Atlanta Hawks: Many to fill the role at small forward

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

The search is nearing an end.

Or is it?

As the Hawks wind down training camp, the revamped roster has taken shape over the course of six exhibition games. One of the biggest questions entering the preseason was what coach Larry Drew would do at the small forward position. Or call it the 3-guard, if you prefer.

The answer is Drew has options – and plenty of them. He likes it that way.

DeShawn Stevenson, Kyle Korver, Damion James, Anthony Tolliver and Josh Smith have played at the 3 during exhibitions. Stevenson and Korver  are guards.

“As I’ve said going into this preseason, my main focus was to really see what kind of combinations we can put out there and be effective,” Drew said. “We’ve gone with DeShawn at 3. I like that. We’ve gone with Kyle at the 3. I like that. We’ve gone with Josh at some 3. I like that.

“That gives us some flexibility from the standpoint that if we need to adapt and make some minor adjustments with our lineup we have the ability to do that. To say it’s a lock on any guy who is going to be starting at that position every single night, I won’t say that’s the case. I love the flexibility to be able to move guys around and experiment a little bit and to be able to make adjustments depending on who we play.”

The Hawks have a smaller team following their numerous offseason changes. The loss of 6-foot-7 Joe Johnson and the 6-9 Marvin Williams were the most notable. How they will defend the small forward position is at issue.

Drew has the ability to play Zaza Pachulia at center, move Al Horford to power forward and Smith to the small forward. Smith drew much of the assignment to guard LeBron James in the exhibition opener against the Heat.

“The 3, night in and night out, you are playing a beast at that position,” Smith said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenging position for us but at the same time we are a team. The 3 is just one position. Last time I checked there were five positions. We have to be able to help each other collectively. One guy is not going to get it done.”

Stevenson has started several of the exhibition games and said he is quite comfortable with the defensive responsibilities. The veteran points to his time with Dallas when he and Shawn Marion were assigned the opposition’s top scoring threat.

“I guard the Carmelos, the LeBrons,” Stevenson said. “On defense, I’m basically a 3 guard. I’m getting used to it. In this offense, the 3-guard is basically a 2-guard, the 2-guard is basically a 3-guard. They are interchangeable.”

The 6-8 Tolliver is an option when the Hawks go against a bigger lineup. Tolliver said he learned to play small forward last season with Minnesota and is now comfortable in the role.

While the Hawks could be undersized at the small forward position, their lineup allows them to get another shooter on the floor. With a depth of long-range shooters, they will be able to take advantage of their speed guard with Devin Harris, Lou Williams and Jeff Teague. Drew thinks the Hawks can exploit those matchups.

“We could go into this thing and the mindset be to go with the guy who we think is going to be at that position,” Drew said. “Or we can change it up. What has been good to us in the past is our ability to make adjustments during the game, whether we want to go with a small 3 or go with a big 3. As I said before, I embrace having that ability to do that. It allows you not only to adapt but we feel with our lineup, with our personnel, if we are small we can play a certain way; if we are big we can play a certain way. Our guys are very comfortable with either way. It’s been a strength of ours. I want to continue to use it.”

Practice update: The Hawks held an open practice Sunday at Philips Arena in front of a crowd of nearly 2,000. … Lou Hudson, whose No. 23 is retired by the Hawks organization, was in attendance. …  Teague (sprained left ankle), Pachulia (sprained left ankle) and John Jenkins (left hand contusion) did not participate.Horford (right calf) was limited. He expects to play in the final exhibition game Friday at Detroit.

- Chris Vivlamore

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95 comments Add your comment

Grandad

October 21st, 2012
5:06 pm

Just Joe or anyone else:

If DeSteve has a (3) yr contract but only the 1st one is
guaranteed, then if cut; are the Hawks reponsible for the final two ?
* [I would think] ?
So, a buyout would be in order, yes, no … ?
If `n he was not part of the plans.
Also, a consideration, does DeSteve have any trade value ?

Personally, sans injuries, I like his tough / hardnosed persona;
ditto:
DJames; Zaza; Ivan.
This could be the best collection of Bad-Asses
we`ve had on our team in quite some time.

Grandad

October 21st, 2012
5:06 pm

Grandad

October 21st, 2012
5:09 pm

I have yet to read the article;
just wanted to be 1st.

* * * * * My Post * * * * *
~ [was from last blog] ~

grimey

October 21st, 2012
5:23 pm

I love our roster and id love to see Josh move to the 3 often.

Grandad

October 21st, 2012
5:25 pm

LD constantly speaks of his shooters and his speedy guards
of whom have the ability to get into the paint.
-Yet-
He *’`harps`’* on Defense !

Therein lies the problem !

He never speaks of who will be the Best defender at the [3].
He talks about having a [3] guard on offense.

Listen here LD … and listen good !

LBJ is a [4] now.
But you had better have someone committed to guard him.
If you wish to be good defensively;
the don`t just give lip service.
” It`s not what you say, it`s what you emphasize ” !

You need to make Josh accountable for being a great defender;
and let him guard the other team`s best player;
or, find a [3] … DJames … and give him the job !

Quit pu$$y-footin` aroud and commit to the Defensive end of the floor !

Grandad

October 21st, 2012
5:27 pm

I just found out that one cannot say:
*’`Pu$$y-footin“’*
unless there is an intentional typo.

Grandad

October 21st, 2012
5:31 pm

* -more than one typo intentional or otherwise- @ 5:25 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

October 21st, 2012
5:33 pm

If the last two years are not guaranteed, they can cut him and only be on the hook for this year’s salary.

At least based on the one preseason game I have had a chance to see, Stevenson looks good enough for a spot on the roster, though.

Danny Ferry

October 21st, 2012
5:34 pm

James is considered a guard?

steven a smith

October 21st, 2012
5:34 pm

I have come to the conclusion that Larry Drew is a “Clueless Coach” That’s why the general Manager sent him to Europe to find a “clue.” Hope the “LIGHT” comes on for Larry before it is too late!!!! Can we trade Larry to Utah for Ty Corbin????

steven a smith

October 21st, 2012
5:37 pm

LOI(Lord of the Idiots), Al Horford, and Larry Drew to Utah for Jefferson, Ty Corbin, and a Box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts!!!

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
5:37 pm

Larry Drew has two winning seasons in a row! He’ll win his 3rd soon..

I like that. I like that. And I like that too…..

Jerry Glanville

October 21st, 2012
5:49 pm

Anyone out there ever listen to Lakers coach Mike Brown trying to explain something? I beleive that coach Drew is just a little bit bettter than Brown is.

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
5:57 pm

Grandad, those [smaller] 3’s would give Josh trouble since his [strength] is help defense. On ball not so much..

He maybe on the bench [2 foul] [Drew rule] sooner rather than later…

Just Joe

October 21st, 2012
5:58 pm

It will be a shame if Damion James does not make this roster. I can only hope that LD sees the value that this kid offers as a tough defender and rebounder. It shouldn’t matter if his offense is limited.

Runner-

October 21st, 2012
6:06 pm

Damion James over Tolliver any day, but we might see both of them go…

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
6:08 pm

FTPB

“I don’t know if Bynum can compensate for all of those losses. If they struggle because of what they’ve lost, Bynum could end up being very frustrated and disappointed. If so, he might want out of Philly, especially if those Philly fans start getting on him. That might leave a big opening for Ferry to get the the NBAs 2nd highest rated center, especially if we have a solid season.

We might end up having to do a sign and trade to get him, which would make JSmith the likely candidate, since Josh will be a FA. Bynum would give us the interior DEF, rebounding, and scoring Josh provides, but without all of the illadvised jumpshots. I’d love a frontline of Bynum, Horford and James.” -Ken S-

Hmmmm. I’m kind feeling that one Ken. Good size and strength to go with our exceptional Guards!

Can you say ECF for the very 1st time? Yes?

Melvin

October 21st, 2012
6:23 pm

“Drew said. “We’ve gone with DeShawn at 3. I like that. We’ve gone with Kyle at the 3. I like that. We’ve gone with Josh at some 3. I like that.”

