Atlanta Hawks: Camp Report Day 10

The Hawks ranked 16th among NBA teams in defensive efficiency last season.

Some of their defensive category ranks, according to Hoopdata: 12th in opposing true-shooting percentage (53.7); fourth in opposing 3-point percentage (33.8); 22nd in opposing assist rate (20.98); 29th in opposing turnover rate (12.29), 11th in defensive rebounding rate (74.57); 24th in block rate (12.3); third in opposing free-throw rate (27.4), meaning they sent opponents to the line at the third-lowest rate in the league; and 29th in defensive plays rate (blocks, steals and charges).

More than a few of those numbers could be interpreted as a lack of aggressive defense by the Hawks. I’m looking at the opposing turnover rate, the block rate (and, by extension, the defensive plays rate) and the opposing assist rate.

Larry Drew said he’s changing the defensive approach.

“We are doing some things differently this year,” Drew said. “One, you have to be in shape. Two, you have to play with energy. We are doing some things where we are flying around a little bit more and guys are picking it up fast, which is important because to play defense you have to all be on a string.”

How would he describe the new strategy?

“Being a little more of the aggressor,” he said. “Go out and dictate, be the initiator. It’s like boxing. We don’t want to be a counter-puncher. Dictate the pace, dictate the rhythm.”

Does that mean more ball pressure, more stalking the passing lanes?

“That’s all part of it, too,” he said. “But we are doing some things defensively to energize us more. Not just sticking with your basic principles on defense. We are trying to do some things that will energize us.”

Does he hope the Hawks collect more steals, force a faster pace?

“It’s kind of a combination,” Drew said. “It’s certainly to change the pace and the rhythm of the game. Steals? Yeah, some, but I would rather be a defensive team that can disrupt and then we come up with the rebound. Steals, kind of the tendency is more to gamble. Defensively, I want to be solid and allow our team to dictate the rhythm and the pace of the game.”

It sounds to me like Drew essentially wants the Hawks to compete harder on D. That’s more of a philosophy or style than a strategy, but I’m curious to see how it looks.

This is how Jeff Teague described the new approach:

“I think we are trying to speed people up. We are rushing people off the 3-point line. We are trying to make a lot of effort. Last year somebody got an open three, we just let them have the open three. This year we are closing out and trying to make everybody drive to the basket.”

Does it mean he will pressure the ball more?

“Yeah, more picking up full court,” he said. “It’s going to be tiring. That’s what you play for. You’ve got to be in shape.”

Al Horford described the new defensive approach like this:

“[Drew] just wants to be more aggressive defensively. I think in the past we’ve been passive and just let the offense come to us instead of forcing the tempo. It’s going to be a challenge with the shortened season but I think we can do it. It’s about bringing the right energy.”

Drew said his players have embraced the changes.

“They are very, very receptive,” he said. “I understand that in being that kind of defensive team, you have got to have the right personnel to do it. You have got to have guys that are energy guys. But again you’ve got to pick and choose times and spots. That will be something we try to really harp on with these guys when we do change defensive strategy.”

Camp report

  • Drew said he’s likely to open vs. Charlotte with Teague, Horford, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams and Josh Smith. Before the team left for Charlotte today, Drew wasn’t sure which combinations he would use but said not everyone will play. A big focus will be evaluating Pape Sy, Brad Wanamaker and Donald Sloan.
  • Horford said Jason Collins “is in the best shape in three years.” Does he think that means the Hawks could expand the use of the “big” lineup? “I think so,” Horford said. “And I think Zaza [Pachulia] is someone who has kind of slipped through the cracks. He’s been active, playing in Turkey. I think he’s going to help is with that big lineup.”
  • Collins (knee) and Magnum Rolle (foot) returned to practice Sunday. Drew wasn’t sure if he would hold them out.
  • Horford on the value of playing a game: “I think the jelling, it’s been happening a little bit. But I think with the veterans we have, when the games start we will be able to do more of that. I think we will be fine.”
  • Teague also said he’s ready to “see how we look” and noted that he’s always gone all out for exhibition games:” “I always had to show people and come off the bench and impress them in the preseason. So it’s the same for me.”
  • With just two exhibition games to get ready, maybe his veteran teammates will follow his lead. “We have less time to prepare so we have to go out and treat it like a regular game,” Horford said. I’m skeptical because of my memories of the Hawks tanking once they clinched their seed late last season. Then again, they did “flip the switch” in the playoffs so maybe we’ll see the real thing tomorrow.
  • Teague on running the team: “For me, it’s always going to be about getting my scorers off early. If I get them off early and get them rolling, they want to play defense. That makes my job a lot easier.”
  • Horford said any Hawks who had to work into shape are there now: “LD took care of that.”

