Atlanta Hawks: Up-tempo offense can’t forget the low post

Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story for Wednesday’s print edition of the AJC.

There is so much talk around Hawks training camp about the new up-tempo offense that promises a faster brand of basketball. Coach Larry Drew has gone as far as to set an ideal of a mere four seconds for his team to cross midcourt to start an offensive possession.

However, there is an element of the Hawks offense that cannot be forgotten with this fast-paced, perimeter-shooting group. There must continue to be a low-post presence. If not, much of the new look will be ineffective.

“I don’t want to stray away from that,” Drew said. “Our game, obviously, is going to be in the open floor and in transition. But still we have to establish ourselves in the low post and force teams to have to defend us down there, force teams to double team us down there.”

The Hawks are going to run with Jeff Teague, Devin Harris and Lou Williams running the offense. The speedy guards are reason No. 1 the Hawks revamped their offense. The addition of perimeter shooters such as Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson creates another wrinkle to the quick pace. The attention the guards draw with their ability to drive the lane opens the outside for the long-range attempts.

However, that cannot be the sole look of the offense, not with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia working down low.

“I don’t believe you can win a lot of games, go to the playoffs and win a championship just from shooting from outside,” Pachulia said. “There are a lot of nights when outside shooting won’t be there for you. You need the inside presence for sure. If both aspects are successful, it’s very hard for defenses to guard. It’s a huge advantage when you have low-post players who can score down low, defenses will help inside and then you have outside shooters.”

Therein lies the flexibility of the Hawks offense. If an opponent chooses to take away the outside shot, the inside should be open. If the opponent tries to clamp down on the inside, the outside should be open.

The Hawks were a middle-of-the road team last year in points scored in the paint. They were ranked 19th in the NBA with an average of 39.6 points per game. Denver led the league with 53.2 points per game. The Hawks were without the services of Horford for all but 11 games last season. They often used Jason Collins with Pachulia was out.

Horford said the Hawks yet to introduce the low-post offense during training camp.

“You need to have an inside presence,” Horford said. “You can’t just sit around and shoot jumpers all day. We have to have a paint presence. We have to establish that. In camp, we have really been focusing on the defensive stuff and getting out and running but at some point we are going to have to address it.”

In keeping with the Hawks’ philosophy, it all starts with defense.

“First and foremost to be an up-tempo team, you have to get stops,” Smith said. “You can be an up-tempo team, how Golden State was four or five years ago and run-and-gun and try to outscore teams, but in the Eastern Conference you have to play defense in order to win basketball games. In order for us to be an up-tempo team we have to get stops first. When you get stops it makes it easier to get fast-break points.”

Smith said when the game slows down he, Horford and Pachulia have the necessary moves to score down low. If they force teams to trap in the paint the perimeter shooters should get open looks at the basket.

- Chris Vivlamore

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* Starting lineup for exhibition opener

* Practice report: Starting lineup preview?

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

100 comments Add your comment

Pimp My Stats

October 9th, 2012
11:58 pm

Preachtree Fan

I’m sorry

I retract everything I said about Al

I’m just a jerk, I admit

Pimp My Stats

October 10th, 2012
12:01 am

Slimjr

Let’s get together upstairs and think about Al Horford. Its pass midnite

Preachtree Fan

October 10th, 2012
12:27 am

Al and I are lovers. Me Big Ray and Al did a 3 some. please dont trade Al.

