Atlanta Hawks practice report: Time for regular rotation to take shape (updated)

Updates with Carldell Johnson being waived.

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

Coach Larry Drew and the players I spoke to are not overly concerned with a 1-3 start to the preseason, including losses in the past three games. Exhibition games are about getting a look at different combinations of players in different situations.

“No, there are no issues there,” Drew said when I asked if he was concerned about the three losses. “Going into the preseason my main objective was to put a lot of different combinations on the floor to see what I have. When you have that many new faces in a training camp, there is a lot of learning, there is a lot of teaching, that has to be done.

“Therefore, the games are going to have to be used as learning experiences for us. Basically, going into these preseason games, I knew that’s what I had to use them for. As I said, as we move further down the road we’ll start putting together a more realistic combination of players out on the floor and I’ll get more of a feel of the combinations of players that I will be using.”

Drew said that he will start moving toward a regular starting lineup and bench rotation for the final three exhibition games. Although there is still evaluation to be done in terms of the final roster, he will begin with Thursday’s home against the Hornets.

According the players I spoke with, they also are looking forward to getting game action with a regular rotation.

- Jeff Teague: “Me and Josh (Smith) talked about that yesterday. We want to get a feel for who is going to be out there with you. With this team we are so deep that any given night anybody can be out there with you.”

- Al Horford: “I think we are at the point now where we really need to start mixing in the guys who are going to play together. We need to start playing in games together not just in practice. I think we are going to start seeing that, hopefully, in the next few games.

“I think a lot of the guys are still trying to figure out what their roles are and where they fit in. We just need to keep playing hard. Everyone is going to get their opportunity. … It’s going to come down to who can pick up our defensive coverages the most. That’s what we really need. We know we can score the ball. We just need to come together as a team defensively.”

In other notes:

* Smith and Horford were held out of Tuesday’s loss to the Pacers with minor issues. Smith has a sore knee and Horford has tightness in his shoulder (partially related to last season’s torn pectoral muscle).

“Both guys could have played,” Drew said. “Both guys wanted to play. I choose not to play them. I felt there was no real need to play either guy.”

* Drew did not reveal his starting lineup for Thursday’s game against the Hornets. However, based solely on my observations from practice, I think the likely group could be Teague, Devin Harris, DeShawn Stevenson, Smith and Horford.

* Drew said he loved the combination of Teague and Harris, who made his exhibition debut after dealing with a knee issue during training camp.

“I love the speed,” Drew said. “I love the fact that both guys can really break the defense down. They can get in the paint and cause havoc. Last night I put them both back in again in the fourth quarter, about the half-way mark, and they created some great opportunities for us. We just weren’t able to knock down some shots toward the end.”

* The Hawks waived guard Carldell Johnson Wednesday, trimming their training camp roster to 16 players. The team has until Oct. 29 to trim to the NBA-mandated limit of 15. However Drew has indicated he would like to get his roster set sooner rather than later. Johnson, the 5-foot-10 guard out of Alabama-Birmingham, appeared in one exhibition game with one assist and one steal in 13 minutes.

- Chris Vivlamore

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* Hawks serve it up at The Varisty

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

76 comments Add your comment

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:05 pm

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:07 pm

F.T.P.B.

jlewis the Wizards were only close in one game against the Hawks last year ,which happened to be a game in which John Wall didn’t do much at all. The other two wins against the Wiz last year were in double digits.

I would start James at the 3. I like his rebounding and defense. He doesn’t do much offensively but the Hawks need a guy who can defend and get on the glass.

MsDee

October 17th, 2012
3:10 pm

FTPB

jlewis,

Never said that Drew will be back with the Hawks, said that he will be also coaching for another contract as well, wither that be for us or else where. Trust me, other teams will evaluate Drew and how he has handled this team that Ferry has constructed for him b4 considering taking a chance on hiring him.

MsDee

October 17th, 2012
3:11 pm

FYI,

Just got an email from Hawks rep saying that Hawks will have their 1st Open Practice on Sunday, Oct 21st @ 3:30p-5pm at Phillips Arena. Free to attend!!

THIS SUNDAY: Don’t miss the Hawks free open practice at Philips Arena! The Hawks Cheerleaders and Harry the Hawk will be on hand as the team scrimmages for the fans in preparation for the start of the 2012-13 season!