95 comments Add your comment

Najeh Davenpoop

December 18th, 2011
10:15 pm

“This year we are closing out and trying to make everybody drive to the basket.”

Hard to do that consistently when you only have one player on the team who challenges shots at the rim. If Smoove is on the bench, I can see this strategy backfiring.

BEN

December 18th, 2011
10:15 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

December 18th, 2011
10:16 pm

““Yeah, more picking up full court,” he said. “It’s going to be tiring. That’s what you play for. You’ve got to be in shape.””

Hard to do that consistently when you are playing five games in six nights because of the compressed schedule, even if everyone is in shape, and especially when depth is a problem.

TT

December 18th, 2011
10:19 pm

Will t-mac play tomorrow?

Macaroni Tony

December 18th, 2011
10:21 pm

I ready to see some Hawks basketball

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
10:24 pm

Players always say “we will be fine” or “I like what we got.”

Is ANYONE ON THIS TEAM ever going to come out and say “we are sick of losing in the 2nd round. It is time to COMPETE FOR A RING???”

Saying “it is time to take the next step” doesnt mean anything. To Sund, that probably means taking the 2nd round opponent to seven games rather than six.

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
10:24 pm

KevinM

December 18th, 2011
10:26 pm

Hawks on NBA-TV tomorrow night at 7 for all those not aware.

Gives us a chance to see if they will go full speed for an exhibition.

hawks_4_life

December 18th, 2011
10:28 pm

MC,

You need two things, a raise and a day off.

Truth B Told

December 18th, 2011
10:30 pm

Well good break down of numbers that matter. Unfortunately we’ve known that for some time. Ironically its defense that gives you the best chance to win the game. Out side of Josh, no one else really has an attitude to take pride in defense, and a certain player who starts in the middle is actually allergic to defense.

You know what. Im not going to tip toe around this.

Al Horford. own the Center position, stop with all the requests and hints about playing another position. Own the position. Be a beast on defense or get the hell on.

bigdave

December 18th, 2011
10:37 pm

hard to pressure the ball and make entry passes tough with Bibby and Crawford defensing the point of attack..

KevinM

December 18th, 2011
10:39 pm

Hey LD, don’t wear out Jeff in the first week of the season.

Full court pressure? This I gotta see…

A concerned fan..

December 18th, 2011
10:43 pm

I feel sorry for the people who cannot watch because they did not subscribe to more channels.

Big Ray

December 18th, 2011
10:53 pm

I think I understand what Drew wants to do here, but I also get the feeling we are trying to compensate for lack of rim defense, as Najeh already said.

Still, look at the Bulls. They managed to play that kind of defense and nobody on that team was a “real” shotblocker. What they did was challenge positions, challenge passing lanes, and challenge all shots, whether on the perimeter or near the basket.

As we all know, challenging shots and blocking shots are two different things. The first will help you win games, the second is something that is good to have, but often is a cover or cleanup for lack of ability to accomplish the first.

And that’s what we’ve been doing with Josh Smith. We can’t continue to let him do the bulk of our defense for us.

jlewis

December 18th, 2011
10:56 pm

Great article MC on why players dont come to ATL. I hope it will serve as a reference point for everyone that screams “why dont we dump JJ or Josh for x player”. Also, I agree with Gearon on the fact that no one appreciates JJ’s professionalism, no complaints and how hard he works. The players do all they can, for us old heads, they didnt come even when the human highlight was holding court. Great job MC.

