Atlanta Hawks: Camp Report Day 9

So today I was telling Larry Drew it looks like the team’s decision on which of the young point guards to keep is an important one. Because that player is likely will actually have to take on a significant role on a team looking to the playoffs until Kirk Hinrich returns.

I guess my usual reporter’s stoicism was betrayed by my skeptical expression.

“I’ve got my hands full,” Drew said. “Is that why you are giving me that look?”

Yeah, he got me. The candidates are a second-round pick who hardly played last season, a rookie free agent and a D-League star. It could be that one of them is a player but it’s not the best situation for a good team looking at a break-neck schedule to start the season.

But unless the Hawks eventually decide to add a veteran, this is where they stand. I can tell you Pape Sy, Brad Wanamaker and Donald Sloan all have looked strong at times during training camp, but what happens when the Hawks actually need them to help win real games?

We may soon find out. The Hawks get two exhibition games to evaluate them and then it’s time to start the season.

“Right now we are staring at one of these younger guys being the backup,” Drew said. “Yeah, you can swing Tracy [McGrady] to a little one and Joe [Johnson] can bring the ball up, too. That’s not something you are looking to do on a permanent basis, a 66-game schedule. We can’t ask that of Tracy or Joe. So we are really taking a look at the young guys: Sloan, Wanamaker and Pape.”

The good thing is all three players are aggressive going to the basket, though their styles differ.

Sy seems most comfortable catching the ball on the swing and then going hard to the hole before the defense can rotate and react–remember how many times Drew pleaded with his regulars to do that instead of shooting Js last season?. Sloan is explosive off the dribble and would be the only Hawks player other than Jeff Teague you could say that about. Wanamaker uses his strength to get in the lane and pre-draft reports rated him as more of a passer than Sloan.

I’m not sure how to evaluate their defense given that there’s not much to go on. In Sy’s case, it’s those cameos from last season and for Sloan and Wanamaker it’s a few minutes during these intrasquad scrimmages.

The rookies are smart, too.

Sloan: “Coming in I tried to grasp it right away that, ‘I need to be giving this man the ball, I need to be giving this man the ball.’ That’s my job, and coming in with a lot of energy.”

Wanamaker: “In order to make the team I’ve got to show Coach I know where the players belong and where their comfort zone is.”

Sloan tore up the D-League last season but he said it didn’t take him long to figure out this is different.

“It’s very physical, I will say that first and foremost,” he said. “The talent level is unbelievable, which I knew that coming in. You’ve got All-Stars like Al and Joe and even Josh [Smith] and guys like that. I am just taking it day by day and trying to learn something new each time I step between those guys, even Teague. It’s just a learning process.”

I liked Wanamaker at Pitt–I remember how he got in my Cards a couple times. His first step is ordinary but he looked good muscling by guys in college and is doing the same thing in camp. I’m curious to see how he does against bigger NBA guards–maybe we’ll see him vs. Gerald Henderson at some point on Monday.

“I have a nice body so I tend to use it a lot when I have an angle on the guy,” Wanamaker said. “Getting in the lane and making a play is my job, so that’s what I do.”

Both Sloan and Wanamker said they realize the Hawks are looking to keep a young guard. The Hawks have 12 players under contract, with all but Magnum Rolle and Sy guaranteed. But they’ve already invested a significant sum of cash in Sy–remember, they paid about $125,000 to buy out his contract with the French club and he made $473,604 last season.

Wanamaker said “competing for a job makes it funner” while Sloan said the decision is out of his control.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and Wanamaker, guys like that,” Sloan said. “To come in and adapt to change fast and take in everything they’ve been given us and execute at the same time. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that. The decision will be on them at the end.”