I noticed he did not include Damion James, who I think is the Hawks best option.

ntrigue

October 21st, 2012
6:23 pm

Damion Jones should start at sf its a no brainer but drew will not play once the season starts unless someone gets hurt

Just Joe

October 21st, 2012
6:26 pm

For those wanting a shotblocker, the Heat cut loose Mickell Gladness today. That kid can block some shots (just not much else).

It was not a bad pick

October 21st, 2012
6:47 pm

Marvin was the answer at the 3, but the most overrated GM in the NBA traded him for another small 2 guard just like JT..smh..BAD TRADE..Marvin will shine in UTAH big time with Corbin at coach

If ferry was a good GM, he would have fired Drew..Any coach in the NBA other than woody would know to start Al at the 4 with ZaZa at the 5..Marvin was wasted after being took 2nd, now Al the 3rd pick of the whole freakin draft has been forced to play the 5 at 6ft8..You are suppose to build around top picks, not waste them with bad coaches…Al would be a monster at the 4, not to many better…

Josh has to play the 3.. he is too small the play the 4..Josh has talent but Ferry should have traded him..He is holding al back from his natural position..If he can’t play the 3, he should be traded quickly..His bad shot selection has killed the Hawks for years..time for a divorce

Sherewshevsky

October 21st, 2012
6:51 pm

I was hoping that before the end of preseason the Hawks would have let a few guards go to get a big center to at least take up some space to maintain the position versatility they could use down low. A few have been out there since summer. Beyond that, Hawks still don’t have consistent low post scorers. No need to double-team Smith or Horford. Big advantage for other teams. Typically, teams don’t win in the playoffs shooting outside jumpers.

doc

October 21st, 2012
6:52 pm

i see that slimj awakened on the light side of the bed this am. which way rolls you away from the dark dude?

knicks dont seem to have it together there yet slimj. any worries? yet? heh heh

this is not an ecf team unless the cards fall just right, as they did for the suns two years ago to leave them in the wcf. who knows but these guys could show a good brand of basketball worth watching. i will refuse to say the word entertaining but they could surprise and win upwards of 46 to 48 depending on how philly, wiz, knicks, nets and indy fall out from off season maneuvers. there was an awful lot of changes. i am not all in yet on the celts as the grind of the season might pull them down, too.

doc

October 21st, 2012
6:58 pm

marvin is the smallest 6′9″ nba player i have seen the last five years. mo evans replaced him without too many hitches guys, and that was before his back injuries. jj was a small 6′7″ shooting guard the way he got to the line and rebounded. sorry, i dont feel this size issue as we were smaller than we looked. we played slow ball to make up for it clearly with woody, then drew, as the number of possessions were small by comparison to others. pace, defensive hustle and rebounding effort might make up a lot of the deficiencies.

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
7:17 pm

Hahahah, doc got jokes too? Yea doc I’ve decide to shift gears and look for some “gold’ under every leaf..Woody better whip those dudes into tip top form or else he’ll be looking for a Greyhound Bus stop around the corner from the Madison Square Garden… LOL!

I miss DRMaryB’s input.. I do hope she comes back to join us soon?

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
7:19 pm

Sautee you have been very quite as of late…Hope all is good with you?

Rev in Tampa

October 21st, 2012
7:24 pm

Maybe it is due to the bye week for the Falcons, my ongoing disappointment for the way the Braves season ended, and fear of the outcome of the Georgia/Florida game, but i am REALLY READY for the NBA regular season to start!!!

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
7:24 pm

I have come to the conclusion that Larry Drew is a “Clueless Coach” That’s why the general Manager sent him to Europe to find a “clue.” Hope the “LIGHT” comes on for Larry before it is too late!!!! Can we trade Larry to Utah for Ty Corbin????

You’re on the mark. But I also think that it is waaaaay too late for Mr. Drew…

Buddy Grizzard

October 21st, 2012
7:26 pm

Marvin’s grandma is back!

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
7:33 pm

The idea of Andrew Bynum on our roster is a serious tease….I’d love it. Dude has the legit size/talent blend that you want in a traditional center. There is no center in the East that could stand up to him.

