Atlanta Hawks: Inside ‘Camp Drew’

L.D. as Spike Lee

L.D. (seated on right) as Spike Lee

Dropped in to Philips yesterday for the last day of Larry Drew’s “clinic” for his assistants. He took five days to school them on the finer points of his offense so they’ll have it down by the start of training camp. The Hawks also will run some “traditional stuff,” L.D. said, but the goal during this camp was to work on Atlanta’s motion stuff.

The lineup: Bob Bender as Bibby, Lester Conner as J.J., Duane Ferrell as Marvin, Kenny Gattison as Smoove and Tyrone Hill as Al. L.D. filled in for Conner late in the session.

(Not exactly the Hawks but, shoot, I wouldn’t mind taking that squad down to the rec league.)

L.D. recorded the session on video so he could show it to his players when camp opens Sept. 28– he said he felt like he was directing a movie, and Conner called him “Spike Lee. There were lots of cracks from the coaches about getting clowned by players once they see their old bodies working this hard. L.D. had to tell his assistants to take it easy a few times.

L.D. (understandably) didn’t want any video in the public domain. So I’ll try to explain what I saw even though pictures would do the job much better than words (also keep in mind the coaches were working against air). . . .

There was lots of motion and ball movement, yes, but what stood out was how much of the action had players cutting to the basket. It seemed there always was an option for the next man in the sequence to either accept the ball while moving to his position or reverse field and look for a cut to the basket. Not everything happens on the strong side, either, so ball-watching and inattentiveness by defenders can mean backdoor baskets.

“It’s very difficult to guard,” Conner said. “You have to be precise in your defensive schemes. You can be beat at any spot on the floor at any time. NBA teams don’t like to guard a lot of movement and screens. I’ve heard the guys [Hawks players] are all for it and are excited about it.”

For weeks L.D. has said his system would “force the ball to move” and I get that now. Things happen so fast there’s not much opportunity for holding the ball. The screens and cuts happen quickly and if the first option is not there then the ball quickly swings the other way, leading to move movement.

Not much possession time is spent on the one- or even two-man game. Each guy gets a chance to touch the ball at different spots on the floor. Decisions must be made quickly for things to flow correctly.

Some of my notes: “pindown screens with curl to free-throw line. . . dribble hand-offs, sometimes with roll man. . . backdoor cuts. . . high-post pick-and-pop. . . flare screens with roll man. . . ball reversal to quick weakside seal post-ups. . . high-low post-ups. . .”

L.D. has some philosophical principles to go along with the Xs and Os. He said he believes his system will work because the Hawks have so many “interchangeable pieces” to work with. Al will play some power forward with Zaza or Twin at center but Drew said the combinations won’t end there.

“We have the luxury a lot of interchangeable positions. We’ve got twos that can be play 3, threes that can play four, fours that can play five. We can even move Josh to the five against certain matchups. You might see the five at the three. You might even see the five at the one. [Regardless of lineup] nothing changes as far as the action on the floor. I want to utilize our abilities as interchangeable pieces.”

Such an approach could make the Hawks less predictable. It’s theoretically tougher to hone in on a player who is deployed at multiple positions and can be used multiple ways within the offense.

L.D. said his emphasis is on exploiting Atlanta’s strengths rather than covering for its weaknesses. For example, here are his views on Smoove playing minutes at small forward:

“He has the ability to erase a lot of defensive mistakes because of his athleticism. I won’t match him up against a lightning-quick guy where he would have to defend multiple screens. But he certainly will be able to play some 3. At the same time, he can be a tough matchup at the 3 as well. You play him at some 3, there is a high probability he is bigger than that three man, stronger than that three man. Certainly the way to take advantage of that matchup is to post him up. We will certainly try to utilize his ability against a smaller guy. It won’t necessarily be about us adjusting to what the other team does. We want to put the opponent in a position where they have to match up with us.”

It’s an aggressive approach. There certainly will be more turnovers. Theoretically there should be fewer isolations and long jump shots. I figure L.D. will have to use his bench liberally, too, if he wants the Hawks to run a lot of motion offense and while also becoming a bona fide defensive team. He’ll have to make lineup adjustments on the fly.

The Hawks are going to have to be in good shape to run this stuff; L.D. said conditioning would a “top priority” early in training camp. The Hawks also are going to have to be precise, unselfish and persistent. L.D. has some work to do with that Woody had a lot of stuff he wanted to run too but he never could coax guys to do it consistently. Things got tough and the Hawks freelanced.

