Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on the Hawks new offense that will appear in Friday’s print edition of the AJC.
The pages of the Hawks’ playbook changed, one by one, with each addition to the team’s new-look roster this offseason. However, the biggest changes were made after one significant subtraction.
The trade of six-time all-star Joe Johnson to the Nets in July sent Hawks coach Larry Drew and his staff back to the drawing board. Pages and pages were eliminated. The Iso-Joe offense needed to be replaced.
“We’ve been in the past, predominately, a post-up team particularly at the 2-spot or the 3-spot with Joe,” Drew said recently. “We ran a lot of things through him. Now, we’ve got to change that.”
Point guard Jeff Teague said the roster makeover will help him and the team be more creative and fast-paced. No longer will his first option be to find Johnson when bringing the ball up court.
The Hawks added a number of players in the deal for Johnson that changed the persona of the team. Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson came from Brooklyn. Devin Harris and Kyle Korver were obtained in trades. Lou Williams was signed as a free agent. All are outside threats.
You can see Drew smile when he speaks of all the offensive options.
“We’ll be mixing up what we do a lot more than we have in the past because I think from an overall standpoint I can run things through a number of different guys,” Drew said. “I think that should work to our advantage. It takes away the predictability about us. If we play together, if we share the basketball, I think we can be an effective team.”
The offensive change will not happen overnight. With so much to be done, Drew is slowly working in his new system. With only five returners, and currently 14 new players in training camp, there is significant work to be done. Drew said he doesn’t expect to have his offense fully installed until, at least, the season opener Nov. 2 against the Rockets.
With the team still introducing concepts, the offensive is a much simpler version of what it has been and will become.
“Sometimes simple is better,” Josh Smith said. “Sometimes I’d rather have a pizza than a Kobe steak, mashed potatoes and gravy. Sometimes you want to keep it simple where guys can get the hang of it and understand it.”
Drew promises that the complexities will follow.
For it to succeed, Drew needs his team to buy into the new concepts and share the basketball. Drew and Smith said early in camp the team is quickly building the necessary chemistry. Smith called this his “favorite” training camp compared to his eight previous seasons.
“Guys on this team are not selfish and the offense that we are putting in is going to help everybody to get a chance to score,” Smith said. “It’s going to make us that much more of a threat when you don’t see where the offense is coming from.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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