment, I’m more interested in how he fills out the staff, who’s on the summer league roster, and what the final roster looks like. These are things that will happen before Larry Drew gets a notch in his official NBA coaching record.

In the meantime, if you want to worry about something coach Drew has controlled, check out his camp page.
http://www.svbabball.com/larryDrewCamp.html