Preachtree Fan

October 10th, 2012
12:28 am

You can pimp my stats any time…

Just the Facts Ma'am

October 10th, 2012
1:07 am

Rebounds/Blocks/ Pt’s – Last 5 years

2007–08 Jefferson 11.1/ 1.5/ 21.0 VS Horford 9.7/ 0.9/ 10.0

2008–09 Jefferson 11.8/ 1.7/ 23.1 VS Horford 9.3 /1.4 /11.5

2009–10 Jefferson 9.3 /1.3 /17.1 VS Horford 9.9 /1.0 /14.2

2010–11 Jefferson 9.7/1.9 /18.6 VS Horford 9.3 /1.3 /15.3

2011–12 Jefferson 9.6 /1.7 /19.2 VS Horford 7.0/ 1.1/ 12.8

PEDRO EL GITANO

October 10th, 2012
6:04 am

Al Horford,cállate la boca.Tú no tienes juego de pies ni habilidad para jugar al poste ni regatear sin que te desmorones al suelo con tu cuerpo de robocop.Si quieres anotar rebotea y corre,eso es lo que el equipo necesita de tí.¿quién crees que eres,MacHale?Sólo eres un pivot mediocre con más protagonismo del que merece.Keith Benson lo haría mejor que tú jugando tus mismos minutos.

vava

October 10th, 2012
6:49 am

Pedro,

No crees que estás exagerando? Benson és solo un proyecto que ni si quiera logro jugar media temporada en Italia.

Horford tiene muchas lacunas, pero es un jugador acima de la media.

terrell

October 10th, 2012
7:50 am

Welcome to Jumperville USA. LD and Woody love themselves some jumpshots. lol. Btw, who in the heck are we gonna post up? Al? That’ll be about 20 mintes of the clock right there. Josh? Hes gonna be too busy launching 3’s. Zaza? He’ll either fumble the pass, or get his shot blocked by the rim. lol

terrell

October 10th, 2012
7:52 am

“20 seconds of the clock”

AG

October 10th, 2012
8:16 am

Wow Terrell, I have been saying the same thing about ZaZa. He is worst than terrible! The trolls who want ZaZa to start is simply crazy. They are the same one’s who want an upgrade at center.

Mike is Back

October 10th, 2012
8:18 am

CV, I missed the blog…But I’m starting warm up to Tolliver…guys start to figure stuff out once they get some solid years under their belt…THAT’S why I thought it great to get Sweet Lou!

Tolliver is right…we could use another guy with his size that can play. I’m thinking Tolliver may be able to give us…at lease what we were getting out of Marvin…or close to it…so in that scenario…I’M ALL FOR THIS GUY.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sam

October 10th, 2012
8:21 am

Sounds similar to another NBA team – the Spurs.

Splitter and Duncan are comparable to Josh and Al. I guess Lou would be our Ginobli and Stevenson would be our Leonard. Our pieces aren’t nearly as good, but they are similar.

O'Brien

October 10th, 2012
8:24 am

FTPB,

Ra’mon,

I am on board with taking a chance on Blatche as well (if the price is right), because there is no denying his talent if he can get his head in the game consistently. And maybe a change of scenery will do him well.

O'Brien

October 10th, 2012
8:27 am

“In camp, we have really been focusing on the defensive stuff and getting out and running but at some point we are going to have to address it.”Al Horford.

If the low post game is that important, how come it has not been addressed in camp thus far?

That being said, I’m not really sure how to address it. Our 2 centers (Al and Zaza) don’t have much of a low post game, and Josh likes to shoot jumpers.

Hawks fans, I think we will spend most of the season hoping the jumpers are falling, because I think that will be our offense again.

AG

October 10th, 2012
8:28 am

O’Brien, Blanche already signed with Brooklyn. Marvin had a decent game on Monday. I don’t think the Nets have played yet.

AG

October 10th, 2012
8:36 am

The Nets do not play until Friday. Other former Hawks not doing to well. Hinrich scored 5 points yesterday. Willie Green started at SG but had one basket. Vlad Rad looked terrible also. If we thought our bench was solid last year, this year our bench is much better.

If you look at the preseason opener, it was our backups who helped us against the Heat. I am a little concerned that LD put Lou with Smith and Horford in practice.

vava74

October 10th, 2012
8:52 am

AG,

Hinrich had 7 assists in 20+ minutes and had the second best ± stat. I would not call that bad.

You seem to look only at points, which is not the right way of watching basketball!

Slimjr

October 10th, 2012
9:09 am

Is AllNBA Championship material?

Not in this time line..

As usual, it will be guard play that will take this team as far as their talent will take them..The bigs will be along for the ride…

Watch the #5 disappear in the playoffs like his buddy down the street Choke Jones..