Camp report

  • The Hawks released Charles Garcia and Zach Graham. The roster is now down to 16 before the first exhibition game at Charlotte on Monday.
  • The Hawks had a spirited scrimmage at the end of practice today, complete with trash talking and complaining to the refs. “It looked better than last night, that’s for doggone sure,” Drew said. “I didn’t sleep last night.”
  • What didn’t Drew like? “The minute the lights went on we reverted back to old habits. As I told the guys this morning before we started, they put in 10 really good practices where they did things with a lot of energy and a lot of urgency. And we reverted back to some old habits last night. A lot of things we worked on defensively, things we talk about—not just defending and stopping plays but causing havoc defensively–we didn’t play that way last night in the scrimmage. The minute the lights went on we thought about putting on a show for the fans.”
  • After appearing lethargic last night, T-Mac suddenly looked alive during the portion of scrimmage I got to watch. He was making shots, finding cutters with sharp passes and making quick moves to the basket. He bragged about it all, too.
  • Josh looked strong in the post and protected the rim with vigor. He drew a charge from Jeff Teague on a fast break. He did some talking, too.
  • Al Horford was better in the post than he was last night. He set up Zaza Pachulia with a couple shoulder bumps to the chest but instead of the spinning baseline J he went with a quick running hook that was effective. He got an and-1 out of it once.
  • Zaza and Vladimir Radmanovic worked a couple nice pick-and-pops. They seem to mesh well together. Zaza said Vlad, who is Serbian, doesn’t speak Russian like himself. “Our common language is English,” he said. Ain’t that America?
  • Teague had some shaky defensive sequences. Sy and Sloan had some blow-bys in which Teague just seemed to lose focus and Wanamaker just bulled his way past Teague into the lane. Teague’s shot hasn’t looked good yet.
  • Joe Johnson picked up where he left off from last night. He looks ready.
  • Sy seems to relish getting to the rim. His teammates seem to like that about him, too. I’m not sure if he’s not a better two but L.D. keeps saying he’s a one, so we’ll see.
  • Rolle didn’t finish practice because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. “I tried to play through it but then I just couldn’t do it,” he said. “it got to the point where I didn’t t want to make it worse.” He said he wasn’t able to get the proper treatment for the condition during the lockout but should be back on the court after a couple days of care.
  • Drew said he still hasn’t decided how he will divvy out the minutes for the game on Monday. “I do know everybody won’t play,” he said. So we might already be able to draw some conclusions by who plays how much. That makes sense since roster decisions have to be made quickly.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

127 comments Add your comment

JSS

December 17th, 2011
11:37 pm

@ Steve W…
Assets don’t always add up to liquidity! How much of all of that is leveraged?

O'Brien

December 17th, 2011
11:38 pm

Great interview on the last blog MC (and Tim Tucker).

Michael Cunningham

December 17th, 2011
11:42 pm

@O’Brien: thanks . . . i think the only thing i forgot to ask him about is selling the Lakers jerseys at Philips. i thought about it just as he was jumping in his car to leave, and he was in a hurry. maybe next time.

O'Brien

December 17th, 2011
11:42 pm

MC,

Sy seems to relish getting to the rim. His teammates seem to like that about him, too. I’m not sure if he’s not a better two but L.D. keeps saying he’s a one, so we’ll see..

Jamal was also a better 2, but that didn’t stop LD from playing him quite a bit at PG.

O'Brien

December 17th, 2011
11:44 pm

FTPB; From a Jeff Schultz blog in June this year;

And so, we give you ESPN The Magazine’s ninth annual “Ultimate Standings” of 2011. The magazine ranked all 122 sports franchises, including those who might be moving to Winnipeg.

Their eight criteria were bang for the buck (wins vs. revenue in the last three years); fan relations; ownership (the word “honesty” was invoked); affordability; stadium experience; players (effort and likability); coaching; and title track (championships won or expected in lifetime of current fans).

The Braves and Falcons fared well, ranking 19th and 20th, respectively. You’ll have to go lower to find the Hawks and Thrashers.

Lower. Still lower. Almost there.

The Hawks rank 103rd, a huge drop of 59 spots from last year’s No. 44 ranking. The Thrashers rank 115, and it’s not surprising what dragged them down the most — ownership..

I’m surprised Gearon didnt blame ESPN the magazine too.