My only fears are these – Bynum has issues staying healthy. He also has issues staying focused. I don’t know why. But if Phil Jackson had problems getting him to do what was needed….how will it work with another coach? I have no idea what it is that motivates the guy.

But having him on the roster…man…that gives us a chance to beat ANYBODY.

Ken Strickland

October 21st, 2012
7:35 pm

The idea that we need interior players that can command double teams is over rated. We have 3 guards(Teague, Harris, Williams) that can create their own shots, get by anyone and collapse the DEF and dish, finish, or get to the FT line. With that kind of backcourt ability, we don’t need double teams to create open shots for our shooters.

The dynamics that were the driving force behind Hawk teams of the past are now a thing of the past. We’ll use speed, quickness, athleticism, versatility and depth, rather than size, height, ISOs, and a heavy reliance on one player. What was needed last yr to get our shots and score won’t be needed this yr, such as ISOs, clearouts, and heavy reliance on halfcourt sets.

If we weren’t hitting our jumpshots last yr, we had very few scoring options to fall back on and very little chance of winning. If our shots aren’t falling this yr, we have the option of turning it over to our guards to get into the lane and create scoring opportunities near the basket for themselves and others, or rely on our fastbreak. It’s a new day people, so you need to make the adjustment.

Jerry Glanville

October 21st, 2012
7:37 pm

3 NBA Tv analyst concur that Josh Smith is the Atlanta Hawk best option at the 3.

Jerry Glanville

October 21st, 2012
7:41 pm

Ken Strickland

October 21st, 2012
7:35 pm

You make a great point about our size not being a problem as far as scoring is concerned but will we be able to guard the bigger centers in the league?

Ken Strickland

October 21st, 2012
7:49 pm

BIG RAY-If we(Ferry)expect to get a difference making center in FA next yr, Bynum is our best bet. If he comes here, maybe being our #1 scoring option, rather than a 2nd or 3d scoring option due to the JJ, Kobe and Gasol factor, might motivate him to be more involved and consistent.

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
7:51 pm

Marvin Williams may do well in Utah in the beginning. After all, he will “have something to prove.”

But…

He will not “shine.” He might better hope that Gordon Hayward gets more burn at the SG position than the 3, because Hayward, despite being smaller and ligher, put up 12, 3.5, and 3 per game while starting 58 of 66 games of the season. Good ol’ Marv may find himself right back on the bench, but we’ll see.

Any illusions of grandeur are just that – illusions.

Marvin being picked 2nd overall WAS a waste. Most retarded draft move I’ve seen this franchise make in I don’t know how many years (thanks again, Billy Knight).

As for Josh vs. Al at the PF slot…that one can and has been argued both ways. Josh isn’t holding Al back. Al isn’t holding Josh back. Both players are subject to how they are coached and how they commit effort to improving their games.

Josh has not “killed” us with his jumpers. In fact, there’s a lot this team could not or would not have accomplished without him. The only thing he’s killed, really, is his chances at being an all-star.

And to be honest, that has been as much about his long road to maturity in attitude and play than anything else. Dude had a career year last season despite suffering in the FG% and FT % areas.

18.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.7 bpg. Hell of a line…

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
7:57 pm

Ken ,

True. But then, it’s the exact same reason why Philly wanted him..to be their #1 scoring option.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

Good to see Granny is still around. How is Utah treating you, Granny?

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
8:00 pm

FYI Gentlemen:

Get your pop-corn ready, NBA TV is airing the Lakers-Sacramento game @ 9:30pm. D12 may Be on the court for the first time tonight!

Little teaser being displayed on the bottom of the screen on NBA TV..

Slimjr

October 21st, 2012
8:04 pm

Big Ray, do you believe Billy Knight in an interview had the audacity to promote himself as the “Basketball Expert” on [790 the zone] with Steak Shapiro and his boys way back? Wow….

tom

October 21st, 2012
8:05 pm

So who’s going to take the last shot on this hawks team, when the situation calls for it?

Melvin

October 21st, 2012
8:05 pm

Cut Tolliver and Anderson then sign Mickael Pietrus

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
8:05 pm

High-Sider ,

I don’t think the link below is quite the statistical breakdown your looking for, however, it does provide a total breakdown of “Brick-range Shawty’s” shot distribution for the 2011-2012 regular season. The paradox I see is the difference in FG% from 10ft – 15ft (0.314) and 16ft – 3pt [arc] (0.363).