Slimjr

October 10th, 2012
9:10 am

#5[Center] for those who have not had their hot cup of java yet…

MsDee

October 10th, 2012
9:12 am

I think if Drew addressed post plays to Horford more often, we would see him posting up with a more consistent post game. I think he has one, but how can he showcase it if he already knows players like Joe, Josh, Jamal and now Lou jack up jumpers at will. In case most of yall Horford haters didnt know, Drew isnt a post play type of coach. He is a shooters coach and I think Horford is getting fed up about it and I dont blame him. Josh could have a post game as well but why when u have a coach who dont emphasize it at all?? I have been trying to cope with Drew, but im starting to want him out b4 the season ends. I’m still hoping Danny has his eye on Jerry Sloan. Could really be a great team PLUS gain some notoriety around Atlanta.

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
9:17 am

Anyone saying the Hawks have no inside game, stop smoking crack. Go back and watch highlights of Game 4 against CHI two years ago when Josh dominated the paint against the deepest front line in the NBA. Last season at times LD force fed Josh in the post to great affect. Other times he went away from it. The decision to run plays that get the ball to Josh in the post is purely a coaching decision. If it doesn’t happen, it is a result of bad coaching.

And you have no idea what Al can do in the post when teams can’t sag into the lane because they have to stay up on shooters. Al has been the Hawks’ most efficient offensive player for years. Now you add another player with elite offensive efficiency in Lou Williams. Lou already proved to be capable and willing to feed the post in the first exhibition game. You people have no idea how good these Hawks can be.

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
9:20 am

“I think if Drew addressed post plays to Horford more often, we would see him posting up with a more consistent post game.”

MsDee always on point! You beat me to it… our presence or lack of a post game is not based on the ability or inability of our post players. It’s based purely on the coach’s decision to run plays that get the ball inside to our post players.

vava74

October 10th, 2012
9:20 am

A lot has been said in the blog which I would like to comment:

Hawks’ post game:

It’s not non existent. It’s weak.

Same applies to Horford. He has ONE semi-reliable move in the post: he establishes in the left side of the box, receives, drives left into the lane and drops a half hook.

Teague:

Teague will need to eat his wheaties and be consistent and as Big Ray said, we are now in a position that we do not need to care so much about Teague.

He seems to be a nice kid with some substantial talent but he needs to become a man pronto.

On his shot, I think people have been to harsh on him. Last year he shot well most of the year.

His shot abandoned him after that last second airball against the Celts which is an indication that he is mentally fragile.

Just check his monthly splits of last year:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/4624/splits;_ylt=ArQrFtJmJL2S7GKs4CWVE8WkvLYF

He was shooting the 3 ball at a very high clip, then he collapsed for a month and closed the year back at decent levels.

For the lazy, just look at his April numbers:

April G12 mpg28:36 FG5.2 FGA9.5 FG%54.4 3pt0.7 3ptA1.9 3Pt%34.8 FT2.8 FTA3.3 85.0 RPG2.8 APG5.4 TO1.8 STL1.3 BLK0.8 FL2.1 PPG13.8

The kid shot .544 from the floor in 12 games in April and that production (13.8 ppg / 5.4 apg ) came in just over 28mpg.

I don’t know what is there not to like from the point of view of the kid being deserving of further nurturing and development.

vava74

October 10th, 2012
9:25 am

For the less focused, that production PER 36 minutes per game means:

17.4 ppg
6.8 apg
3.5 rpg
1.6 stl
1.0 blk

These are quasi-stellar numbers and I would go on limb and say that these numbers are borderline all-star.

doc

October 10th, 2012
9:36 am

i guess we still dont know what we get with teague, eh?

will he relax because of the support around him and do better, or worse as his laid back attitude surfaces on court.

the flip is he feels pressure and succumbs to it throwing his hands up saying it is out of his control or is spirited and makes the small guard collection into a three headed monster.

time will tell. unfortunately those that scream and want to blame ld are wrong. by now teague is totally responsible for his career.

