The Atlanta Hawks are 19 games into the Mike Budenholzer era and there are a lot of distinct differences with his style and strategies over what we have seen over the last few seasons. I'm not necessarily just talking about X's and O's but in core philosophies about how things are approached on the basketball court. One of the most interesting things in general about Basketball is the many number of ways to approach it.
Under Larry Drew, the Hawks routinely adjusted their lineups according to their opponent. On most nights the first question asked of Drew during his media availability was usually about his starting lineup for the night. That has not been the case for Budenholzer who by my count has changed his starting lineup exactly once for a reason other than an injury.
Prior to Monday's game, Al Horford talked with the AJC's Chris Vivlamore about how Coach Budenholzer puts a lot more focus on the Hawks and how they are playing rather than on what the opponent might be doing.
"Honestly, his mentality is worrying about the Hawks and us going out there executing our game plan and principles - which happen to be the same as the Spurs," Horford said. "It doesn't matter who we play. That's what I've quickly figured out this year. In the past, you would always be concerned with other teams and what they are doing. Bud, really, when he says it's about us and us taking care of our business that is the way he looks at it."
Keep in mind we are not talking about in game adjustments which every team tries to do. What we are talking about is having a game plan that you believe in and perfecting that to the letter. That is a pretty big shift in philosophy with the core belief being that if we do things correctly and consistently then we will be successful. I also thought it was interesting that Horford admitted that he was skeptical of that line of thinking at first:
"At first, it took me awhile to get used to. I would sit here and say ‘What's the plan? We need to do something.' He's like ‘Nope. This is what we believe in. These are our concepts. This is what we've got to do and we've got to go out and do it. Now it makes sense."
The move from Mike Woodson to Larry Drew was significant because of the change in offensive and defensive principles. However, a large part of that staff was held over and the core concepts and terminology didn't change. This is completely different than anything Horford has experienced since he has been in the NBA so its natural for him to be somewhat skeptical at first.
Its an interesting discussion. Should a team adjust to their opponent or should a team make their opponent adjust to them? The Spurs have been very successful with the same core beliefs that Danny Ferry, Coach Bud and his staff are trying to employ in Atlanta.
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