Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew ditching switches

L.D. probably wouldn't consider this a 'switchable switch.'

L.D. probably wouldn't consider this a 'switchable switch.'

(Checking in from a Miami holiday weekend filled with beaches, BBQ and . . . beverages)

We’ve heard about L.D.’s offensive philosophies but what about D? The short answer to what I know is the No. 1 question: Atlanta’s base defense under Drew will not feature switching on all (or most) screens.

But what he hopes to accomplish goes beyond Xs and Os and lineups. L.D. said he wants to develop a true defensive disposition for a team known more for finesse.

“Playing defense, it can be ugly sometimes,” Drew said. “Sometimes guys don’t like to do the ugly stuff, the dirty work stuff. Good defensive teams, their mindset is to go into games and outwork you. They don’t care how they do it. They do whatever it takes to shut you down. They have that aggressive mentality, where each game they go into it thinking ‘I am going lock in on my guy.’ and that works its way to the rest of the guys. You have to have that team concept and that aggressive mentality.”

A fanatical devotion to shutting down opponents is a trait of all true contenders. Atlanta’s lack of that quality has to rank at least alongside strategy and personnel as a major reason the Hawks have been a middling defensive team.

The Hawks ranked 13th in defensive efficiency last season, 11th in 2008-09 and 13th in ‘07-08. They were 24th in defensive rebounding rate in ‘09-10, 24th in ‘08-09 and 26th in ‘07-08. Atlanta’s rank in opponent true shooting percentage was 19th last season, eighth in ‘08-09 and 18th in ‘07-08. You can keep going down the list of ways to measure defensive performance and lately the Hawks rarely ranked in the top 10, never mind the top 5.

Defense is another area where L.D. is going to have to find a way to get more out of the guys he’s got. Changing their mentality is the obvious place to start. Drew has to galvanize a group that wilted so badly against the Magic. He has to help his players reach the “uncomfortable” effort levels that Al said they didn’t reach last spring.

There are familiar questions about Drew’s roster, too. It’s the same group of defenders (with an asterisk next to Jamal’s name) that couldn’t contain the perimeter. It’s still a power rotation that lacks a menacing 7-footer in the middle. It’s the same group that too often looked to Al and Smoove to go to work on the boards.

Does L.D. think he has the horses to play good, tough, straight-up D?

“I think we have the personnel to do it,” he said. “That’s why I use the term ‘accountability.’”

One way to annoy NBA players is to talk to them about defensive “stoppers.” So many times I’ve heard guys, especially guards and wings, scoff at the notion. There is no such thing, they say, because there are too many good offensive players and the hand-check rules make it nearly impossible to stop those kind of guys straight up.

Point taken, and L.D. said it’s one he recognizes. That’s why he said he there will be times when switching and other help-type schemes will be necessary.

“I think you have to make a decision on how you want to guard certain people,” he said. “Certainly game-by-game, adjustments will be made defensively. But you go into the game with the mindset of guarding your own people. I think we are deep enough we can get that kind of defense out of our guys.”

Drew said he doesn’t want that to go so far with tricking up the D that players use it as a crutch. You could see that happen with the Hawks last season. Players became so reliant on the switches that they tended to relax in anticipation of screens. Why fight through picks to stay with your man when he can be always be passed off to a teammate?

“I know exactly what you mean,” L.D. said. “You are not the first person I’ve heard say that. Different coaches have different philosophies on how they do things.”

The switching defense has its advantages. It can be effective against pick-and-rolls. It helped the Hawks cover up some of their limitations (even if it also could create other problems). But I think there is no question that using switches so liberally blunted Atlanta’s defensive aggressiveness.

Getting away from the switches is a matter of strategy for Drew, whose goal is for the Hawks to make only what he calls the “switchable switches” that don’t leave them in clearly bad matchups But ditching switches also is a matter of mindset.

“We need guys locking in and focusing on what the defense calls for,” Drew said. “We have the tools for it. We have some areas where got to get better at, but I think overall we have the tools to be a good defensive team. That is the challenge I am going to put to the guys.”

– Nothing new on the Jamal front. He still wants either a satisfactory contract extension or a trade but the Hawks still haven’t indicated if he will get either.

– French club Le Havre announced on its Web site that it has completed a buyout of Pape Sy’s contract. The Hawks haven’t received the paperwork and so don’t consider the deal to be official but they are optimistic there will be no snags.

MC

666 comments Add your comment

joBjo

September 6th, 2010
6:11 pm

ditch the switch

JeJe

September 6th, 2010
6:16 pm

How have the Hawks not even replied to Jamal’s request?