Macaroni Tony

December 18th, 2011
10:59 pm

@jlewis I agree with you 100%, that was a good article. Although I would like to see some more veterans flocking to our Hawks, for some reason they want come. JJ was the only person that came to the Hawks, and he is still here.

joshau

December 18th, 2011
11:00 pm

My guess is Tmac and few other vets will be rested so the younger guys get an honest evaluation of where their game is at right now..

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
11:05 pm

MC,

You need two things, a raise and a day off.

******
this is NBA season. There are no days off. FIRE

KEEP IT up MC

FIRE SUND.

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
11:05 pm

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
11:08 pm

In regard to T-Mac, I might even sit him out the whole exhibition. He should be with the trainers all day making sure he is in prime shape. He worked hard over the summer and has been a top player in the league. No need to burn him out vs that Charlotte squad.

BTW that team stinks. MJ is an awful owner. He is better than ASG because he is MJ and they are DKBASG

Grandmaster JeJe

December 18th, 2011
11:10 pm

If we are not looking to add a veteran, based on the Hawks’ Guards Eyeing Exhibitom article, it looks like Stack WON’T be on our team this year.

FIRE SUND

Volman

December 18th, 2011
11:13 pm

Why are my messages being deleted? Grandmaster Jeje, you need to shut your trap man. All you have done on here is complain.

And hello to all of the REGULARS from the Salim Staudamire days. I hope you all are doing well! (Big Ray, Mykhalc, Ken Strickland, etc)

Go Hawks! I will see you guys when we are in San Antonio!

Slimjr

December 18th, 2011
11:25 pm

Somebodys got to protect the RIM/Paint????

Who will it be Mr ALL NBA AL?

Rev in Tampa

December 18th, 2011
11:28 pm

Drew’s description of the Hawks new commitment to defense did not exactly fill me with confidence that they will significantly improve their energy and efficiency.

Actually I think the Hawks will improve on defensive efficiency because of Teague and the absence of Jamal, but not because of some new masterplan on defense. But we will see…

Slimjr

December 18th, 2011
11:30 pm

Wow did Miami look good tonight!!!

Dismantled the Magic like I devour a slice of Cheese cake! Yum!!! lol

Slimjr

December 18th, 2011
11:36 pm

Memo to coach Drew. Ah your squad did not have to try and make everyone drive to the rim last season cause the opposing players did so at will with little resistance..@#$%^&

That one’s already been tried…..SHEESH!!!!!!!!!!

Next plan please? Wow……….

Ra'mon

December 18th, 2011
11:37 pm

If you think about it, this will be the FIRST season in how long where Joe gets to guard the 2- guard and not the point guard! This will leave him with more energy to perform on the offensive end, and it will give him an edge in guarding his guy, because they’re not quicker than the point guard he normally trails.

tjhook

December 18th, 2011
11:49 pm

More defensive energy . . . initiators?! On a Larry Drew-led team?! Unless I see a trade of Marvin Williams, I don’t see it happening. Once again, let’s trade Marvin for an energy guy (Josh Childress or Richard Jefferson). I bought the jersey (a Joe Johnson) so give me the business (entertaining basketball).

Slimjr

December 18th, 2011
11:57 pm

Coach speak= “I got my fingers crossed”….

doc

December 19th, 2011
12:06 am

you dont have to do the shot blocking NOR STEALS TO DISRUPT BY PLAYING GOOD DEFENSE, WHICH REALLY MEANS TAKING SPACE. opps on the caps guys …. taking space is what the good defensive teams do; like boston, miami and the bulls in the east. if they can do that that it is good enough, increased pressure and aggressiveness is nothing more than taking what is yours and not being complacent to allow the other guy to make the first move, which is the counter puncher idea LD came up with. it also means you dont have to knock out the other guy with each possesion.

volman bro, what are you doing out west and what do they say about the spurs?

Carrlos Lyles

December 19th, 2011
12:15 am

I like drew he understands that the hawks are so versatile that speeding teams up can work.. lets hope that everybody buys into the system..

