Vivlamore reporting before Hawks practice Wednesday.
I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about the reasons the Hawks have to be optimistic about the upcoming season. There were so many changes in the offseason, from the front office to nine new players. What is to prevent this team from taking a step backward with all those changes, including the loss of a six-time All-Star?
So I asked.
Here is what coach Larry Drew and three of the five returning players had to say when I asked “What makes you optimistic about this season?”
“I think we are going to give ourselves a chance every single night because we have guys who can score the basketball. Where we have to become better, to become more of a unit, is on the defensive end. We have to make more of a commitment as a unit on the defensive end. Yeah, we have a lot of shooters. We have speed. We have quickness. But I tell these guys every day that we cannot hang our hat on just that. We have to be a team that will come out and defend every night. If we do that, we give ourselves a great chance. That’s the bottom line. Every single night that we step between those lines we have to be a team that is totally committed to defending. I’m very optimistic I have [that kind of team].”
“I’m optimistic about our experience. I’m optimistic about the speed that we have. This team definitely has some advantages – and weaknesses at the same time, nobody is perfect. Because we are using the word optimistic you have to look at the bright side, the positive side. We have to use our advantages. The athleticism. We can run because of our speed. We have great shooters. We set good screens for our shooters. We have to play the right way. Kyle Korver made a great point the other day. It’s not enough just to play hard, you have to play smart as well.”
“If we play like the way we can play, I think we are going to be good. Our focus has always been defense but it’s a different atmosphere. Everybody is here ready to work. Everybody is buying into the system. Everybody wants to play. Nobody wants to sit out the drills. That’s a first since I’ve been here. I’ve been with a lot of veteran guys so most of the guys would sit out and not be in the drills the whole time. Now, we’re fighting for who is going to be out there. It’s a good feeling.”
“We have to be confident. We have to be confident that we can play with anybody we step out on the floor against. I think we are a pretty confident ball club. I think we can do some big things. We are definitely going to fly under the radar because we are always the unmentionables. It’s OK. We like that. We like being the underdogs. We are going to come in and establish ourselves. I think if we get off to a good start, we are going to be OK.”
“I’m optimistic seeing how well Josh played last season and seeing how well Jeff and Zaza played and what Ivan (Johnson) showed. Of the returning guys, I’m very encouraged. Obviously, I was injured but I know what I can bring to the table and to this team. I’m excited about what we have coming back and the additions were necessary. I think we are going in a different direction. I don’t want to say we take a step back. Last year’s team, we kind of ran our course. It was time for a change. I think we are going in a different direction but I feel good about what we have in this locker room.”
A note to be careful this evening – and enjoy – with all the little ones out and about for Halloween.
- Chris Vivlamore
Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks