Atlanta Hawks: Five things learned from the preseason (updated)

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

With the Hawks’ regular-season opener just three days away, here are five things we’ve learned after a month of training camp and exhibition games.

1. New offense modifications

With a roster of new players, just five returnees, coach Larry Drew set about re-writing his offensive playbook. There was speed at the guard position and a depth of outside shooters to employ.

The offense struggled at times during exhibition games as players – new and old – worked to implement the new system. Drew and his staff have spent several practices since the final exhibition game going over what has already been put in place. There is more offense to install. In all, the Hawks scored 92 or more points in six of their seven exhibitions.

Drew has tweaked his playbook since getting an up-close look at his roster and seeking player input. He modified it based on such things as what side of the court or angle a player prefers to run an offensive set.

“As a coach I’m always looking to see if something fits our club,” Drew said. “It really has to fit our club, our personnel. If I see something that needs to be tweaked, I will certainly tweak it.”

2. Winning on road

The Hawks finished with an exhibition record of 3-4, three wins at home and four losses on the road. They outscored the competition 299-241 at home and were outscored 417-387 on the road. Drew said this new group must learn, as a unit, the differences between playing home and away.

“I don’t think you can play on the road the same way to play at home,” Drew said. “You can’t play a total freestyle type of game. You have to have some discipline to your game on the road. You have to be able to control the rhythm of the game. How do you do that? Good shot selection. You have to limit your turnovers. You have to rebound the basketball. You have to dictate the pace of that game. Those four games we were looking at a lot of things but as we move forward, it’s something I’ll be spending more and more time with.”

3. Areas of concern

The Hawks will be at a significant size disadvantage this season, especially at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Departed Joe Johnson (6-foot-7) and Marvin Williams (6-9) were big for the positions. Devin Harris (6-3) and Lou Williams (6-1) will see significant time at shooting guard.

“We are really small at the 2-guard position,” point guard Jeff Teague said. “But I think if we play really scrappy and play hard like I know we can, I think we’ll be really good.”

Defensive rebounding is another area of concern. The Hawks allowed an average of 45.59 defensive rebounds in seven exhibition games, third-worst in the preseason. Only Dallas (49.88) and Charlotte (46.25) were worse.

Points in the paint, which could be bolstered from last year with speedy guards breaking down an opponent, will be an area worth watching.

4. Sharing the basketball

Through the exhibition season, the Hawks showed a propensity to share the ball. It’s no small challenge with the number of speedy guards and outside shooters. They had 19 or more assists in six of their seven exhibitions. Even as they worked in a number of players and rotations they were 12th in the NBA during the preseason with an average of 20.8 assists a game.

“We are very unselfish,” Josh Smith said. “There was some uncertainty because everyone was new but we quickly gelled. The cohesiveness is there.”

5. Roster flexibility

Although they brought 19 players to training camp, it was always a real possibility the team would carry less than the NBA maximum of 15 players on its roster. The regular season will begin with 14 players. Now, the Hawks have the flexibility to add a player via trade or signing during the season should a move be available. The Hawks did scan the waiver wire but elected to keep the open spot. In addition, the team can dress out 13 players for regular-season games. The current philosophy is that the team is not helped with a player participating in practices but relegated to inactive status for games.

Damion James, the final cut, gave the Hawks reason to reconsider. Drew said James probably should have made the club. However, together with management, roster flexibility was deemed important.

* In other practice news: Rookie Mike Scott did not practice Tuesday with flu-like symptoms. The forward reported to Philips Arena but was sent home. Also, center Johan Petro (back) did not practice for a second straight day. … According to a report, the Hawks were to work out Kyrylo Fesenko on Tuesday. The team would not confirm nor deny the report. I can say that it is common practice for team’s to work out players. Such a workout does not necessarily lead to a signing.

- Chris Vivlamore

LATEST NEWS

* Teague, Pachulia return to full-contact practice, ready for opener

* Failure not an option for Tolliver

* Hawks ownership ‘extremely’ fortunate to keep stake in team

* Anderson, James waived in final cuts

* Video: Hawks still implementing new offense

* Roster breakdown

* Injury update, Petro frustrated

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

50 comments Add your comment

MsDee

October 30th, 2012
4:11 pm

Chris V,

Do u have any word on Kyle Fresenko? We heard that he tried out with the Hawks today

paian

October 30th, 2012
4:12 pm

Chris Vivlamore

October 30th, 2012
4:30 pm

I am looking into Fesenko.

leon

October 30th, 2012
4:31 pm

HAWKS! HAWKS! HAWKS! third

grimey

October 30th, 2012
4:34 pm

Fesenko could he solid. Better than a petro cut petro sign freebooters. Have Damion James in d league for us

Just Joe

October 30th, 2012
4:40 pm

The rebounding piece will be huge, but you can’t just look at the 45 defensive rebounds allowed in the preseason. A lot of that has to do with how poorly we shot the basketball and the pace we played at. I’d be more worried about how many offensive rebounds we allowed (which I can’t look up at the moment).