Drew is going to have to break the Hawks out of their iso offense, sometime-y defense mold. It will be interesting to see how he manages it and how the players take to it once it’s time to do the work.

MC

329 comments Add your comment

Shinbo

August 11th, 2010
4:57 pm

I’m excited to see this new system in action!

LD’s vision on Smoove’s minutes at the 3 seems manageable, but he still needs to work on a jump shot if he wants to score in that position consistently…

Leo

August 11th, 2010
5:00 pm

Leo

August 11th, 2010
5:01 pm

Man I just missed first. I can’t wait to see this offense in action. Now, what about defense?

Rev in Tampa

August 11th, 2010
5:02 pm

Ken Strickland & Grandad – Consider yourselves vindicated! What you have been so steadfastly advocating has been described by MC’s post.

jdewayneatl

August 11th, 2010
5:02 pm

Steel (Formerly VenomSpitter)

August 11th, 2010
5:03 pm

LD is the man.

Woody couldn’t get this team to even do a proper pick and roll.

Jason Heyward

August 11th, 2010
5:06 pm

I am better than Marvin.

Fresh

August 11th, 2010
5:06 pm

After hearing this I now understand why the Hawks didn’t waste time with Shaq, but I’m sure a lot of the dumies on the blog won’t smh.

Fresh

August 11th, 2010
5:09 pm

Rev in Tampa,

I agree, Ken Strickland & Grandad been speaking the truth a lot lately. As for a few of the other “well-known” bloggers…smh.

Rufus1

August 11th, 2010
5:10 pm

The sweetest thing I’ve heard in 6 years as a Hawks fan…

Is it me, but does it sound like we could see JJ, Marvin, Josh, AL and Zaza on the floor at the sametime.

dap01

August 11th, 2010
5:11 pm

This is so refreshing to hear. Did you ever even hear a complete sentence from Woody concerning offense?

Rev in Tampa

August 11th, 2010
5:13 pm

I hope it is not in bad form to repost a comment I made back on August 9, but it does seem relavent, even prescient.

“We have the athleticism and talent to throw different looks at teams without changing the personnel. Even our back-ups have these same athletic qualities that give them extra weapons.

Those on this blog that take the negative view on everything will say that the Hawks have a bunch of ‘tweeners’ who are not ‘prototypical’ and, therefore, out of place and ineffective.

Sidenote – Our age, with the explosion of technology and ‘knowledge’, has created the ’specialist’ and the ‘expert’. Nobody sees the need for the ‘generalist’ who can do more than one thing well. I’ve got news for everybody. It is the generalist who can do several things well (not as expertly as the specialist) that run the world. The pin-headed specialists are only able to do one thing well. – Sidenote ended.

When I played basketball in college our point guard was 6′8″. He brought the ball down the court and started the offense. But if we did not score off a set play, and the other team was playing man-defense, then guess where he ended up? Through a series of picks & switches he ended up on the block. He posted up better than I ever could. All I ever played was post. I’ve got board hands and can’t dribble to the other end of the court unguarded, but guess where I ended up while he was posted up on the block. I was at the top of the key.

My point is, when you have a versatile team (as the Hawks have) a player’s position is relative to the other team’s weakness.”

Publix

August 11th, 2010
5:18 pm

Can you imagine a McGhee in this kind of system. The kid is athletic as he can be and still young. He is a true C, which is what we still need on defense!!!! Send Evans, Zaza and Bibby up to Washington for McGhee and a future second round draft pick.

ToeKnee

August 11th, 2010
5:21 pm

L.D. said his emphasis is on exploiting Atlanta’s strengths rather than covering for its weaknesses

Most important thing said above. Gotta love it! this will be the difference between drew and woodson. this was probably something drew noticed that woodson often did that he disliked in past seasons.

MC, do you feel Woodson focused on covering up our weaknesses more than exploiting strengths?(The switching defense, Iso Joe, etc.)

Hoops

August 11th, 2010
5:22 pm

Now we’re talking basketball! Movement on offense makes it difficult on the defense. Players playing multiple positions-WHAT A CONCEPT!!!

Najeh Davenpoop

August 11th, 2010
5:24 pm

Finally some actual, hard evidence of Drew’s new offense, instead of the wild speculation we have seen on the blog since he was hired. Great stuff MC. Looking forward to seeing this in action.

