Atlanta Hawks: Roster breakdown

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice. Here is the roster breakdown story for Tuesday’s print edition of the AJC.

Less than a week remains before NBA rosters must be trimmed to a maximum of 15 players by Monday. The Hawks brought 19 players into training camp and the roster now stands at one over the limit. It is possible the team will go into the regular season with fewer than the maximum, allowing management flexibility to make an early-season trade or signing.

Here is a look at how the roster is shaping up prior to the Nov. 2 regular-season opener.

Roster size

The Hawks will have at least 13 players on their roster. Only 13 will be active for games. They have guaranteed contracts with 11 veterans and first-round draft pick John Jenkins. Second-round pick Mike Scott has a partially guaranteed contract. His contract becomes fully guaranteed if he is still on the roster Jan. 10.

Of keeping all 13 guarantees on the roster head coach Larry Drew said, “That is pretty set.”

Drew said he and general manager Danny Ferry have yet to decide on how many players they will keep.

“For me, and I’ve done it both ways,” Drew said of staying at or below the maximum. “We’ve had 13 and we’ve kept two spots open. I’ve had 14 and we’ve kept one. Or we’ve kept 15 guys. It’s a matter of looking at what we feel is going to be the best for our club. We’ve got some guys in here who are fighting for a roster spot. Guys I really like. After this is all said and done we’ll sit down with management and make a decision.”

Three for one

If the Hawks keep 15 players that leaves Anthony Tolliver, Damion James and James Anderson competing for the two remaining spots. Tolliver (6-foot-8) and James (6-7) give the Hawks options at the forward position. Anderson (6-6) is a guard, a position the Hawks have depth. Defensive ability, and how quickly each learns schemes, may well decide who stays.

Stepping up

James has impressed with his play during exhibition games. He has appeared in five games, including two starts, and has averaged 7.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. He came off the bench in Saturday’s win over Dallas and had 10 points and seven rebounds in less than 17 minutes.

“I think I’ve been doing pretty good the whole preseason,” James said. “I’m going to continue to play the way I play. If you play the way you are supposed to play, good things will happen.”

In six exhibitions, Tolliver has averaged 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds. Anderson, in five games, has averaged 1.8 points and 0.8 rebounds.

Going small

In the numerous offseason moves made by Ferry, the Hawks became a smaller team than in the recent past. It’s an issue, especially on the defensive end, that the team will have to overcome.

“We might just be a little undersized,” Josh Smith said. “We were undersized before but we are very undersized now. That shouldn’t be an issue. We have a lot of feisty and competitive people on this team who hate to lose. I think that will outweigh the so-called decreases that this team has.”

Guards

The Hawks consider their three speedy guards, all capable of playing the point, an asset. Jeff Teague returns with Devin Harris and Lou Williams added to the mix. Harris and Williams, and perhaps eventually Teague, can also play shooting guard. Each are an option to replace Joe Johnson.

The Hawks added a number of long-range shooters at the position in Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow and Jenkins.

Forwards

Smith will return as the power forward. Ivan Johnson and Scott will be backups. Johnson can play center if pressed into action. Korver and Stevenson may see time at small forward.

“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,” Drew said.

Centers

A healthy Al Horford will start at center. He will be backed up by Zaza Pachulia and Johan Petro. There will be times when Drew wants a bigger lineup that Pachulia will play center, Horford power forward and Smith small forward.

Bench

The starting lineup is to be determined at shooting guard and small forward. It appears that Harris and Stevenson will initially fill those positions based on exhibition games. However, Drew stresses no decisions have been made and the lineup likely will change based on matchups.

The coach said he will sit down with each player this week to discuss his role. He wants to avoid any confusion.

“So everybody will be clear,” Drew said. “So there won’t be any guess work about ‘What am I supposed to do? What do you want me to do?’ We’ll eliminate that.”

- Chris Vivlamore

LATEST NEWS

* Injury update, Petro frustrated

* Many options at small forward

* Offense steps up in win over Mavs

* Teague out versus Mavericks

* Rookies getting noticed

* Hawks overcome slow start to beat Hornets

* Preseason more about evaluation

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

310 comments Add your comment

Chris Vivlamore

October 22nd, 2012
2:21 pm

Quick practice update: The Hawks held a non-contact practice Monday by just working on offensive sets. LD would not say which, if any, of the injured players would play in Friday’s exhibition finale.

ag

October 22nd, 2012
2:39 pm

Sam

October 22nd, 2012
2:49 pm

The Truth

October 22nd, 2012
3:07 pm

“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.” – LD

These comments from LD can be summed-up in 2 words, “playing politics” with his roster. LD infatuation for DeShawn and Korver haven’t matched their preseason performances. But I’m surprise as this has been a pattern throughout his HC coaching with the Hawks.

