The Hawks have taken great pains the last two off seasons to retain their core group. However, with previous head coach Mike Woodson not being brought back by the club, the entered into one of its most important pre-seasons ever. New Hawks Coach Larry Drew is bringing his own philosophies on offense and defense as well as a tough attitude when it comes to practice. Last season the Hawks were one of the healthiest teams in the league. At least for this pre-season, the injury totals are mounting and many Hawks are missing some key court time.
With the Hawks facing road games in Detroit on Monday night and in Washington on Tuesday, six players did not make the trip due to injury. According to AJC beat writer Michael Cunningham those players are Jeff Teague (ankle), Marvin Williams (sick), Jason Collins (leg), Pape Sy (back), Mo Evans (knee), and Jamal Crawford (back). That doesn't even include Josh Smith who cut his hand on the rim during the exhibition opener. Also according to MC, Josh Smith will be a game time decision for Monday's game in Detroit. Smith, Evans, and Crawford all took part in open practice and didn't appear to be restricted in the light workout.
This was the second open practice that I have been able to attend. It was very different than the one that was led by Mike Woodson last year. Coach Drew wore a microphone but didn't address the crowd. The team instead got right to work going through some situations before they boarded a plane to Detroit. I thought it was really interesting that one of the first things Coach Drew demonstrated in front of the crowd were the Hawks tactics on defending the pick and roll. The first was where they hedged and recovered over the top of the screen and the other situation they simply went under the screen. As you noticed, switching was not an option.
Defensively they also worked on their rotations when double teaming. The team showed two looks first sending the double as the post dribbles and then simply on the pass. The key part of the drill was for the player double team to quickly rotate out to the perimeter as the ball swung from the post to the perimeter.
The crowd was also treated to some looks at the new offensive philosophy. One thing that is clear in this offense is that there are a lot of movement and different looks but still at this point it is still very much a work in progress with Drew stopping practice to instruct players. They closed open practice with the "Bigs" challenging the Guards to a shooting contest where the "Bigs" won 2 out of 3 sets. Practice lasted about an hour and a half and it gave Hawks fans a free opportunity to look at the team up close as well an insight into an everyday NBA practice.