Vivlamore with today’s Hawks report.
As the Hawks officially kick off training camp Monday, the AJC takes a look at five things that will be determined with practices and exhibition games prior to the start of the regular season.
1. Who will replace the scoring of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams?
Johnson was traded to the Nets and Williams to the Jazz as the rebuilt Hawks lost two-fifths of their starting lineup. Johnson averaged 18.8 points per game, tied with Josh Smith for the lead lead. Williams averaged 10.2 points per game. The combined 29 points a game represented 30 percent of the offense.
“Both of those guys were very key and big pieces to our puzzle,” coach Larry Drew said. “This opens up opportunities for new guys, guys who have been here, guys who are coming in. It doesn’t happen overnight. We are going to have to lace it up and really go to work and try to, as a team, try to step up. Everybody has to step their game up now. You lose an all-star in Joe and Marvin played a huge role for us because he had the versatility of a starter and he was very productive coming off the bench. We are going to have to roll our sleeves up, bust our behinds and lay it on the line night in and night out.”
2. What will the point guard rotation be with Jeff Teague, Devin Harris and Lou Williams?
Drew said he is undecided just how he will rotate the three guards, all of whom he called “game changers.” Teague started all 66 games for the Hawks last season. Harris is a former all-star. Williams led the 76ers in scoring with 14.9 points a game, all coming off the bench.
“I know that I will be smaller in the backcourt than I have in the past,” Drew said. “I don’t have that versatility that I had by moving Joe to the 2-guard and using his size. What those guys bring, they bring an unbelievable amount of speed and quickness to the game. Speed and quickness, we’ll be in the open-court more, running more pick-and-rolls, just utilizing what their strengths are.”
3. Will Al Horford remain at center?
Horford has primarily played center in his tenure with the Hawks but many want to see the team acquire a big man and move Horford to power forward. Zaza Pachulia is also an option to start at center.
Drew said with Horford healthy after a torn pectoral muscle last season, he is inclined to keep him at center. However, the coach said he likes the versatility of having Pachulia at the center, Horford at power forward and Josh Smith at small forward.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve used that combination,” Drew said. “I want to allow myself that type of flexibility again.”
4. How much will the team count on its rebuilt bench?
The bench was considered a strength last season but all those players – except for Ivan Johnson and Pachulia – are gone. A new group of bench players have arrived. Drew said he has yet to decide, although he has an idea, who will replace Johnson and Marvin Williams in the starting lineup and who will come off the bench. It’s a good bet that Lou Williams come stay in a reserve role.
“That has been a strength of our and our players have bought into that,” Drew said. “I think you go into any game situation I think you have to look at the matchups and looks at the advantages and disadvantages. Not necessarily always shuffling it around so you adjust to [the opposition], sometimes you want the opponent to adjust to you. I like having the flexibility if I do decide to do that.”
5. Where will this year’s draft picks fit in?
Drew was also non-committal on the exact roles of John Jenkins and Mike Scott. He said he was impressed with their college careers, what they showed during summer league games and offseason workouts.
They will most certainly be used in reserve roles.
“We know what they bring to the table,” Drew said. “I’m excited to see how they do fare in this type of environment.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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