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/smithjo03/shooting/2012/

See, that’s why I needed somebody to check me, because I had a feeling I might have been orating from my anal sphincter…and apparently I was (might explain the breath smell, huh)….

On a side note, I wonder if the odd part about Josh’s ability to shoot better from 16-23 feet than from 10-15 feet has to do with the fact that when he is that far away from the basket…he’s wide-a$$ open. I mean, literally, nobody respects that jumper (and we know why), so he has time to set his feet, square his shoulders, and wind up as slow as Steve Avery used to for the Braves…might explain the better percentage…

After all, he’s not a catch-and-shoot guy by any stretch of the imagination, nor does he excel in shooting jumpers when an opponent is in his face.

But anyway…

It was not a bad pick

October 21st, 2012
8:07 pm

@Big ray

I bet josh could not have played the 5 on a top 10 nba team for 3 years..I know the regulars on here love josh, but you and I know his love affair with his jumper has been a huge problem.. remember game 6th when he had Bass one on one and completly bailed him out with a long jumper?..thats just josh being josh..Al is 10x better, he just has had to play the 5…

Marvin was not a waste, he had to defer to ball hogs like joe and jamal..Marvin came up big against bos game 6th

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
8:08 pm

Slim ,

I remember a LOT of things Knight did…including saying that he had to laugh when asked about the importance of the PG position…which he clearly did not believe in.

There’s a reason why dude doesn’t have a GM job these days. Hell, does he even HAVE an NBA job? Wikipedia doesn’t seem to think so… :twisted:

Jerry Glanville

October 21st, 2012
8:10 pm

Agreed

Cut Tolliver and Anderson then sign Mickael Pietrus

Pietrus would be a major upgrade and an immediate starter for a lot of teams in the eastern conference.

Sautee

October 21st, 2012
8:13 pm

slimjr,

Back from a mountain vacation. Thanks for asking.

Jerry Glanville

October 21st, 2012
8:14 pm

I think we are strong at center also strong at the point and 2 guard. I am not sure who is best suited for power forward?

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
8:15 pm

I bet josh could not have played the 5 on a top 10 nba team for 3 years

You’re right. But he did play the 4 on such a team….

As for Marvin having to defer….stars don’t defer…unless they are defering to other stars.

Marvin is not a star. He is a role player. There is nothing wrong with being a role player. There IS something wrong with picking a role player over stars. Deron Williams and Chris Paul are stars. They do not defer to anybody.

You may as well start figuring out who you are going to blame in Utah, because Marvin will prove his detractors right. I’ll say this – he has a shot to average what he did for us in his best year in the ATL. Maybe a little more. But not MUCH more. I predict that on the high side, if he remains healthy…he’ll give the Jazz 14-15 ppg, and around 6 rpg. But that’s assuming he plays at a high level and somebody else doesn’t “steal” his playing time by being more effective in certain situations.

Maybe Marvin does better than that if someone (Hayward) gets injured and they have no other credible options at SF.

Otherwise, I predict Marvin will do about what he normally does. 10 points or so, 4-5 rebounds or so. And not much else besides some reasonably solid defense. Would be a total difference if he had a post game. Then again, I’ve watched guys half a foot shorter than him defend him adequately in the post, so what am I saying…

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
8:19 pm

Back to Josh…we all know about the jumpers.

But I’ve seen SO many games where Al has missed several jumpers, Joe missed them, Marvin either missed or wouldn’t take them (all that deferring again), Jamal missed….it’s a team problem. It just so happens that Josh’s looked worse than most because we also KNEW he could score so well at the basket.

Implying that Josh’s jumpers have killed us is tatamount to implying that the team doesn’t have any other significant issues that contribute to losses. I don’t think you really want to go there.

Big Ray

October 21st, 2012
8:20 pm

“Marvin came up big in the 6th game in Boston”

Where was he in the other games? What, he didn’t get permission to stop deferring for those games? The circles you talk in rival the Equator…