With the exception of the Heat game in which LBJ was mostly preoccupied thinking about his China trip; DeShawn has been DNP or played subpar. Korver also has played subpar to OK but nothing outstanding. So why is LD loving these to two players at the SF position? With a preseason record of 3-3, what exactly is he seeing that we bloggers are not about these players at SF? I submit LD has been building a case all along to do what he as already made-up in his mind to do, cut bait with certain players regardless of how well they’ve been playing.

Despite the fact that LD has given Tolliver 14 more minutes of PT over James during these preseason games even though James has still outperformed Tolliver in the critical areas that matters must to the Hawks; defense and rebounding. Even if you consider the offense production of both players, the idea that Tolliver is a better offensive option is also untrue. The 6 games Tolliver has played, he’s average 8 pts/gm compared to 5 games James has played and averaged 7.4 pts/gm; nearly the same. To sum this up, James has nearly matched Tolliver scoring production given fewer minutes.

Even more impressive for James, however; he’s far exceeded Tolliver in rebounding at 7 RB/gm vs. Tolliver 3.6 RB/gm. He’s also double assist at 2/gm compared to Tolliver’s 1/gm. His trips to the FT line are at a higher rate 11-13 compared to Tolliver 4-6. To sum this up, James is better overall and considering these other factors would make his teammates around him better if he’s in the lineup more so than Tolliver.

However, Tolliver has shined with his 3-pt shooting at 57% and his FG at 52% compared to James FG % at 42%. James has not attempted a 3-pt shot. But surely these two factors alone shouldn’t favor Tolliver over James. Especially given our redundancy at the PF position, it would seem Tolliver is more expendable than James.

But my guess is that LD is not seeing the obvious and he is just overly in love with Tolliver’s 3-ball. If it plays out that James is cut over Tolliver, it will be an outrage. Either they are both cut (which would be senseless) or they are both retained (the best option). Any other options are unacceptable. No amount of double-talking is going to convince Hawksville otherwise.

Section 303

October 22nd, 2012
3:08 pm

I could see the starting lineup being fluid at shooting guard. Harris and Stevensen will probably both start games this year at the 2.

I like Stephensen a lot. Tough player…we need more guys like that. He still has this year and next on his contract, correct?

Section 303

October 22nd, 2012
3:08 pm

Also, finalized plans to see the Hawks play the Nets, in Brooklyn on Sunday, March 17. Already looking forward to that trip.

The Truth

October 22nd, 2012
3:09 pm

“But I’m not surprise as this has been a pattern throughout his HC coaching with the Hawks”

cp

October 22nd, 2012
3:20 pm

I have to agree with you Truth. I said that after watching a few games that James should be the starter at sf. I know some on here love Stevenson’s attitude but im more about production and James has been better. I usually just ignore whatever LD says because he has shown to do the complete opposite of whatever he says. I think they should keep James and Tolliver and cut Anderson. James should be the starter because we need a guy who plays defense and rebounds.

The Truth

October 22nd, 2012
3:25 pm

“So everybody will be clear,” Drew said. “So there won’t be any guess work about ‘What am I supposed to do? What do you want me to do?’ We’ll eliminate that.”

LOL, Petro must have induce this comment quoting him frustrated in the previous article from C-V

Ra'mon

October 22nd, 2012
3:29 pm

If LD doesn’t start James, there will be a few GMs calling Ferry to see if they can acquire James for a 2nd round pick or so. They will try to get James in a steal of a deal, because their head coach RECOGNIZES the players who should get significant playing time.

TIP

October 22nd, 2012
3:38 pm

I hope Harris starts. Teague is solid but he is weak/ average in finishing at the rim and he hasn’t shown me that he can lead a team at a high level, especially in the half court.

Grandad

October 22nd, 2012
3:51 pm

No guesswork … that`s a new one;
edict from Mr Ferry no doubt.

Surely, DFerry will not abide with LD cutting DJames.

Sam

October 22nd, 2012
3:57 pm

More about Damion James!! Wait til the season starts and he is averaging 3 points and 2 rebounds in 8 minutes off the bench. None of you will be shouting about how he needs to be in the starting lineup then. I take that back, everyone will be blaming it on Horford, Smith, or Drew at that point saying James is just not “getting opportunities”. You guys make it out like he is the next Scottie Pippen.

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:00 pm

CV,

If you get the opportunity again to talk with Drew, could u ask him about his feelings on Damion James? If he won’t say much, just inform him on how much us Hawks fans would just LOVE to see him on the team. He is such a hustler and tough rebounder that it would just be hard to not see him on this team. Let him know that both James and Ivan are fans favorites here so do not disappoint us..thx!!