O'Brien

October 17th, 2012
3:14 pm

FTPB,

John Wall’s nimbers against the Hawks (and Teague) last season (I wont count the previous years when Bibby was here);

Game 1: 20 pts, 6 assists…but his team lost by 18.
Game 2: 14 pts, 9 assists, 7 rebs, but his team lost by 13.
Game 3: 8 pts, 3 assists (he went 1-10 from the field), and his team lost by 3.

2 very good games, 1 terrible game. Ironically, when he had his worst game against the Hawks is when his team almost won.

kwooden1

October 17th, 2012
3:16 pm

2nd cp on James

O'Brien

October 17th, 2012
3:17 pm

Ken S,

I don’t think we should make a decision on Stevenson just based on his numbers from last year. One reason being, if LD does start him, it will not be because of his offense. It will be because he is a better defender than Morrow and Jenkins. I don’t know if he still is, but LD should see enough in practice and preseason to decide.

And he might be the first guy to be subbed out anyways.

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:18 pm

- Al Horford: “I think we are at the point now where we really need to start mixing in the guys who are going to play together. We need to start playing in games together not just in practice. I think we are going to start seeing that, hopefully, in the next few games.”

Sounds like a very good plan Al..

John

October 17th, 2012
3:22 pm

Wow, I wish we had taken Perry Jones III with our first round pick. He is a top 5 talent and is playing really well at a position of NEED this preaseason. I know it is preseason and I support Jenkins now that he is a Hawk, but I think we had an opportunity to get a great player and missed.

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:24 pm

John 20 plus teams are kicking themselves. He is an awesome basketball player if his knees hold up

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:28 pm

@John. I was just saying that in the last blog. Jenkins might be a fine player but Jones was a better fit and a better talent. He would be our starting sf this year hands down.

@Slim. I wouldn’t be shocked if his knees aren’t even as bad as the reports made them out to be. We hear reports about injury concerns for players every year right before the draft and most times those injuries are never a factor.

O'Brien

October 17th, 2012
3:30 pm

cp,

I’m with AJ. If James starts at SF, then Hawks may start Morrow at SG. Reason being, LD may not want to start James and Stevenson, because both are lacking offensively.

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
3:31 pm

If LD insists on starting Teague/Harris, then yes, I would start James over Stevenson. A Teague/Harris backcourt suggests an offense based on dribble penetration (”they can get in the paint and cause havoc”), which requires a certain supporting cast to be successful:

1) bigs that can defend, rebound missed shots, and make the outlet pass
2) bigs capable of crashing the offensive glass
3) bigs capable of finishing in traffic around the rim

Expect teams to play off Teague/Harris and force them to shoot jumpers, which Harris will enjoy.

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:33 pm

@O’Brien. I understand that position I just haven’t seen anything from Morrow that suggest he should be a starter. LD is in a tough position honestly with the starting lineup.

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:34 pm

“1) bigs that can defend, rebound missed shots, and make the outlet pass
2) bigs capable of crashing the offensive glass
3) bigs capable of finishing in traffic around the rim”

@Just Joe, our Bigs can do that…

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
3:34 pm

Regarding PJ3…on draft day, we had Marvin Williams & Joe Johnson under long-term contract, and Ferry had been on the job less than a week. We were looking for someone to replace Pargo/Green/Hinrich on draft day.

John

October 17th, 2012
3:35 pm

I was more upset when the Hawks passed on Jones in the late first than when they took Marvin second. Jones filled a need and I think will be talked about in years to come as one of the biggest steals to OKC. Glad others agree with me here. His biggest problem is he does not assert his talent enough. So frustrated. What was Ferry really thinking if he knew we had Morrow and he had the idea to go get Korver? I am not trying to bash anyone but I just feel like this could have been a huge mistep.

John

October 17th, 2012
3:37 pm

I could be wrong but I thought Ferry’s trades were already in the works when the draft came about. Even so, Jones still would have been the better fit. I don’t see your argument. At the end of the first, you take the best available. I don’t see anyway around it.

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
3:39 pm

John…Ferry gave up a trade exception and some cash for Korver. If he’s able to turn him in to a future draft pick (and/or a young player) by the trade deadline, then he’s brilliant.

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:41 pm

Just Joe the problem with that is by the end of the season Marvin wasn’t starting anyway. Im sure the Hawks didnt know they would find someone to take Marvin off their hands but if you draft Jones then at the worst you have someone who can push Marvin for pt or good depth at the sf/pf position.

John

October 17th, 2012
3:41 pm

I know I am repeating myself, but if you have the opportunity to get a top 3-5 talent, with no off the court issues, you take him in the 20s. I am always skeptical of injury issues that come about around draft time that have never affected their college play. Presti probably put it out there so he would fall.