Joe.Jeff.Smith.Leuer.Bogut

December 17th, 2011
11:45 pm

“If guys come in here not focused on a championship, just making the playoffs, we need to trade them. We need to be talking about a championship and nothing else. You can’t limit yourself to just playoffs. Who wants to do that? Playoffs is not really an achievement to me. Anybody can get to the playoffs.”

- Stephen Jackson, injured Bucks forward

Hawks trade HORFORD NOW. No more budget moves (Space Cadet Radmanovic, The Artist formerly known as T-Mac)

T-Mac is looking for a free Big Meal. Stack as well. Who wants to win and avoids being a backup for us like the plague? Mike Redd.

Joe.Jeff.Smith.Leuer.Bogut

Melvin

December 17th, 2011
11:46 pm

Watching the Kings/Warriors game and Cousins is not playing. He’s sitting on the bench (with a sour face) in his warmups. I haven’t heard why he wasn’t playing but I would guess it’s more of a CD than injury. It’s been reported that he’s had several attitude problems since he was drafted by the Kings. Anyway, if made me think. How many would be willing do a trade for Al for DeMarcus Cousins? The Kings would probably have to package another player to make the salaries match but the base of the trade would be AL for DeMarcus.

JSS

December 17th, 2011
11:47 pm

@ Michael Cunnigham…
When you interviewed Gearon, did he really make that Schultz comment with a straight face?

Are they really going to into this season with a real plan for using the D-League? Are they keeping Reno as their D-League affiliate?

Joe.Jeff.Smith.Leuer.Bogut

December 17th, 2011
11:50 pm

Ignoring that Sy is a shaky shooter, O’Brien that creates a logjam.

What didn’t Drew like? “The minute the lights went on we reverted back to old habits. As I told the guys this morning before we started, they put in 10 really good practices where they did things with a lot of energy and a lot of urgency. And we reverted back to some old habits last night. A lot of things we worked on defensively, things we talk about—not just defending and stopping plays but causing havoc defensively–we didn’t play that way last night in the scrimmage. The minute the lights went on we thought about putting on a show for the fans.”

Old Habits Die Hard. Trade PF Horford.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 17th, 2011
11:50 pm

I am open-minded about the possibility of Sy being an NBA caliber player, but I haven’t seen anything to convince me that he can handle the ball like a point guard at the NBA level.

And if his role on the team just ends up being an energetic wing defender who can get some points off the ball, I only hope he can do that close to as well as Damien did.

Michael Cunningham

December 17th, 2011
11:52 pm

@JSS: Gearon believes some of the Hawks coverage by the AJC columnists is unfair. he mentioned it several times.

Reno is still the D-League affiliate. not sure of their plans to use it. the hectic schedule may dictate keeping the end-of-bench guys around.

JSS

December 17th, 2011
11:56 pm

Man, this is going to be interesting then…

Grandmaster JeJe

December 17th, 2011
11:57 pm

So we are not signing Stack? *yawn*

I MUS WRITE

December 17th, 2011
11:59 pm

Al Horford”s ceiling is Otis Thorpe…..Wait Thorpe had a nice post game Al not so much

JSS

December 18th, 2011
12:01 am

Nobody except for maybe Niremetal has complained about the tone (by the columnists) more than me in comparison to the Braves and the Falcons. Still, I just understand how they can be so tone deaf to what the perception is out in the real world?

JSS

December 18th, 2011
12:03 am

“just don’t understand” sorry…

Carrlos Lyles

December 18th, 2011
12:10 am

lol the start to the season is going to be interesting… they play some tough point guards..

Joe.Jeff.Smith.Leuer.Bogut

December 18th, 2011
12:29 am

Otis Thorpe had a handle that led to scoring. Horford leads to passes for your perimeters.

Our perimeters…Josh Smith and Marvin Williams.

Gearon Should be ashamed,

Maybe

December 18th, 2011
12:47 am

Kobe’s getting a divorce. Vanessa filed first. He loses Lamar AND Vanessa in less than a week? Damn…..

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

December 18th, 2011
1:02 am

The Spirit Group likes to blame everyone but themselves for the Hawks failures.