The one thing that occurred to me when I read this, though, was that this would be the PERFECT offense for Josh Childress. I really wish they had found a way to dump Marvin and sign Chills to play SF, or even just sign Chills to complement Marvin at SF.

ToeKnee

August 11th, 2010
5:24 pm

Also loved this line as well:

It won’t necessarily be about us adjusting to what the other team does. We want to put the opponent in a position where they have to match up with us.”

BrittishAnger

August 11th, 2010
5:27 pm

Great Article….Keep it coming…and Bring us up to speed on the rumors about Jamal’s extension talks and why Yahoo’s profile has negative rumblings in their speculation regarding it…

SWAT Native

August 11th, 2010
5:28 pm

Is Duane Ferrell a Hawks assistant? I must have missed that one.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 11th, 2010
5:28 pm

“L.D. said his emphasis is on exploiting Atlanta’s strengths rather than covering for its weaknesses”

I interpret this as meaning he won’t be switching on D to hide Bibby. I would also interpret this to mean he won’t play scrubs at center against bigger opponents just to match up size-wise, but his comments about Smoove at SF lead me to believe that’s not the case.

BrittishAnger

August 11th, 2010
5:29 pm

@Jason Heyward; Well duh, but can you knock down a corner 3 on the regular? If so, give Larry Drew a call….

truthspitter

August 11th, 2010
5:30 pm

I don’t see this working especially considering our bench is full of bums after you get pass Jamal and Bibby or Teague. Even if the new Crawford works out you just have a bench full of guards noone to play the 3. Zaza is a bum 4 out of 5 nights. There are too many ifs with this team including this new system. On the other hand, as I have been stating Josh can play some SF. Also as I have been stating there are not huge, needed changes coming. Al playing more PF just means more time for Zaza who is too inconsistent and does not play a lick of position defense he seems to be in cement when trying to defend. When I looked at the schedule I saw 53 to 54 wins, but with the new system and all the other holes and questions surrounding this team, I think 46 to 47 wins is more realistic and a 1st round exit instead of 2nd.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 11th, 2010
5:32 pm

“This is so refreshing to hear. Did you ever even hear a complete sentence from Woody concerning offense?”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe “I don’t give a sh-t about offense” is a complete sentence.

show me state

August 11th, 2010
5:36 pm

Can’t wait to see this “new look offense” in person…in the season opener @ Memphis…MC will you be attending the season opener? Go Hawks…

Ken Strickland

August 11th, 2010
5:40 pm

Thanks for the acknowledgement REV. After reading this assessment of LDrews motion OFF, is there anyone out there who feels Shaq would have been an asset in this OFF? LDrew intends to do to other teams what they consistently and effectively did to us under Woodson. And that is,

1-wear them down during the gm
2-create match up advantages and exploit them.

Ball and player movement, picks/screens, cutting to the basket, creating and taking advantage of mismatches, routinely playing different players at different positions, using strategies, adjustments and changes, running, using the bench extensively, forcing teams to match up to our strengths, giving rookies and 2nd yr players consistent mins and opportunities, etc, will be staples of LDrew’s approach to coaching the Hawks. And in case you’ve failed to notice, his approach represents the complete opposite of what was experienced under Woodson.

How many of you think the Bulls, and their new additions, especially CBoozer and KKorver, will be able to effectively defend what we’ll be doing? The same question goes for the Bucks and Celtics. DHoward won’t be able to cover for his collection of defensive liabilities(teammates), especially without MBarnes, and at the same time protect the basket with all that will be going on with LDrews OFF.

The Celtics couldn’t handle us when we didn’t us any picks, cut to the basket, or have any player and ball movement. In Drews OFF, Teague won’t be required to direct the OFF, just initiate it. That’s why Drew isn’t overly concerned about his turnovers, or his ability to function effectively as our starting PG, unlike some of our fans. He knows his OFF will take care of itself and the opposing DEF if the players run it correctly. His main focus for wanting to either start or play Teague extended mins is his speed, quickness, penetrating ability and DEF ability. GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Real JC

August 11th, 2010
5:43 pm

This is the most exciting article of the off season, by a landslide. I’m tired of arguing how many quality minutes Shaq could have provided or if T-Mac can still shoot.

We have two All-Stars, a should-have-been-an-All-Star, the reigning sixth man of the year, a promising upstart PG learning from a playoff veteran and a handful of solid role players. And now we have a coach who seems like he knows how to utilize all these guys to their potential. That is just awesome.