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:04 pm

So Sam, who do u suppose should fill in at SF if not Damion James?????

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:09 pm

Sam,

Averaging 3 points and 2 rebounds in 8 minutes is actually good. Now if he is averaging those numbers in 15 min or so, then u have a case.

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:12 pm

Marc J. Spears: Free agent guard Gilbert Arenas is close to signing a one-year deal in China with the Guandong Southern Tigers, a source told Yahoo! Sports. Twitter @SpearsNBAYahoo

Is China the new NBA for the tired players of old??

myrak43

October 22nd, 2012
4:22 pm

Roy Kittles

October 22nd, 2012
4:23 pm

With the way the hawks are constructed James is a must. Korver will get ate up by the pierce’s and lebrons, and any other decent SF. I like Stevenson but James is younger and hungrier. Besides I think the hawks have enough jump shooters.

myrak43

October 22nd, 2012
4:23 pm

I have never had a 1st post.

myrak43

October 22nd, 2012
4:25 pm

I have yet to see any of the Hawks preseason games….. for those of you that have, do you think that Scott can play SF?

Astro Joe

October 22nd, 2012
4:36 pm

While James has earned a starting spot, I’m not sure if it makes that much difference if he is the starting SF in November or in mid-December. My guess is that this will be an ongoing process to set rotations including the starting line-up.

Astro Joe

October 22nd, 2012
4:39 pm

And I’ll add this, starting Damion James in the fierst game of the season or starting James in game #20 of the season won’t make much difference in this team’s overall fortunes. If they need to highlight guys like Moprrow, Korver or DeShawn to try and get them traded for more than stale bags of chips, so be it. Let’s not lose sight of the ultimate goal… more assets in July to build a REAL team. This season’s results are discretionary.

Just Joe

October 22nd, 2012
4:40 pm

I don’t see Scott playing much SF. He’s already struggling with defensive positioning & footwork, and that’s against usually bigger, slower PF’s (comparing to SF’s). Scott needs to hit the boards harder and keep working on his defense. I think he’s a natural scorer whether inside or outside, he just has to stop giving the points back on the other end.

D. Ransby

October 22nd, 2012
4:48 pm

@myrak43 No he can’t. He lacks the lateral agility to keep up with other small forwards. He needs a lot of work on defense, but has a good upside. Offensively, he can hit any shot on the floor. He can shoot 3’s and finish at the rim. Very efficient, takes advantage of slower PFs. Needs to work on rebounding, but he is looking like a steal in the second. If he can up his defensive ability, he definitely can be an asset…

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:50 pm

myrak43,

I went to the Dallas game and NO, Scott cant play SF even though he dominated that game with 17pts!

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:53 pm

myrak43,

In other words, Scott would be the PREFECT SF if u could combine his offense with Marvin’s defense

MsDee

October 22nd, 2012
4:54 pm

Or should I have said Marvin would have been the prefect SF if u combine his defense with Scott’s offense

The Truth

October 22nd, 2012
5:04 pm

“I have yet to see any of the Hawks preseason games….. for those of you that have, do you think that Scott can play SF?”

The rookie Scott has publicly express how challenging it is to play defense in the NBA. Given that he has made his mark in college playing PF, I would expect him switching position would be become a burden and might farther delay his maturation. He also previously mentioned his preference for playing PF meaning that is what he wants to play. Danny Ferry has publicly echoed the same sentiments.

In reviewing his pre-draft workout compared to Tolliver:

Scott (weighs 241 lbs) sprints at 3.44 with 11.59 agility vs. Tolliver (weighs 242 lbs) sprints @ 3.29 with 11.49 agility.

The verdict: Though they both are about the same weight, Tolliver is actually faster and slightly more agile than Scott suggesting he’s better able to guard SFs as compared to Scott.

But Damion James who weighs 224 lbs, sprints at 3.09 with a 11.23 agility beats them both.

MattP

October 22nd, 2012
5:23 pm

Teague has alot of work to do if he wants to keep his starting spot. Both Harris and Williams looked good driving and making plays for their teammates.

Jerry Glanville

October 22nd, 2012
5:24 pm

I am not really comfortable with Johan Petro backing up at the 5. I think that K. Benson would have been more of a presence on both sides of the ball. W

Jerry Glanville

October 22nd, 2012
5:26 pm

I am not comfortable with our backups at the 5 position. There may still be guys out there who can give us more than Johan Petro and Pachulia?

vava74

October 22nd, 2012
5:31 pm

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba–dwight-howard-s-lakers-debut-begins-with-honest-intro-from-kobe-bryant-22482109.html

Excellent piece illustrating the attraction of LA and the Lakers. That’s why we didn’t stand a chance – EVER – in signing Howard.

vava74

October 22nd, 2012
5:32 pm

The Truth,

Excellent post!!