So Yeah...

December 18th, 2011
1:19 am

Horford and Smith are the same height, and Smith has the better hops, yet Horford has always outrebounded him. Getting rid of the only guy who seems to care about hitting the glass, on a team that ranked 28th in rebounding last season. Only an idiot would endorse that. LOL.

Ra'mon

December 18th, 2011
1:28 am

MC, great piece earlier with Gearon.

I must say I criticize the franchise as much as anyone. But I can’t truly say I read anything Gearon said, and didn’t see where he was coming from at all. As I said the other day, Cuban prolonged Dallas’ championship, when he let Steve Nash get away. Dirk, Nash, and Finley should’ve played 6 more seasons together, and they would’ve beaten the Lakers, Spurs, and Pistons!

I think though, the problem with ASG, isn’t more so how much they spend on players. However, it is how much they spend on their staff (management and coaching). They’re not spending nearly as much on coaches as other play off teams! They’re routinely employing the cheapest coach and GM. And that’s where everyone get the feeling that they’re cheap!

Ra'mon

December 18th, 2011
1:33 am

So’Yeah, if you add Josh’s and Al’s defensive rebounds and blocks together, Josh has more. A handful of Al’s rebounds come off of shots that Josh forced to be altered, or that he blocked. And lets not compare the steals also. Josh is a proactive player, while Al is a reactive player. Al doesn’t create plays on the offensive end, or on the defensive end. Al is more of a product of system and coaching.

atl dominique

December 18th, 2011
1:34 am

What about kito Benson

Grandad

December 18th, 2011
2:04 am

Michael,
I’m very appreciative of the Gearon article.
His answers were manure. [my reckoning]
I do appreciate you trying to give him a feel for
the mindset of [we] your blog people.

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
4:12 am

OUR ASSISTANTS SUCK.

BOB BENDER
TYRONE HILL

LMSAO

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
4:22 am

Plantar fasciitis. Wow our bigs will rot this yr.

AMNESTY DBASKG

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
4:24 am

MC great blogs. Excellent work.

What are your thoughts on Josh losing this weight? If he is mostly playing the 4, I feel this is bad and he will be injury prone. You gotta have meat on them bones if you want to bang in the post. No homo

superiorblogman

December 18th, 2011
5:03 am

Lost interest in this garbage team already

Dawg

December 18th, 2011
6:54 am

MC: Great update. It is hard to believe that any NBA team would go in to a season with so little experience at PC and Center. Those are the most important positions. The Hawks don’t seem to get it.

The problem with the Hawks management is that the fans are smarter than the management. The whole NBA knows it and that is why no one really wants to come here.

The ASG is horrible.

Marcus

December 18th, 2011
7:13 am

MC,
any talk of the Hawks picking up ex-CHI Bull Keith Bogans? I haven’t checked the FA list to see if anyone else snagged him.

Indy Hawk

December 18th, 2011
7:49 am

I just cant put my finger on it,but i still feel like something is missing. Were so close, but i think we need better leadership to steer us in the right direction(coaches and players).

drmaryb.[*_*].

December 18th, 2011
8:10 am

Getting to The Point!

” Sloan is explosive off the dribble and would be the only Hawks player other than Jeff Teague you could say that about. Wanamaker uses his strength to get in the lane and pre-draft reports rated him as more of a passer than Sloan.” -MC-
_____________

IDK anything about Wanamaker nor Sloan, but from what I’ve read on here it sounds like Wanamaker has more of a NBA body type and could be that change of pace RB type
to spell Jeff Teague and give other teams a different look.

If he can back smaller PG’s down in the paint and post them up – he may work.

Teams defenses aren’t just going to let sloan cross them up play after play once they game plan for him. With Jeff being a smallish PG, I’d probably go with the bruiser for his back up.

But, hey what do I know? Aren’t there any veteran PG’s we can get? I’m not feeling too many more rookies and undrafted FA D-Leaguers.