Worst PR in sports

Jesus

Sara

September 6th, 2010
6:26 pm

I read on the Boston Globe that Jamal isn’t demanding a trade anymore.

Josh Kinsey

September 6th, 2010
6:27 pm

LD keeps saying all the right things. But I have to reserve judgement until I see the new offensive and defensive philosophies put into effect come October. Go hawks!

Follow me on twitter @jkinsey60 for all things sports.

Saint Richt

September 6th, 2010
6:43 pm

Who cares, still not good enough to compete…..please sell the team…………..

moboman

September 6th, 2010
6:51 pm

Jamal can demand anything he wants, but he’s under contract for another year. The Hawks dont have to respond unless they want to. The ball is in no ones court.

jason

September 6th, 2010
6:55 pm

im telling u we might be winnig more than 60 games under LD’s unpredictable offense/deffense

steve brown

September 6th, 2010
7:29 pm

I now have hope. Drew on defense in this blog unveils basketballs golden rule, if I shut you down and beat you, I don’t care who scored what or who did what dunk or who was the biggest show boat. I’m just happy to beat your brains in (in a manner of speaking of course).

Rev in Tampa

September 6th, 2010
7:36 pm

Drew opens his mouth again and, as usual, there is more to like. TEAM BASKETBALL!

truthspitter

September 6th, 2010
7:40 pm

This LD hype is getting really annoying. This team simply does not have the personnel to be good. Bibby nor Teague nor Jamal care to guard anyone and all is too small for the C position. Those are the two most important defensive positions and we fail out front and on the backline.

truthspitter

September 6th, 2010
7:42 pm

Correction: Al is too small

This LD hype is getting really annoying. This team simply does not have the personnel to be good. Bibby nor Teague nor Jamal care to guard anyone and Al is too small for the C position. Those are the two most important defensive positions and we fail out front and on the backline.

hmmmm.........

September 6th, 2010
7:51 pm

hmmmm.........

September 6th, 2010
7:51 pm

O'Brien

September 6th, 2010
7:57 pm

I dont know what kind of coach Drew will turn out to be. But I will say this. He has said all the right things. And he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

This team is a veteran team, so the players need to buy in from day one. And even when things get rough, they need to buy in even more.

Personally, I like what he is saying. And I agree. The switching has its benefits, but it should not be “switched all the time, every game”.

And I think that is one of the reasons why our guys were out of position for defensive rebounds. That, and they did not have the mindset necessary.

dos2

September 6th, 2010
8:01 pm

I dont watch basketball much, but when I do I prefer the hawks, stay thirsty my friends

Rev in Tampa

September 6th, 2010
8:14 pm

Al is too short. Teague, Bibby, & Jamal don’t believe in playing defense. Marvin is so bad that he should just quit playing basketball. No 7′ except Cheeseburger. The ownership group is useless. The general manager is on a perpetual vacation. There is no team leadership. This team has no heart.

WOW! Woody overacheived with this bunch of loosers. We own him an apology, his job back, and a big kiss on his rear.

jamillion

September 6th, 2010
8:30 pm

why you guys always say what a person does bad. when will you look at what a person does goodhell you guys are so quick to say smoove doesn’t have a jumpshot. thats like me saying chris bosh can’t shoot threees or has a killer cross over.hell d howard can’t shoot thres, dribble, have a go to move, shoot free throws, or make good passes, but i bet orlando isn’t tripping off what the best center in the gamer can’t do. hell rondo doesn’t have a good j ray allen isn’t a good defender, paulpierce can’t elevate to block a shot to save his life but the c fans don’t complain about what they don’t have.we have four players ranked in the top 30 inthe league and yall tripping about other stuff that s irrelevant.GO HAWKS

Clyde

September 6th, 2010
8:35 pm

Give me Angel McCoughtry over Joe Johnson’s ungrateful azz anyday

Clyde

September 6th, 2010
8:35 pm

How bout ditching Bibby

Rev in Tampa

September 6th, 2010
8:36 pm

jamillion – co-sign

Clyde

September 6th, 2010
8:38 pm

How bout ditching our “superstar leader” who doesn’t care if the fans spend their hard earned money to show up for the games.