JoJo the Godfather

August 11th, 2010
5:45 pm

LD will have to be a master motivator to get the team to buy in to this offense…Do you know how much energy this is going to take to run this night in and night out?…Will Bibby & Collins be able to run this for more than 5 minutes at a time?…Now I know why good “locker room” guys like Powell & Collins were signed…The last thing LD needs is a disgruntled veteran questioning his offense and poisoning the team…Will LD have the chops to yank someone off the floor the first time they don’t buy in to his system?…I’m picturing Hoosiers where coach demands 4 passes before any kind of shot and finises the game with only 4 players because guys won’t buy in.

Michael Cunningham

August 11th, 2010
5:45 pm

@ToeKnee: “MC, do you feel Woodson focused on covering up our weaknesses more than exploiting strengths?(The switching defense, Iso Joe, etc.)”

well, i’d say that Joe in iso is generally a strength but as we saw against Orlando there wasn’t much of a Plan B in the playoffs. that was a big problem. i’ve also described how that approach hurt team morale at times. Woody’s answer to criticisms of that approach was always that the offense was efficient, and that was true, but it was hit or miss in late-game situations and mostly miss in the postseason.

as for the switches, i understood why Woody used them. he had a personnel issue because he had to cover for Bibby and Jamal. but he was strongly in favor of re-signing Bibby so he helped make that bed.

Michael Cunningham

August 11th, 2010
5:46 pm

@BritishAnger: “Bring us up to speed on the rumors about Jamal’s extension talks and why Yahoo’s profile has negative rumblings in their speculation regarding it…”

not sure what that means?

Michael Cunningham

August 11th, 2010
5:49 pm

@ SWAT: “Is Duane Ferrell a Hawks assistant? I must have missed that one.”

he’s a player relations assistant, not a bench coach.

The Truth

August 11th, 2010
5:57 pm

Relative to Woody’s ISO system, this offense system sounds refreshing. However, like an automobile, it will take the right engine (under the hood) to make this “new” car go the distance. The Hawks will need the right personnel, talent and depth to make this a success. The definition of success in this case is to win more then 53 games and/or get beyond the 2nd round. We shall see

GT Alum

August 11th, 2010
5:57 pm

On another subject, so much for the rumor that the Hornets preferred to keep Collison over Paul. If there were any lingering thoughts about CP3 going anywhere, at least within the next 2 years, those should be squashed now.

Melvin

August 11th, 2010
5:59 pm

The Hawks need a backup SF, so Duane Ferrell may need to learn this offense first hand…

LD motion offense sounds like mass confusion. It sounds interesting but I hope it works…

Najeh Davenpoop

August 11th, 2010
6:01 pm

“After reading this assessment of LDrews motion OFF, is there anyone out there who feels Shaq would have been an asset in this OFF?”

The point of bringing in Shaq would have been primarily to help on the defensive end, so that Horford is not left guarding people bigger than him and wearing himself down. In a limited role, there’s no reason why Shaq wouldn’t have worked.

Big Ray

August 11th, 2010
6:02 pm

MC

as for the switches, i understood why Woody used them. he had a personnel issue because he had to cover for Bibby and Jamal. but he was strongly in favor of re-signing Bibby so he helped make that bed.

Well said. That wasn’t his only such move, either.

As for those extolling Ken Strickland and Rev in Tampa …..You’re right. But they weren’t the only ones talking about Woody’s downfalls and LD’s visions. Many have talked of this for years…

Hmmm

August 11th, 2010
6:02 pm

LD is my hero!

SWAT Native

August 11th, 2010
6:03 pm

@ GT Alum: I can’t believe NOLA traded Collison. If CP3’s knees are as bad as some on his blog seem to think, they just made a HUGE mistake.

Michael Cunningham

August 11th, 2010
6:05 pm

@ Melvin: “LD motion offense sounds like mass confusion. It sounds interesting but I hope it works…”

it will make more sense when you see it. there’s a definite flow and rhythm to it.

drmaryb (*_*)

August 11th, 2010
6:13 pm

Ken Strickland is the loudest voice and Grand-Daddy’s the loudest drummer on this board for what MC is describing!

I for one have been beating Grand-Daddy’s drum because I can understand his simple explanation of playing your best 5 and looking for a giuy who is just a basketball – player, regardless of his position number.

Call me simple, but I get it! I also see a vision of the vaunted TRIANGLE in this description of Drews Offense by Michael C.