Astro Joe

October 10th, 2012
10:06 am

vava said, “He seems to be a nice kid with some substantial talent but he needs to become a man pronto.”

I am hearing an angelic choir harmonizing in the background… and recalling a discussion about pampers. :lol:

Meanwhile, like I said the other day, for this roster and head coach, Teague will be the least of our concerns for the coming season.

vava74

October 10th, 2012
10:24 am

AJ,

There is time for pampering and there is time to stop pampering.

I believe that Teague will be fine and maybe even surprise a few. I think having Harris and Lou behind him – certainly playing aggressive – will make him be aggressive too.

What I am worried is the differential between what may be expected from him and what he is talented to do.

He can be an effective PG in this league BUT he will NEVER be a pass first PG and to try to make him that is basically wasting his talent and probably ruining him.

Slimjr

October 10th, 2012
10:36 am

Yes Teague will be much less of a concern with the new [Star] guards stepping onto the court..

Lou and Devin will be an awesome combo.Just terrorizing folks..

Najeh Davenpoop

October 10th, 2012
10:42 am

“Hawks fans, I think we will spend most of the season hoping the jumpers are falling, because I think that will be our offense again.”

The good news is that Morrow, Jenkins, and Korver will likely knock down those jumpers at a higher clip than the Hawks’ wings have done in the past.

This is a transition roster, so it’s unrealistic to expect that they won’t struggle at some aspects of the game, the low post game being one of them. I think it’s realistic to expect them to have a similar season as the Golden State Warriors team from a few years ago that won the 8 seed in the West and upset the #1 Mavs before losing in the second round. Not saying the Hawks will go that far in the playoffs, but I think they are likely to play a similar up-tempo style with questionable defense and be roughly a similar caliber team.

Marvin, Horford and Jon Kontract

October 10th, 2012
10:44 am

Mike Woodson also stopped the natural flow of the offense to help Al horford, by trying to post him up, running switch plays to help him on both offense and defense. He set double and triple picks to help Al get involved. With all that Al increased his production a mere 2 ppg from 12ppg to 14ppg.

There is no more excuses for Al’s mediocrity.

HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO BE A PROJECT DEVELOPMENT TEAM?

We have seen enough of Al to know that we don’t get past the second round with Mediocre Al. No only is Al average (or below) offensively but he runs a professional escort service on defense.

Time to dump Al if we plan on going any higher… if we are seriously in pursuit of a championship. No star is going to come here knowing he’s got to carry the dead weight of Al horford

Slimjr

October 10th, 2012
10:44 am

Both guards can carve up a defense like Swiss cheese and either launch their outstanding jumpers or deliver to the bigs for layups.

That’s how you help your teammate like the Allstar with a very weak handle and zero post game [as Big Ray so decisively explained] last night, deliver the ball to him near the rim ie, Magic to Worthy..

Najeh Davenpoop

October 10th, 2012
10:47 am

That Golden State team had a small back court with Baron Davis and Monta Ellis and led the league in 3 pointers attempted thanks to a really deep set of wings, very little front court depth, and the fastest pace in the league. They finished 11th in offensive rating and 19th in defensive rating. The Hawks are constructed differently, with more front court depth and less wing depth, but I think it’s fair to expect a similar finish in offensive and defensive rating and in the standings with the personnel on the current roster.

Marvin, Horford and Jon Kontract

October 10th, 2012
10:48 am

“Lou and Devin will be an awesome combo.Just terrorizing folks..”

Is AllNBA Championship material?

Not in this time line..

As usual, it will be guard play that will take this team as far as their talent will take them..The bigs will be along for the ride…

Watch the #5 disappear in the playoffs like his buddy down the street Choke Jones..

Well at least 1 of your guys seems to understand the game.

Al’s play off stats? 11pts 7rbs… you know the drill.