MattP

October 22nd, 2012
5:34 pm

Jerry,

No one is comfortable with Petro, he actually makes me want Collins back. I think Drew will be playing Ivan at backup center a good bit like last year. I do wish they would have bought out Petro and keep Benson. Really disappointing to see Benson the first to go.

ntrigue

October 22nd, 2012
5:50 pm

It will be a tragedy if we release James we already messed up when we cut Benson! CV when you talk to LD ask him how he feels about adding James to the starting lineup. Thanks

Runner-

October 22nd, 2012
5:56 pm

We keep talking about our undersized guards, but what about the lack of size at center? We don’t have Collins anymore so either Petro, Zaza, or Josh will have to guard the bigger centers this year. Don’t know how much I like any of those options

vava74

October 22nd, 2012
6:02 pm

Zaza did a fine job last year. No reason to doubt he won’t do it again.

ag

October 22nd, 2012
6:11 pm

Against Dallas, LD put Ivan at center. Petro only played the last six minutes. That was really odd because ZaZa was hurt and Horford did not start the second half. Actually I guess Josh started the second half at center.

steven a smith

October 22nd, 2012
6:15 pm

I just do not believe we will move ahead of Indiana or Boston because of our poor frontcourt play.
Boston, Indiana, NewYork, and Miami, all have superior frontcourts to ours!!!

heartofdarkness

October 22nd, 2012
6:17 pm

This team will be competitive if they bring back the four corners.

Hawkfan

October 22nd, 2012
6:20 pm

Ivan can guard centers as well

darrell starks

October 22nd, 2012
6:24 pm

Like i said before if Josh starte at PF and Horford starte Center, look for the Hawks win no more than 35 games this year, it’s was a little okay last 4 year because of Joe 6′7 and Marvin 6′9 playing solid perimeter defense but it’s totally different this year.

LD still is clueless as a coach.

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

darrell starks

October 22nd, 2012
6:26 pm

Hawks can make a different in this year season only if LD understand basketball.

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

ag

October 22nd, 2012
6:43 pm

DS – I think you are overrating both Marvin and Joe’s defense. Although Marvin would check the Durants and the LBJ’s, they still got their 30 and most nights LBJ got his 40. I watched JR in Denver wear JJ out.

Just looking at the preseason so far, Teague/Harris backcourt is great, but cannot put another guard out there. What about Scott at PF and Josh at SF? So many combinations. I really like James because he rebounds the ball very well.

doc

October 22nd, 2012
6:49 pm

vava, again lakers in last 68 yrs have been to their div championship 31 times. the last 17 wcf have brought them 15 rings. that is huge. thereby, the greatest sports franchise in the world. only in the nba as well could it be accomplished. it is why those that hunger for the ring as the only raison d’etre to crown any franchise as whole, is chasing fools gold.

no, we were never in the running. stern was involved in the process to make sure it happened is my guess. hollywood baby! the only franchise in sports out there, displacing the dodgers in my lifetime and with no football competition, also in my lifetime.

Ken Strickland

October 22nd, 2012
6:59 pm

No one has had a better camp and exhibition season than DJames. I don’t know if Drew is throwing everyone a curve or not by not mentioning James as a potential starter. He might feel the need to keep him hungry, and see how he reacts to the uncertainty. There’s no other SF candidate, other than Josh, that can match his rebounding and DEF prowess at the position.

Starting anyone else at SF will definitely put undue pressure on Horford and Josh defensively and rebounding wise. We can’t run consistently if we can’t rebound consistently, and every frontline player has to contribute. Let’s not forget that Stevenson grossly underperformed accross the board last yr while primarily playing SF.

Korver is a DEF and rebounding liability, while Morrow, to a lesser degree, falls into the same category at SF. It just might all be a smoke screen by LDrew. He could be telling everyone what he thinks they want to hear by emphasing DEF and rebounding, but his focus could be exclusively on OFF production.

ag

October 22nd, 2012
7:00 pm

Not really impressed with Stevenson. Would like a way to get Benson back. He played less than Petro and did better in 1 game in much fewer minutes.

Jerry Glanville

October 22nd, 2012
7:35 pm

I hope Stevenson is inactive. I hope we start the season with Damion James at the 3 and Josh at the 4. Please bring keith benson back gm.

BasketballTopFan

October 22nd, 2012
7:40 pm

Basketball Top Fan and basketball fans worldwide anxiously await the the start of the 2012 National Basketball Association (NBA) season !!!

We wish the Atlanta Hawks the best of luck and success.

BasketballTopFan@Yahoo.com