To me, it does sound complicated and complex! The key part seems to be player conditioning!!! This is NOT an old man’s offense! That explains why no:
T-Mac or Shaq on this squad. This is a young mans game – fellas!

It will take some time to learn and adapt and develop trust and chemistry in this offense. We may start off very, very slowly – and there will be a tendency to give up or get frustrated. It will take determination and character to fight through relapses of free-lancing and old habits!

But aye … That’s why these guys make millions! Reminds me of a
Coach K type system, where he only recruit players that fit into it, which usually means high Basketball IQ’s and not so much athleticism!
I imagine Shelden Williams would be awesome in this offense, not to mention – Battier!

Practice … Practice. …. Practice….”The Big Red Machine?”

I’m so excited!

ant banks

August 11th, 2010
6:14 pm

the hawks will surprise alot of folks this year. we will still be a 3 seed in the EAST. boston ain’t better than us. orlando, miami, chicago will have their work cut out for them tryin’ to keep up with this.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 11th, 2010
6:15 pm

New Orleans seems even more rudderless than the DASG, if that’s possible. Not only did they just give away one of their top 3 players and the only insurance policy against a CP3 departure or injury, but adding Ariza and dumping Posey actually makes their salary cap situation worse.

Oh well. I guess we can throw all those far fetched CP3 trade scenarios out the window.

MannyT

August 11th, 2010
6:16 pm

How long before Pete Carrill is consulting for LD? Sounds like a variant on the old Sac Kings offense when they had Webber & Bibby.

I think this will be a good offense for Marvin. It also uses the personnel that BK kept building when he was here. Offensively, it looks promising. Defensively, I want to see what happens when Marvin is on the bench. Someone has to guard the Paul Pierce’s & LBJs. It should not be Joe (at least not for extended minutes.)

Shame we didn’t get in on that Ariza/Collison deal. Lot’s of moving parts, multiple teams. Sounds like an opportunity to leverage a need a get a useful player.

Rod from College Park

August 11th, 2010
6:18 pm

Apparently Coach Drew thinks Josh can play the 3 also.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 11th, 2010
6:22 pm

I think this is what BrittishAnger is talking about. From Yahoo:

“Aug 6 G Jamal Crawford still hasn’t gotten that contract extension he wanted. It’ll be interesting to see if there is any movement, on either side, between now and the start of camp. There are rumblings that Crawford is adamant about not coming to camp if the sides can’t come to an agreement. Hawks general manager Rick Sund is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to talking about contracts and the stuff that gets thrown out there in the blogosphere from time to time. If the Hawks don’t pay him or trade him, they could very well be entering the season with yet another crucial piece out of place because it appears Crawford means business.”

truthspitter

August 11th, 2010
6:25 pm

I did not see that article about Crawford, but if he insists IMO it is because he knows he will not have another year like last year, his stock is at a all-time high. He can easily be moved and we can get something good for him in return

drmaryb (*_*)

August 11th, 2010
6:26 pm

Blu-Ray
(1080 P)

Spot on Ray! I have been saying as well for years. The only one problem I had with Mr. Woodson, was that the team had no offensive identity and there appeared to be no assigned roles. The offense always looked free-lanced, helter-skelter, hot – potato, street ball … to me anyways.

Just Flashes of Hooks, Dunks. Alley-Oops and Fast-Breaks:
Very opportunistic offense, but very inconsistent as well, therefore scoring droughts in the 4th quarter when the games are on the line.

Also, presented the inability to score in round 2 of the play-offs.
They simply had NO plays to run. This new offense, should solve those old issues! We shall see?

GT Alum

August 11th, 2010
6:26 pm

Rod from College Park, you’ll notice he said play some 3, not play there all the time. You’ll also notice he was talking about doing that in a situation where Josh could post up a smaller 3 and take advantage of a height mismatch, not the prototypical SF role of playing primarily on the perimeter and either shooting jumpers or driving to the basket. There was nothing in there that told me he thinks Josh should primarily play SF.

JoJo the Godfather

August 11th, 2010
6:26 pm

now i get to start my jamal crawford trades of the day…stay tuned.

The Truth

August 11th, 2010
6:27 pm

I hope the defense is just as intriguing because that is what actually wins games. However, if this offense is successful, it may sell more tickets which should make the ASG happy.

UGA

August 11th, 2010
6:30 pm

Chris Hunter? Does anyone remember this center for Golden State last year? He played well against the Hawks and is a free agent