Astro Joe

October 10th, 2012
10:56 am

It will be fascinating to watch the dynamics of an uptempo offense in Josh’s last contract year. The 22 YO Josh would likely thrive in such an offense, as long as he sprinted down the floor and filled the wing on fast breaks. But after enduring the pain fo banged up ankles and knees, I’m not as convinced that Josh will enjoy participating in a 48 minute relay race. Will Josh morph into Al Harrington?

MsDee

October 10th, 2012
11:13 am

vava74,

“Same applies to Horford. He has ONE semi-reliable move in the post: he establishes in the left side of the box, receives, drives left into the lane and drops a half hook.”

When u dont have a coach who emphasizes post plays for your post players, u DARN RIGHT HE WILL USE HIS ONE BREAD AND BUTTER move since he knows THAT’S IT the rest of the game. You not gonna try nothing new since u have 1 shot at it a night. Like I said a few blogs ago, cant remember the game but it was a couple of seasons ago when Horford had the ball thrown to him in the post about 3 or 4 consecutive possessions and he delivered all 4 times including an AND1. But for SOME STRANGE REASON, both Josh and Joe stopped going to him and of course, THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE. And its funny how all Horford haters say he doesn’t have a post game, but I have a question for yall, HOW DO U REALLY KNOW HE DOESNT HAVE ONE, WHEN DREW, JOE NOR JOSH GOES TO HIM ON A CONSISTENT BASIS??? The only way yall could be close to being right is if and when they go to him 4 consecutive times and he doesn’t deliver.

“He (Teague) can be an effective PG in this league BUT he will NEVER be a pass first PG and to try to make him that is basically wasting his talent and probably ruining him.”

NOT TRUE again VAVA74,

Teague passed the ball and would set Zaza up MANY of times with a nice bounce pass RIGHT THERE at the freakin basket, just to see him pump fake to death just to come up with no shot and a missed FT. Horford wasnt around last season to help increase his assist ratings. And now with all the shooters he can pass so this season, just not sure how u can say that Teague will NEVER be a pass 1st PG.

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
11:36 am

“He has ONE semi-reliable move in the post: he establishes in the left side of the box, receives, drives left into the lane and drops a half hook.”

Not true. In the Heat game he executed a drop step to the baseline from the right block and powered it in off glass with his right hand.

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
11:36 am

Ivan did the exact same move for 2 of his 4 points for the game.

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
11:45 am

“I think they are likely to play a similar up-tempo style with questionable defense and be roughly a similar caliber team.”

Don’t know why you think the defense will be questionable when we have one of the deepest front lines and point guard rotations in the league and one of the best defensive utility specialists in the league on the wing (Stevenson). Yes, our wing depth presents problems, but if LD wants to put a defensive lineup out there, we have the available talent to do it.

O'Brien

October 10th, 2012
11:51 am

Slimjr,

Is All NBA Championship material? Not in this time line...

Did anybody say Al is “championship material? Mario Chalmers was the starting PG on a team that won the NBA championship. Is Mario Chalmers even one of the 10 best PGs in the NBA? Nope, but that didn’t stop him from winning a championship as Miami’s starting PG. Is Joel Anthony Championship material?

It’s like you go out of your way to criticize Al, and I don’t know why. Most of us admit that Al is what he is. A solid player overall (especially when he plays like Boss Al), but he has his limitations, and is not good enough to be a #1 option on a title contending team.

You’re like a broken record playing the same thing over and over. Why? And answer me this. Is Josh Smith good enough to be a #1 option on a title contending team?

AG

October 10th, 2012
12:02 pm

Ms. Dee, finally someone who watched Hawks games! I do beg to differ on one point. Not only did ZaZa pump fake forever – then he would get his shot blocked.

I don’t think Jeff should be a pass first point guard. When he is playing his game, his assist will come with the flow of the game. I was at the game when he finished with 24 points, 15 assists. He can actually do both.

darrell starks

October 10th, 2012
12:11 pm

Al is not a low post score, more of a spot up shooter, Josh playing SF and getting the ball in the post is the best advantage for the Hawks, Zaza is your Hustler around the rim giving them more opportunity for second chance points.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

October 10th, 2012
12:12 pm

Danny Ferry has to find a defensive center in the post 2 backup Zaza.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jlewis

October 10th, 2012
12:28 pm

I know a lot of us that have played, watched or coached basketball, know that if you shoot the basketball that fast you cant have a post up game, lol. Also, there is an assumption that the shooters will be open from doubling the post, we dont have anyone thats going to draw a double team. The only double team player we had was Joe, and Josh when he got hot in the second half of last season.