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
3:43 pm

John…I think Ferry arrived in Atlanta a few days before the draft. There’s a quote somewhere that talks specifically about when the Joe trade came about. Do you draft PJ3 when you have Joe, Marvin, Josh, Al, and the rights to Ivan at your forward spots? Or do you draft a guard when you only have Joe & Teague under contract? I’ll admit PJ3 is a great talent, but I also understand the pick we made. It’s also too early to tell how Jones’s knee will hold up.

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:43 pm

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:44 pm

@John you should have been here on draft night. Plenty of guys on here were upset when they found out the Hawks took Jenkins. Many on here thought it was a reach considering the number of more talented guys still left on the board.

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:44 pm

Perry would have been a top 3 pick for sure! Wow!

John

October 17th, 2012
3:45 pm

Just Joe, I don’t care if Lebron was on the Hawks. If Perry Jones III, who all throughout his college career was thought to be a top 5 talent, I am taking him over a one dimensional player who is a fringe first rounder. Jones is big enought to play the 3 and 4. At the time, it was unclear if Josh would be moved or signed after this season and Drew kept cutting Marvin’s minutes.

Slimjr

October 17th, 2012
3:46 pm

Just imagine if Josh had that Jumper Perry is gifted with?????

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
3:47 pm

cp…I just don’t think we had a clue that we would be able to trade Joe & Marvin for 3 guards, and clear up enough money to go get Lou Williams, and obtain a trade exception to go get Korver. I think the draft was made thinking we’re in cap hell, and we’ll be lucky to get some decent veteran-minimum guards on this roster. LD was starting Joe at the 3 by season end, with Marvin as his backup. If you’ll notice, we bypassed some decent 3’s in the second round too.

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:50 pm

The only issue Perry had coming out was he wasn’t always aggressive. It would be frustrating at times watching him because one night dude puts up 20 and 12 then the next night he might not score 10. Even with that issue I thought he would have been a steal in the 20’s. I would rather take a guy with upside that late in the draft than a guy who is very one dimensional and probably wont get that much better. There were about 5 or 6 guys left on the board who I would have taken before Jenkins. I hope he turns out to be a good player for the Hawks but I thought they dropped the ball that night.

John

October 17th, 2012
3:50 pm

I get that the roster was in flux and Ferry had not made those trades yet, but talent is talent. You take it when it is there instead of reaching for a one-dimensional, albeit great shooter. I hope Jenkins works out.

John

October 17th, 2012
3:52 pm

If Jones was trouble off the court, I maybe see passing on him. However, by all accounts he is a good guy that, as cp stated, gets too passive.

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
3:52 pm

I’ll judge Perry in 3 years. Tons of teams passed on him for a reason, including Houston & Dallas, who you think would have known him the best.

The Truth

October 17th, 2012
3:53 pm

” Drew said he loved the combination of Teague and Harris, who made his exhibition debut after dealing with a knee issue during training camp.”

While I understand the drama with the PGs rotation has to play itself out, I hope LD is getting equally emotional about his frontcourt rebounding and points scored against them in the paint. This should be an area of concern since this team have shown to be vulnerable (in these area) during these preseason games.

A pattern even last year is 3rd quarter breakdowns. The Hawks scores “hard” while the opponent scores “easy”. The recipe for most losses. Is depth sufficent?

We Shall See

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:54 pm

Great point Joe but sometimes you have to take the best talent available especially if you’re picking that late in the draft. You might end up with a steal. I thought they should have taken Jones and gotten a guard in the second. I thought the kid from Kentucky was just as good as Jenkins but had a better handle and was a better defender. He went like one pick before Scott.

glw

October 17th, 2012
3:54 pm

Im with Slim on that one, if u got a chance to get a guy with star potential like Jones in the 20’s you have to take him. If Ferry had been here a week longer, he would have done it. I think he let LD and the other brass run the draft this time and go with “their” guy.

John

October 17th, 2012
3:54 pm

Just Joe, you may not have to wait three years. I hate I come off as being so negative. I am really excited about this Hawks team and think Josh can take his game to the next level being THE guy. PJIII just would have made it easier.

northcyde

October 17th, 2012
3:57 pm

All I know is that we need one guy on the floor at the 2 or the 3 who can be somewhat of a defensive presence. What we don’t need are 2 offensive players.