Rufus1

September 6th, 2010
9:09 pm

Picture

Al guarding Rondo says it all…..Oh who is Bibby guarding and where. Watch Josh and Al’s rbs go up this year when eliminate the Switching.

macaroni Tony

September 6th, 2010
9:13 pm

truthspitter

Please could you tell me what team has the personal to achieve with the offense that LD is trying to use. We have a team that has won 100 wins in the last two years so I would be please to know your answer.

doc

September 6th, 2010
9:17 pm

ditto josh, been saying it for months to maybe years. ummm only, dont lollow me on twitter. i can be reached right here to the chagrin of some folks, i imagine. ;-)

i wonder if drew was really salim in disguise or some other blogger who disappeared? no, not ando either. drew has just about said the same things the collective here has said for the last three years.

doc

September 6th, 2010
9:19 pm

jamillion, what is your problem? did you grow up with a mother that loved you? ;-)

Sautee

September 6th, 2010
9:33 pm

truthspitter,

If Al is too small, why did the coaches name him to the All-Star team?

Do you know something the Head Coaches of the league do not?

newkid

September 6th, 2010
9:33 pm

New HC, new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, and same 1st 8-9; quick study, no problem.

Jesse

September 6th, 2010
9:41 pm

Kind of hard to get excited about the team when they haven’t done much to get better, and a lot of the other teams have….

Hawksfan4life

September 6th, 2010
9:57 pm

MC, if the hawks were to trade jamal, do u think anyone would be a interested in giving up a productive point guard or “impact center” for him, and if so, any names u had in mind?

Front Runner

September 6th, 2010
10:00 pm

We shouldn’t even play the season. We should all just quit—just go somewhere and lie down in a ditch and wait to die. Or we should just sit in the corner and stare at the walls until the season’s over.

It’s hopeless. We will lose every game. Every other team is better than us. We should get rid of every single player we have and get other players that are better. We should get rid of our coach because he obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing. And our GM is a moron who no one in the NBA respects, and he has never built a winning team in his life.

Also, I am a fan of every team except for the Hawks. Every other team is good except for them. The last couple of years I was a Laker fan, and three years ago I really liked the Celtics. Now I pull for the Miami Heat, because they are true winners. I really like LeBron.

Like it or not, I am the Front Runner. And I am the face of your Atlanta sports fan.

JC

September 6th, 2010
10:04 pm

Enter your comments here

Astro Joe

September 6th, 2010
10:09 pm

I hope it works according to Drew’s master plan.

Vols

September 6th, 2010
10:11 pm

Jamal Crawford for Rudy Fernandez and Andre Miller, make it happen.

truthspitter

September 6th, 2010
10:18 pm

Sautee

September 6th, 2010
9:33 pm

truthspitter,

If Al is too small, why did the coaches name him to the All-Star team?

Do you know something the Head Coaches of the league do not?

What, that’s just stupid? Why do people have sex with others that they really don’t like?, because its not about the person but the sex. Al was adequate enough out of the weak crop they had to pick from. You make no sense at all.Al nor David Lee are big enough to play C but they were both on the all-star squad because the position is very weak in the East other than Howard.

Barton

September 6th, 2010
10:20 pm

I like the way he’s talking.. Drew seems to be wanting the Hawks to play the kind of basketball I’m watching Coach K’s US team playing. Tough-nosed defense and motion offense… I literally cannot wait if this is what they come out playing. We need to stop worry about getting exploited and start doing our own exploiting.

truthspitter

September 6th, 2010
10:23 pm

macaroni Tony

September 6th, 2010
9:13 pm

truthspitter

Please could you tell me what team has the personal to achieve with the offense that LD is trying to use. We have a team that has won 100 wins in the last two years so I would be please to know your answer.

“The ends justify the means” son and the Hawks ends have spoken quite loud to there means. Meaning they will get another lopsided exit home during the playoffs, but this time it will be in the 1st round just to show all of you blind dudes that they don’t have the means to compete. It’s okay to be optimistic but don’t be fools.

macaroni Tony

September 6th, 2010
10:27 pm

Its seams to me that you talk loud but its no truth to what you say. I ask for an explanation as why you feel that why and then you say we always have a lopsided exit. I think that these other teams are good on paper but they are going to show us what they have under the hood, because we are a good team on the court not just paper

Rev in Tampa

September 6th, 2010
10:40 pm

truthspitter, I love the debate, especially when someone disagrees with me because it makes me think outside my assumptions. But you are bringing a little unnecessary vinegar toward others with whom you disagree. The problem with that is the temptation to respond in kind. And that downward cycle never ends well.

Lots of love.

Sautee

September 6th, 2010
10:50 pm

truthspitter,

Dave Cowens – 6′ 9″ – 230

Wes Unseld – 6′ 7″ – 245

Both in the Hall of Fame and both named among the 50 greatest players in the NBA. Size doesn’t matter as much as heart, desire, and basketball savvy.

Horford has all three.