Hawks need more size in its 10-deep rotation, but size aint walking through that door anytime soon. Hopefully by the trade deadline.

MsDee

October 30th, 2012
4:46 pm

Ok, thx Chris V

paian

October 30th, 2012
4:58 pm

yea just joe, ofc other teams might have higher defensive rebounds since we shoot more jump shots now

O'Brien

October 30th, 2012
5:01 pm

Not an LD fan, but I will give him some credit for this.

He modified it based on such things as what side of the court or angle a player prefers to run an offensive set..

We see coaches in the NFL do this all the time with their QB. Hopefully the execution will be there.

As for playing on the road, it will be interesting to see if LD alters his game plan on the road. In the past, he would have the team slow it down on the road. Given the roster makeup, I don’t think we can win if we slow it down.

Just joe,

With the poor rebounding numbers in the preseason, we also have to consider how many minutes Josh, Al and Zaza played, because they are our 3 best rebounders. If I’m not mistaken, their minutes were limited some games.

carlton

October 30th, 2012
5:03 pm

I’ll be surprised if DF doesn’t find a big chunk for the middle. Won’t be worldbeater, but can can rebound and clog.

carlton

October 30th, 2012
5:03 pm

I’ll be surprised if DF doesn’t find a big chunk for the middle. Won’t be worldbeater, but can can rebound and clog.

Chris Vivlamore

October 30th, 2012
5:54 pm

Blog updated with item on Fesenko. Team with neither confirm nor deny the report he worked out. Not uncommon practice for teams to work out players. Such a workout does not necessarily lead to a signing.

BoonDox

October 30th, 2012
6:13 pm

Man fesenko is way better than petro and he is feisty plays with a bit of presence in the paint.

Luke Cage

October 30th, 2012
6:23 pm

SWEET CHRISTMAS!!!

MattP

October 30th, 2012
6:49 pm

I hope the Fesenko, will be better then Petro. Would explain why they cut Benson so early and why they left a roster spot open.

MattP

October 30th, 2012
6:50 pm

*I hope they sign Fesenko*

Wish there was a edit button.

22 Drew

October 30th, 2012
7:00 pm

I’m excited about the coming b-ball season, let’s get it started.(In Ferry We Trust)

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan

Eric

October 30th, 2012
7:08 pm

Hawks have a good chance at 2nd or 3rd place in the East, everybody besides Miami has serious problems. Chicago=Rose injury, Knicks=Amare Injury, Boston=old and small, Pacers=Granger injury, and Philly=Bynum’s bad knees.

darrell starks

October 30th, 2012
7:09 pm

Hawks should sign Kyle Fesenko ASAP.

Need a big to backup Zaza at center.

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

darrell starks

October 30th, 2012
7:10 pm

LD will have no chance as a coach if Danny not atleast try give him more size.

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

darrell starks

October 30th, 2012
7:15 pm

Like i said Josh and Horford starting at front court look for Hawks win no more than 35games this year, playing small in front court and back court will not cut it in the NBA unless you have superstars on your team with atleast one true big starting.

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

keith

October 30th, 2012
7:26 pm

I would start Fesenko ahead of Zsa Zsa Pachulia. I believe this kid is more athletic than Zsa Zsa.

kbb

October 30th, 2012
7:29 pm

Great work as usual C-Viv!

Slimjr

October 30th, 2012
7:43 pm

Miami Heat are receiving their Championship Ring on TNT right now!

Maybe in 6 years that will be the Hawks on TNT receiving theirs?

Long way to go Grasshopper…

Danny will earn his keep in this off season.. Wonder if Josh is going Hollywood in 2013? Hmmmm

Slimjr

October 30th, 2012
7:49 pm

Do you basketball fans know which guy put James Harden on the bench to become the 6th man in OKC?

His name is Jeff Green and he plays for the Boston Celtics!!!! Hmmmm

The Celtics are the Truth! Oh the Humanity!

Astro Joe

October 30th, 2012
7:50 pm

Fesenko is HUGE and athletic but historically has made little effort to learn how to play NBA basketall. He didn’t just become big and athletic yesterday and every team could use a player with his physical attributes. There is a reason he is available.

cp

October 30th, 2012
8:01 pm

Well Astro Joe pretty much summed up my feelings about Fesenko.

darrell starks

October 30th, 2012
8:02 pm

1.Teague should starte at PG.

2. Lou Should starte at SG, he would take up Joe slack in scoring department.

3. Josh should starte at SF, giving Hawks and advantage in the low post against smaller guys, also you best defender at SF.

4. Horford should starte at PF, finally after 5years no more wear and tear on the body going against guys 2 or 3 inches taller than him every night.

5. Zaza should starte at center, your hustle man around the boards for second chancee points and also giving you more of a legit center with size.

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

NumberOneDirtyBird

October 30th, 2012
8:36 pm

Here is what history shows you about mediocrity in the NBA…you need to stink bad for a couple of years in order to hope to get a all star player from the draft. The Hawks are always in the middle…and thus never bad or great just good enough to make playoff and exit in the first or second round! I will watch this year but I know what to expect! At least Joe Johnson’s is off the team…who thought that fool was worth max money???