Remember, the assumption is, the longer you have been in the league the further you get from the basket, Josh will have such a workload he will not be able to battle like that every night, therefore, more jumpers.

brigadierjerry

October 10th, 2012
12:28 pm

obrien,

not worth it. i used to try with slimjr but he doesnt like horford. it is what it is. i just scroll down. i think if horford avg 16 and 11 slimjr would have a problem.
all the points u said on horford i agree and have said many times but i stopped arguing about it.

funny thing is game is now more wing and guard oriented than post play which is basically outside of 2-3 low post centers nonexistent.

if u have a chance,read grantland’s piece on nba season. states hawks have chance to be up to 4 or 5 seed as a ceiling this year

Just Joe

October 10th, 2012
12:35 pm

IMO, we need Teague to defend first and score second. Setting up his teammates should be a distant third. I want Teague harrassing people on D, attacking the basket, finishing, drawing fouls, and passing out of trouble when necessary. See Tony Parker’s offensive stats for reference. I would go as far as to say that our first option on offense should be dribble penetration by Teague.

CoachG30

October 10th, 2012
12:44 pm

Umm to all you fans that think that trading Horford is the answer then just know you would be trading the team’s “true” leader.

And those PPG avg that you posted between Al Jefferson and Al Horford….guess what. Al Jefferson was the NUMBER 1 option where he played, whereas Horford had to watch Joe dribble around and jack up a fadeaway jump shot for 5 years or Josh Smith jack up a three.

That skews the numbers a bit.

No Doubt Horford increases production this year with more touches

vava74

October 10th, 2012
1:42 pm

Buddy,

I was talking about semi-reliable moves. I don’t think that ONE play in an exhibition game qualifies for a move to be considered semi-reliable.

I hope that he does have that move and that he can rely on it. I am not a Horford hater, I am a Horford critic, which is quite a different matter.

vava74

October 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

MsDee,

If you can’t distinguish between someone who is a critic from someone who is a hater…

I will give you this: Big Ray is about as balanced and respectable as anyone can be around these parts and he shares my view on Horford’s game. I think I am backed in my CRITICISM by bloggers who have balanced views on the Hawks and on the game of basketball.

As for the Teague not being a viable pass first PG, I stand for that and time will prove me right over and over and over.

Being a pass first PG is something you are born with. Teague is a scorer who can pass. I have always said that IMO Teague actually made good entry passes (when he does not get careless), but HIS game is to run and score and THEN pass.

When he is playing “happy”, running like a rabbit and feeding from his own energy and his own dunks, then his game rounds up.

If you tell him, PASS FIRST, he wilts.

[...] much so that they haven’t worked on post play yet in camp — and Al Horford wants to. Here is what he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “You need to have an inside presence,” Horford said. “You can’t just sit around and shoot [...]

[...] Al Horford emphasized the importance of post presence and defense in order for the Hawks to succeed, from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Horford said the Hawks yet to introduce the low-post offense during training camp. “You need to have an inside presence,” Horford said. “You can’t just sit around and shoot jumpers all day. We have to have a paint presence. We have to establish that. In camp, we have really been focusing on the defensive stuff and getting out and running but at some point we are going to have to address it.” In keeping with the Hawks’ philosophy, it all starts with defense. “First and foremost to be an up-tempo team, you have to get stops,” Smith said. “You can be an up-tempo team, how Golden State was four or five years ago and run-and-gun and try to outscore teams, but in the Eastern Conference you have to play defense in order to win basketball games. In order for us to be an up-tempo team we have to get stops first. When you get stops it makes it easier to get fast-break points.” [...]