Rev in Tampa

September 6th, 2010
10:50 pm

But keep bringing the passion…

Publix

September 6th, 2010
11:12 pm

I still don’t believe that we have the depth of Boston, Miami, Orlando, and maybe even Chicago go compete for anything serious.

We are still in need of a true C and a better SF who can score 15-20 points and average 5-8 rebounds.

Why can’t we trade Marvin, Evans and next year’s draft pick to Philly for Hawes. He is still very young and a great prospect. Philly would definitely go for it, because they have Brand.

PG- Teague/Bibby
SG- Crawford/ Crawford
SF- JJ/ Pape Sy
PF- Smith/ Powel/ Thomas
C- Horford/ Hawes/ Zaza

Now, this team looks pretty deep to me.

J from the A

September 6th, 2010
11:23 pm

Am I the only one that thinks Mo is going to flourish (for a bench player) under this motion offense?

Mo is very athletic … I think a lot more than we give him credit for. From time to time last season, we saw flashes of real potential out of him … he can move very well without the ball … and, if given the opportunity, he knows how to finish strong. I honestly see Mo going from semi-scrub status to a player genuinely worthy of very good rotation minutes on a very good team.

Big Ray

September 6th, 2010
11:31 pm

Drew speaks about defense, and candidly so (without giving up any insider plans). Of course, it’s more fun to be smartass about it, so why bother saying anything positive?

cp

September 6th, 2010
11:44 pm

I just hope the guys buy into it. A lot of times it looked like some didn’t even try to defend and didn’t want to get down and dirty. Their mentality has to change and hopefully it does. I wonder if they go with the guard your man or you sit mentality they had in the summer.

Rev in Tampa

September 6th, 2010
11:48 pm

I’ve been waiting to hear more about drew’s defensive, but my basketball IQ is not high enough to start an intelligent discussion focused on the defense. Help me out.

Sleepy

September 7th, 2010
12:17 am

LOL @ everyone saying perimeter defense is the problem . The problem is we are small inside and everyone knows it . Id love to hear about the team with the best perimeter defense that doesnt have an defensive bigmen anchoring it. Do our guards have to take ownership on some of it ? YES but its a reason why guards dont titles by themselves unless there name is MJ .

For all there talent Al and Josh are not good enough to get us a title and never will be. They are not elite and just dont have the size to allow us to compete in the playoffs best teams .

Defensive efficiency ? roflmao the Teams at the top of that ranking have dirty work guys at the C and PF who are happy to be that while we have two guys who want the numbers and star status.

What do you think would happen to the Celts if Perkins and the rest of their bigs became more worried about shots and touches than rebounding and defending ?

But I already know we are gonna waste the next 3 years before finally deciding that Al and Smoove are simply too small to be our C and PF tandem if we want to get out of the 2nd rd .

Jody

September 7th, 2010
12:23 am

Sleepy,

Co-sign all the way. Great post.

Hawk n the Ham

September 7th, 2010
1:01 am

So did LD get the head coaching job by saying, “I read the AJC Hawks blog, and I know what the fans want.”, in his interview?

Grandad

September 7th, 2010
1:18 am

Defense;
sorry Rev, you may have already turned in for the eve.

Rev, I’ll not get into X’s & O’s because NBA rules affect
defense much more than offense.
For example; HS or collegiate teams play man to man with
zone principles. (help side defense) NBA defensive 3 second
rules severely limit this strategy.
Therefore what LD is doing is demanding a mind-set [attitude]
or hard nosed mentality as opposed to trickeration or finesse.
Bob Knight always said there are two types of [defensive]coaches:
(1) surprise & change = Dean Smith
(2) do one thing, but do it “well” = Bob Knight fit this category.
*or even Jim Boeheim fit category #(2) as a zone coach.

One thing LD needs to do is ensure that Joe is on board.
He cannot let Joe slide. Joe must become the toughest SOB
on the team. Joe may not be verbal but he must be the best
and toughest defender/stopper on the team.
Why?
Simple, he makes the most money.
Joe has never been asked to do the dirty work.
I’ll ask anyone on this board…..have you ever seen Joe
dive for a loose ball?
Now – he must, he has to, there’s no other way.
Josh works his tail off on defense every night.
You wonder why Josh gets his ass up on his shoulders sometimes.
Figure it out.
There is -no- star system on defense.

I’ll close with this;
I don’t particularly care for Kobe, but I *respect him.
*[basketball]
He has figured out how to lead.
With the exception of Artest – Kobe’s their best defender.
Nuff said I’m out.

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

September 7th, 2010
2:08 am

Accountability = players stepping up and man handling their opponent or stepping to the bench. Very refreshing term coming out of the woody era.