Big Ray

October 30th, 2012
8:50 pm

Fesenko, Petro….sounds the same to me.

LD says James should have made the club but flexibility was more important.

Heh…Tolliver and Scott better show something or somebody is gonna get clowned.

Korver will start at SF. Here we go…

Runner-

October 30th, 2012
9:14 pm

“Defensive rebounding is another area of concern.”

Well, no sh*t considering you waived the only reliable rebounder we had coming off the bench other than Zaza…

Slimjr

October 30th, 2012
10:45 pm

Heat put up 120 and made it look easy against the men in Green..

Impressive..

Note: LD is talkin out of his crack and I’m not talking about his mouth….

glw

October 30th, 2012
11:53 pm

Caught this post on twitter.

man somebody wrong for this….

It’s a damn shame what’s happened to Andrew Bynum since the LA traded him: pic.twitter.com/rnWgfnrY

glw

October 30th, 2012
11:56 pm

Harpie

October 31st, 2012
12:24 am

6. The Hawks have an idiot for a coach, and he will prove it once again this season.

High-sider

October 31st, 2012
1:35 am

Mav[erick]s lasso Lakers 99-91

2012-2013 Lakers: 0-9 [0-8 in preseason, 0-1 in the regular season]

Lakers shot 12-of-31 from the FT line [38.7%]; that’s 19 missed free throws. Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill shot 3-of-14 and 1-of-6 from the FT line, respectively.

Hey, Coach [Mike] Brown, can you say “hot seat”?

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

October 31st, 2012
2:22 am

Jae Evolution

October 31st, 2012
2:24 am

Everyone on Inside the NBA openly trashed the Princeton offense.

Just Joe

October 31st, 2012
5:49 am

Steve Nash with only 4 assists in 34 minutes? Sounds like Mike Brown is a little confused about how to play with his new toys.

MsDee

October 31st, 2012
8:29 am

Wow, Lakers havent seen a win so far this season..Coach Mike Brown nor Dwight looks to be staying in LA long!!

doc

October 31st, 2012
8:42 am

slimj, from here it doesnt look good for amar’e. better go to europe and get the injection kobe and roy got to get a little more milage on that wheel:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/sports/basketball/stoudemire-to-miss-six-to-eight-weeks.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121031

i think it makes woody’s job easier and a blessing in disguise,

doc

October 31st, 2012
8:45 am

superman? and it didnt even require the original kryptonite himself twin. d12 might be the most pampered big man ever. sad to see nash involved in all this and wonder how long before the rebellion starts.

doc

October 31st, 2012
8:47 am

cudos to j heyward of the braves good story and a star rising.

MsDee

October 31st, 2012
8:48 am

Can ya say, “Welcome BACK to the ATL, Dwight!!

Peter

October 31st, 2012
8:51 am

The real news is… WE still DO NOT have a legit Center……Al is a power forward playing that position, and will be dominated by teams who actually do.

I hope they do well this year, and the ball movement hopefully will make a hig difference with JJ departed.

vava74

October 31st, 2012
9:47 am

Peter,

There are only a handful of “legitimate centers”. How you go about getting one of them?

vava74

October 31st, 2012
9:50 am

The Princeton offense takes the ball out of the PG and relies on heavy passing.

That’s the precise opposite you need to do in order to extract the maximum out of Nash.

Nash needs to handle the rock ALL THE TIME in order to create for others and justify his presence on the court.

If Nash can’t handle the rock and create plays at the pace he usually does, then his defensive deficiencies outweigh his offensive contribution.

MsDee

October 31st, 2012
9:55 am

Ok, after watching the Heat/Boston game last night, clearly the better team was Miami WITH LEBRON, but w/o Lebron, the Heat is just another team. Boston was right there for the taking but Miami was able to hold on to their lead. With that being said, we have a great chance of surprising a lot of people. LeBron may not be able to finish out game since he keeps having these leg cramps. They started towards the end of the finials last season and now during the 1st game of this season. With all of these KEY players injured, and I dont mean just hurt, but serious injuries, with Kobe, Bynum, Granger, Amare, and now LeBron, this season may be our best chance to really making some noise around the NBA world. What do u guys think?

Sam

October 31st, 2012
9:58 am

Josh starting at SF would be a nightmare. Besides Horford, Smith is the one player we cannot afford to have get into foul trouble.

Someone like Paul Pierce or Lebron would have him with 2 fouls in the first 5 minutes. Josh gets too jacked up when he is guarding a star and tends to try and overdo it sometimes.

vava74

October 31st, 2012
10:14 am

Josh’s man to man D is not good enough to guard Lebron more than token possessions as a “change of pace” defender.

We need a player who can contribute defensively and on hustle plays but will not be missed offensively if he gets in foul trouble and has to be pulled out.

Without Josh on the floor on account of fouls we do not stand a change to beat any playoff bound teams unless its one of those nights that shots from everyone are going in.

On a normal day, Josh has to be on the floor for 38 minutes minimum.