Cwebb

December 18th, 2011
8:13 am

If you had no hope for this team, you wouldn’t post everyday…
It’s always a pleasure to read your blog MC, appreciate it. I’d like to have your job.
But I’m always surprise to see the negativity of your bloggers.Piss me off…
Go Hawks!
Prove them wrong

Dawg

December 18th, 2011
8:26 am

Gerran and Sunds answers are an insult to people who keep up with the Hawks at all.

Smith is not a small forward, we have one PG on the team. We have no center. We are not dumb. This is not a core. This is not a core. This is not a core.

KevinM

December 18th, 2011
8:44 am

Melvin, I like your thinking and you know talent when you see it. Cousins is talented; he just needs some add’l attention. You think Cuban would limit his funds to keep Cousins positive? I just think the Hawks wouldn’t do what is needed to help Cousins become more mature. My wish out of that draft was to somehow get him because he fit the lineup here……but LD is not a strong enough or impressionable coach for a Cousins.
GMJeJe, kudos to you for the last 2 blogs….you call it as you see it, and you have 20/15 vision when it comes to this organization.
If we aren’t going to make a move, Sloan should get 1st crack at Teague’s backup minutes. I like both he and Brad, but Solan has more poise about him.
If Marvin is going to get 30 minutes, then tell m to focus on being our defensive presence. Is that possible? I think we’ve seen what we are going to get out of Marvin, so let’s quit hyping camp reports about a taller, more fluid Marvin….he still jogs most of the time up the court.

And on Joe and T-Mac running the offense, count on no fast breaks there. At least Jc1 gave us a chance to run.

Still trying to understand where ournimprovements are this year outside of Teague? I acknowledge his skillset, but unless he is lobbing to Josh, we will look the same in so many areas. Finally, our rebounding is lacking from everyone not named Josh and Al…..it needs to be a group effort here.
Our guys play too cautious to be scrappy and fighting for extra possessions.

BTW, not counting on any production from Kirk at this time. He may get back in time to run for 33 games, but is Sund prepping for such a situation? Nope, I don’t see it.

And if it were me, save the 500M and let Pape Sy develop elsewhere. He is in no position to helpf this team. I don’t see the PG skillset.

KevinM

December 18th, 2011
8:51 am

Indy, we are missing a lot still:

Our bench is questionable at best, and if Marvin isn’t on it, we’re back to more of the same when the lights go on.

Rebounding as a team

Points in the paint as a team…….we’re 29th in the league….ournguyS want to be perimeter heroes!!

I thinks there are better coaches out there, but LD gets nothing but accolades from the faithful Gearon.

Can we beat .500 and above teams this year? We have the formula correct for the most part for under .500.

Just 3-4 roster improvements and we might have enough.

heardthisallbefore

December 18th, 2011
9:16 am

Quote from Michael Gearon in the previous blog. “You guys have done a hell of a job running that franchise because you are in a market that’s not a large revenue market, you’ve been competitive, you’ve kept your base players, you’ve been willing to pay Josh Smith 50-something million, Al Horford his $60 million, Joe Johnson his $100 million, Marvin his $40 million and so forth.”

At least two of the four contracts mentioned were horrible mistakes that will insure that the Hawks do not markedly improve in the next few years. Most fans do not think the ASG is cheap. We do realize they are incompetent.

The really bad news is it appears that Atlanta is stuck with this collection of knuckleheads as owners of the Hawks for the foreseeable future. There is no reason for real optimism until the team is sold. Get used to Gearon’s spin that a second round playoff exit every year equals success.

Amnesty the ASG!

Ra'mon

December 18th, 2011
9:27 am

Josh Smith losing weight just prolonged his career, not hurt him. Everyone’s body frame isn’t built to hold 240+ pounds while running and jumping at a high level. Every season since ‘bulking up’ to play PF, Josh has had knee problems, that take him longer and longer to recover from (remember Sekou’s article of Josh’s Wolverine like healing). Josh is a leaper, so the more weight going down on his knees, will take away a lot of his explosiveness! (*drmaryb or doc* please help me with this).

tony

December 18th, 2011
9:36 am

“The most important thing to me is I want to play, whether that’s here or somewhere else. I don’t know where that’s at,” said Mason, who was also initially offered by Iowa and later Virginia and Mississippi State. “I know I can play here, I’ve seen the improvements I’ve made and I probably go against the No. 2, 3 or 4 defense in the country every day and to see yourself succeed and make strides every single day, it gives you confidence that you can play at this level and you can play anywhere.”