PG – Teague
G – Stevenson
F – Korver
PF – Smith
C – Horford

or

PG – Teague
G – Harris
F – James
PF – Smith
C – Horford

6th – Williams ( G )
7th – Harris/Stevenson ( G )
8th – Zaza ( C )
9th – Korver/James ( F )
10th – Ivan ( F )

northcyde

October 17th, 2012
3:58 pm

I’ve already convinced myself that Drew wouldn’t dare play Jenkins this year . . at least not meaningful minutes in the regular rotation.

cp

October 17th, 2012
3:58 pm

One thing I think some scouts overlooked about Jones was the guard play at Baylor. Those dudes were some chuckers. There would be times they would come down and wouldn’t even pass the ball to the bigs. I think that hurt him a lot too. Not being aggressive and some chucking guards is not a good combo.

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
4:00 pm

glw…you are correct, Ferry said that Sund & his team made these draft picks, but that he agreed with them. I think Ferry knew he had more issues ahead of him than who to pick in the middle of this draft.

In hindsight, I’d love to have PJ3, but guys usually drop for a reason, and Jones dropped about 10 places from where he was projected. Hawks had 6 players under contract (only 2 guards/1 of which had been playing forward).

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
4:03 pm

northcyde…I noticed you have Morrow burried on the bench too. I wonder how he will accept that given that he’s been averaging 20+ minutes a night in recent years?

paian

October 17th, 2012
4:04 pm

Idk why u guys think john jenkins is one dimensional, the guy cant help hes a 3pt specialist, he has athleticism also, and he was always hitting the gym b4 preseason. Hes a hard worker just give him time forchristsake

John

October 17th, 2012
4:10 pm

Jenkins is a hard worker but I think his game, coming from college, translates into a 3 point specialist. I think he will be a good one and I think he will play well for us. I am not saying he is a bust. He just isn’t the player PJ3 can be.

Northcyde, I like your second lineup. I think one of the three, Teague, Williams, and Harris will be underutilized if two come off the bench. Granted, none of them are true SGs.

Ken Strickland

October 17th, 2012
4:13 pm

OBRIEN-If we start Stevenson at SG, along with James at SF, that would allow teams tp zone us up, clog the lanes, and dare Stevenson, James, and Josh to beat us from the outside. The Bulls have an MVP All star PG and a top 2 DEF. Yet they’ve had trouble advancing in the playoffs because they can’t score effectively from the outside. We’d end up in the same boat if we started none shooters like Stevenson and James.

If teams zone us or clogged the lane to force us to beat us from the outside, can you imagine how unsuccessful we’d be relying on Stevenson, James, Teague and Josh to be effective shooting jumpshots? Stevenson will come off the bench as a DEF specialist and Korver will be his OFF counterpart.

CP-Why not look at Morrow’s body of work as a starter during last yrs regular season rather than passing judgement on him based soley on limited play in just 3 exhibition gms?

paian

October 17th, 2012
4:14 pm

yea he was made into one but in highschool he wasnt a 3pt specialist

John

October 17th, 2012
4:15 pm

Paian, you can’t compare the NBA to high school. Kwame Brown, in highschool, could do it all. No player in the NBA was only a 3 point specialist in high school.

glw

October 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

@northcyde and Just Joe,

I am on board with the thinking that you have to mix 1 off. guy with 1 def. guy (Harris, Korver or James/Stevenson. Just Joe, I see Stevenson playing much like you described (beginning of 1st and 3rd quarter) maybe a few more minutes against a DWade or Kobe. And I see James being a 8-10 minute guy if he comes off the bench, if he starts maybe a 12-15 min guy. Assuming that James/Stevenson would play at best 30 minutes a night. YOu have abou 18-20 minutes a night that you dont have 1 of those defensive guys out there. Who does those minutes go to?

paian

October 17th, 2012
4:19 pm

how did i compare? i just said he was made into a 3pt specialist, that was it. Hes not like kyle korver, now hes one dimensional.

Just Joe

October 17th, 2012
4:26 pm

glw…(those 15 minutes that you projected neither James or Stevenson would be on the floor) I think James averages closer to 20 minutes a night (rather than 12). I’d also slide Josh down to SF for at least an average of 8 minutes a night.

Astro Joe

October 17th, 2012
4:30 pm

Just Joe, with Teague and Devin getting a lot of dribble penetration, I could als see value in having Stevenson standing behind the 3-line waiting for the open bomb. Josh and Al will (hopefully) be near the paint for the dump-off pass. I think that is what LD needs to figure out soon, since it appears he has decided on a Teague/Harris tandem.