Reality Check

December 19th, 2011
12:19 am

“Players always say “we will be fine” or “I like what we got.”

Is ANYONE ON THIS TEAM ever going to come out and say “we are sick of losing in the 2nd round. It is time to COMPETE FOR A RING???”…”

Grandmaster Jeje,

I was going to same the same thing, but then I realized that ASG never says it either. No mandates = no accountability.

Slimjr

December 19th, 2011
12:24 am

You have to be hard nose to play that way. Mr softie wont work in this new scheme Mr Drew has devised. Also its takes incredible energy and a deep bench to pull it off. Some players will get into foul trouble trying to play overly aggressive in this new defensive matrix. But if you had that shot blocker/ intimidator back there, that would take tremendous pressure off of your perimeter defenders? I’m just saying…

shady 2.0

December 19th, 2011
12:42 am

tell yall the truth i m sick and tired of you people keep hating on AJC and owners and GM and coach and players.. i mean damn how abt just support them instead criticizing in every blog.. i remember when we used to 20 to 30 games every season..

moboman

December 19th, 2011
12:54 am

someones gonna have to step up and score Jamals points.

superiorblogman

December 19th, 2011
12:57 am

Slimjr,PointGuardSlim,JonLuer,etc. Leave Al alone.

Teague on running the team: “For me, it’s always going to be about getting my scorers off early. If I get them off early and get them rolling, they want to play defense. That makes my job a lot easier.”

Well, I hope you stick to trying to get others involved instead of just running to the rim and trying to score yourself. I like Teague and the Hawks as a whole. That bench is way too weak though. Zaza kills you on defense by not moving his feet, but Collins or Zaza needs to start and Marvin needs to go to the bench to make it stronger.

If you look at the scrimmage you saw a little trapping action about to happen when just came up one time to help Jeff pressure the ball. That is one advantage of playing Josh at PF even though I think he needs to be at SF. He is quick enough to help out Jeff in the backcourt and still get back to the PF. Actually, that is a advantage of playing Al at C if they use it. Good strategy Drew, you can make them take a couple more seconds of the clock in the backcourt than they like and that speeds them up a little. Hopefully, you can even do it some when they first pass halfcourt and make the PG give it to the PF or something and get them out of wack. I like the sound of that.

Looking forward 2 2morrow.

Grandad

December 19th, 2011
1:01 am

Najeh

Forcing teams to drive does not necessarily mean
allowing the opponent all the way to the rim.
Coach must have a plan;
e g when opponent drives – team needs to know –
are they going to force baseline or middle ?
Also are they going to help, jump, trap, etc.
All these factors play into his strategy / philosophy.

I like what MC said:
“It sounds more like a philosophy than a strategy”
-very perceptive-
Except; were it his philosophy, then why not a yr ago.
So, to me, it comes across as [just somethin' new] to “try”
in the absence of a legit Big.

I really do not see a defensive philosophy from LD other than
trying match-ups, personel wise.

Bottom line, this new pressure defense = smoke screen.

Sorry.

_____________________________________________

Ken Strickland

December 19th, 2011
1:26 am

LDrew it now implimenting DEF techniques that he knew he couldn’t utilize with Bibby and Jamal as his primary PGs, because both were total DEF liabilities. When your perimeter DEF is all but nonexistent, you had better have a solid interior DEF to compensate.

Rather than have our frontline collapse when someone blew by Bibby or Jamal, LDrew employed Woodson’s switching DEF approach. That approach often left our frontline players on the perimeter where they couldn’t collapse to protect much of anything.

When you have 2 PGs who employ a matador approach to playing DEF, shotblocking is almost a must. But teams with solid perimeter DEFs don’t need it. Everyone is all up in the air over C Tyson Chandler and his ability to protect the rim. Well, he averaged a total of 1.08BPG, and his backup, BHeywood averaged 1.03BPG.