If this young man didn’t believe that he’s better than Aaron Murray he wouldn’t be contemplating leaving uga. If Zach Mettenberger didn’t believe he was better than Aaron Murray he wouldn’t have gotten upset when Mr.Richt announced that Murray will be his starter. Everybody knows Mettenberger looked better than Murray in that G-DAY game.

I was Aaron Murray’s biggest supporter but the young man is too inconsistent and he doesn’t make smart decisions a against good teams. Why isn’t Mr.Richt aware of this?

tony

December 18th, 2011
9:41 am

My bad hawks fans . My last post was for the dawg blog.

Ray

December 18th, 2011
9:43 am

@ Tony

WHAT!!!! This isn’t college FB boards

Ray

December 18th, 2011
9:43 am

@ Tony

Oh okay lol that was still kind of funny though.

drmaryb.[*_*].

December 18th, 2011
9:47 am

Cheap Suits!

“They’re routinely employing the cheapest coach and GM. And that’s where everyone get the feeling that they’re cheap!” -Ra’mon-
___________

The ASKG are the equivalent of a guy wearing a 10K Armani suit with Pay Less Shoes. They just don’t get it. Everyone is looking at the shoes and they say,

“But I’m wearing an Armani Suit!”

It just doesn’t make sense to the everyday man.

Ray

December 18th, 2011
9:50 am

As for contributing to the blog though I don’t like what I’m hearing about Teague, but I do know it’s to be expected I’m not going to make a mistake and put him on too high a pedestal that if he messes up he has no where to go but down.

Also this reverting back to old habits I’ve heard that for the last time and if we just remove one person the old habits thing wouldn’t exist.

AG

December 18th, 2011
9:50 am

nothing about Marvin in any writeup. Looks like same ol Marvin

drmaryb.[*_*].

December 18th, 2011
9:59 am

Bees Knees!

Ra’mon you are correct re: excessive weight on a jumpers knees. The knee is the most complicated joint in the entire body. It has more ligaments, muscle tendons and the largest two muscle groups anchored on it. The quadriceps and hamstrings are the most powerful and perplexing injury for leapers and runners.

So without going into too much detail, Josh will be better off for losing that extra weight. This doesn’t mean he can’t get stronger though, see Dennis Rodman. What a lean, mean rebounding machine. Dennis had the best legs and his power was undeniable.

drmaryb.[*_*].

December 18th, 2011
10:08 am

The Poser!

“But I’m always surprise to see the negativity of your bloggers.Piss me off…
Go Hawks!” -CWebb’s Poser-
____________

If you want to pose as CWEBB? You may want to learn your script. Immediately after last season’s 2nd round exit at the Bulls handy work, The NBA TV crew host asked CWEBB what was wrong with the Hawks?

CWebb said one word, “Management!”
________________

Hey poser! Learn your lines.

vava74

December 18th, 2011
10:31 am

KevinM,

“At least Jc1 gave us a chance to run.”

Kevin, Jamal is one of the WORST rebounders in the league. His presence on the court immediately eliminates fast break opportunities since he did not have any interest in loose balls.

Add to this the fact that he was prone to jacking up ill advised shots in transition rather than going to the rack or passing the ball.

Although I am very very very doubtful on T-Mac’s ability to contribute at this moment of his career, he was one of the best rebounders in the clutch for the back court positions SF’s down (last 5 minutes of regulation and or overtime).

Check http://www.82games.com (punch clutch stats).

So, if he plays at an equivalent level again this year, his eventual presence on the court should improve our rebounding and consequently our chances of winning close games.

So Yeah...

December 18th, 2011
10:33 am

Yep, my point was proven. LOL