Give LD credit. Dude came out strong on his first official day as Hawks head coach. Some highlights:
– LD does not lack confidence. Before he’s even coached a game, he basically has announced himself as an offensive innovator. Asked if there were any teams or coaches that run similar stuff to what he plans to use, LD smiled.
“No,” he said. “This is going to be unique.”
Could he offer some specifics about the system? For example, will it be based on pick-and-rolls?
“It will have some pick-and-roll in it,” he said. “What it does, it forces the ball to move. That is probably the best way to explain it. Yes, teams will try to lock into it, but there are reads to it. There are triggers to it. It forces the ball to move, it forces the body to move. Now we become more effective. We become a five-man attack team. It puts all five guys in position to attack and to score.”
– What about defense, though? There’s two parts to that one. One is Drew’s view on using switches as a base defense, the other is prodding this group to give consistent effort–remember Al’s lament during the playoffs that the Hawks didn’t push themselves “to the point of being uncomfortable” and that’s what kept them from reaching Orlando’s level?
So, is LD cool with the switches?
“I have my philosophies defensively,” he said. “Certainly every coach in the league does. I am going to implement things that I believe in, certain coverages.”
Could he be more specific?
“I will say this: I believe in holding every individual accountable defensively. I think players are too good. If you get caught up in too many gimmick defenses. . . . We weren’t a big gimmick defensive team, but at the same time my philosophy is to hold guys accountable to defend their individual guy.”
In other words, don’t count in switches to bail you out if you can’t stay in front of your man.
– During his news conference LD called out Smoove for his jump-shooting adventures, which I think is one more time than Woody did it in public since I’ve been around.
LD said he wants Josh in situations where he gets the ball moving to the basket and doesn’t have to dribble much to get to the rim. I mentioned Smoove’s effectiveness on pick-and-rolls with Bibby as an underutilized element of the offense, and Drew agreed.
And what does Smoove think about Drew’s “no jump shots” proclamation?
“He’s the head coach,” Smoove said. “Whatever he wants me to do, I am going to do it. I like to be down on the block, anyway. That’s more high-percentage than the outside jump shot. I know that his offensive plays are going to put me right where I need to be at and everybody else.”
Raise your hand if you think it’s going to be that simple for LD with Smoove.
– It’s not like Woody was calling isos from the bench all the time. Yeah, he allowed it to happen with few consequences, but the bottom line is what he wanted often didn’t translate to the court for more than couple possessions at a time before it disintegrated into isos.
What makes LD think he can get better results?
“It will always be a challenge,” he said. “We have run a little variations of it and our players love it. I don’t anticipate it being a problem putting in more.”
Raise your hand if you think it will be that simple for Drew to get J.J. and the gang to break old offensive habits.
– LD hadn’t yet told J.J. that he plans to implement an offense that won’t allow him to dominate the ball. When they last talked, it was still early in Atlanta’s searching process, so LD said the particulars of his approach weren’t yet germane. LD left Joe a message over the weekend but hadn’t heard back.
(”I respect the position he is in,” Drew said. “I know he is [swamped] with a lot of phone calls. When he can get back to me, he will.”)
How J.J. will react to the idea of playing in an offense where he’s not pounding the ball is one of the big offseason questions for Atlanta. The thinking is that if J.J. can change his style, then he’s very valuable to the Hawks, and if he can’t, then not so much.
Drew thinks J.J. will buy in. A preview of his pitch:
“Kobe, Dwyane, LeBron. . . I think Joe works harder than the three of those guys do to get baskets. I think the things I’m talking about implementing will make life easier for him. It will make him more effective and the rest of the guys equally effective.”
– Don’t read too much into J.J. not being at LD’s presser. The Hawks didn’t expect him to be there under the circumstances. Yeah, Jason Collins, RandMo and Mario made it, but then they weren’t going to get mobbed by media asking about their free-agent plans.
–LD offered more evidence that the Hawks are all-in with Rook’ (I’ve decided he’s Rook’ until the league officially changes years on July 1).
“I believe in both guys,” Drew said. “Both have the capabilities of running this offense; both guys will benefit from this offense. Mike is getting closer to my age, but the thing he brings to table is he can still shoot the basketball. [The offense] will create for him instead of him creating for himself. I believe in Teague. I think he has the ability to make team better and have an impact. I think the offense will benefit him with his speed and quickness and ability to break the defense down.”
In other words, the ball is out of J.J.’s hands, in Rook’s hands and Bibby is a spot-up shooter.
– Raise your hand if you think the Hawks are in trouble if this Rook’ experiment doesn’t work out. Because then wouldn’t the temptation be great to turn it back over to J.J. and Bibby again? Good luck going out and finding a legit vet point guard and a center with that mid-level.