Compare that to JSmith’s 1.56BPG, and AHorford’s 1.04BPG, and you see that their bigs didn’t do as well as ours at blocking shots and protecting the rim. However, unlike us, they had a solid perimeter DEF, so their Bigs usually had to protect the rim against the player(s) they were guarding. Now our Bigs, on the other hand, had the added burden of protecting the rim against whoever our PGs weren’t guarding.

Dallas finished in a 3 way tie for 23rd in blocked shots, yet they still managed to have a solid DEF and win an NBA title. The Hawks interior DEF will definitely improve with the absence of the 2 total DEF liabilities LDrew insisted on relying on at PG.

Grandad

December 19th, 2011
1:33 am

Ken Strickland

Good point my friend.

Truth B Told

December 19th, 2011
1:48 am

Its must be a brain fart or a burp but the reality is Josh had more block last year while playing out of the paint that Al had playing in the paint.

?

What I mean is when Josh was a full time PF he was above 2 blks per game and that doesnt count the altered Shots.

Then Al said let me play the PF and move Josh outside to the wing or the perimeter. Well even when Josh split time at the 4 he still posted better numbers than Al. We ever Al plays the 4 and Josh goes out side we are not at our best. Keep Smoove at the 4 and make Al man up and D at the 5

Unfortunately the above lunacy doesnt take into account that Woody lite doesnt have a clue about maximizing defensive opportunities nor Al’s unwillingness to play aggressive at the 5.

Al is one of the most defensive non-aggressive centers in the game.

and his attitude sucks.

Truth B Told

December 19th, 2011
1:49 am

whenever Al plays the 4

Grandad

December 19th, 2011
2:06 am

I miss you Hatter.
I really do.
I hope all is well.

superiorblogman

December 19th, 2011
3:29 am

Damn, XMAS i hate this bs holiday, but Merry XMas to all of you.

tjhook

December 19th, 2011
3:37 am

http://valleyofthesuns.com/2011/12/14/josh-childress-dialed-in-bounce-back-year/
Just wanted folks to see what is going on with Childress and the Suns. Translation: he is a misfit with that team, but would be a good fit for ours. Trade Marvin!

Grandmaster JeJe

December 19th, 2011
3:48 am

No thanks re: Chillz

No jumpshot, he is weak, and he is not a special player. I’d take Duck over Chillz. Great guy though

Grandmaster JeJe

December 19th, 2011
4:00 am

Bryant: “He’s very good. He’s a workaholic. He has an attention to detail. When you come to practice, he has a practice planned. He is prepared. Boom, boom, boom. He’s right at it. I’m learning new things every day. He doesn’t let anything slide. You’re learning right then and there. When you’re doing something wrong, he’s not going to sugarcoat it. He’s going to tell you how it is and I can respect that.”
******

Kobe talking about Coach Brown. I guess Brown let ish slide when he coached LeQuit

beejayrufino

December 19th, 2011
4:59 am

I’m excited to see the Hawks play tomorrow! Let’s go Hawks I think this season we will be great, especially the addition of veterans T-Mac and Vladi

terrell

December 19th, 2011
7:19 am

Letting people drive to the basket to get to Big Al? Uh oh.

terrell

December 19th, 2011
7:21 am

LD needs to stick to offense. Why not just let the opposing team take 3’s all day? Better than giving them a layup. lol

KevinM

December 19th, 2011
7:34 am

Duck over Chills? Now that’s 2 players that will not help this team much. We need more firepower than that.

And speaking of whether our team is good defensively, let’s look at stats against teams over .500. Does it still resonate that our backline has good enough numbers to win? We were part of so many blowouts last year, I lost count.

And on the LD being better to implement his defense now because Bibby is no longer here…….that statement has no basis. LD is the coach; he has the power to play who he wants. LD gets all the blame in my book for Bibby getting any minutes that exceeded Teague’s. LD told you himself Teague had to asset himself, but apparently LD didn’t see enough talent there to sit Bibby. So that can be put to rest.

Bibby is 1/2 the player that Teague is, yet the entire organization didn’t acknowledge it.
Our focus has not been about defense; now all of a sudden it will be our trademark? Oh yeah, I gotta see this.