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Atlanta Hawks News and Notes From the First Week of Training Camp

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Other than the Jamal Crawford contract situation, there hasn't been a lot of news worthy items that have come out of the first week of Hawks Training Camp. Camp kicked off on Tuesday with Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith being named as captains for the upcoming season. 

Conditioning has been a huge priority in the early stages of camp as practice began with a timed mile run. Conditioning was also the priority during the summer for Hawks Center Jason Collins as he came into camp in much better shape over last season. With that conditioning has come the promise of more playing time as the Hawks look to possibly use a larger lineup at times with Collins or Pachulia at Center and Al Horford at Power Forward. 

As soon as the Hawks announced the hiring of Nick Van Exel as player development instructor it was seen as a move that was made with Jeff Teague in mind. Shortly after camp opened, Beat Writer Michael Cunningham had a story up highlighting Van Exel's work with Teague. In particular the need for Teague to play with a chip on his shoulder. 

Van Exel on Jeff Teague:

"He has all the tools," Van Exel said. "It’s just a matter of him bringing an aggressive style and approach to the game every night. Skill-wise, I think he is up there with the best of them. He can shoot it. He can get in the lane anytime he wants. He can break the defense down. He has all the skills.

The Hawks scrimmaged on Thursday for the first time and the new motion offense was on full display. While the players admit that they don't have the offense down yet, they are improving daily and expect to have it all installed before the regular season. 

Once again conditioning is the underlying tone even when talking about the offense. MC talks again about the "tremendous shape" that Hawks players will have to be in to run this offense with the constant movement. He also highlights just how tough those first few practices have been as the team has done a lot of running as Coach Drew tries to put his stamp on this training camp. 

This offseason, the Hawks stockpiled some big bodies in Center Etan Thomas and Power Forward Josh Powell. While it remains to be seen where they will be slotted on the depth chart, they have both brought a physical presence to practice. Coach Larry Drew had this to say about Powell and Thomas:

"They have certainly brought some physicality to our practices, which I embrace," L.D. said. "Both guys play that style. Coming here and being who they are, it makes our practices that much more competitive."

You combine that physicality with a tough practice and it is no surprise that things have gotten a little bit heated at times.

With word coming that the NBA will be awarding more technical fouls to players that protest calls as well as doubling the fines for technical fouls, Coach Drew has started cracking down on his players for protesting calls. He recently stopped practice and admonished the players for complaining about calls during a scrimmage that was being called by local officials. 

"Let the officials make the calls and play," he told them. "That’s a big part of our growth. We are always complaining to officials about calls. We have got to get that [stuff] out of our system. That starts here in practice."

"To me nothing positive comes out of that," he said. "[Officials] are not going to change the call, so just leave them alone and just play basketball. It’s a very emotional game, and I understand that. ... [But] we don’t want to get into being a team that complains a lot and always disputing calls and that type thing."

Kudos to Coach Drew for attempting to put a stop to this before it gets started. 

Finally with two a days being so intense, some nagging injuries have started to pile up. Luckily nothing has been too serious to this point. The Injury report now includes Josh Powell (groin), Al Horford (ankle), Pape Sy (back), Mo Evans (knee), and Jamal Crawford (back). 

The Hawks will continue practice this week with the first preseason game of the year scheduled on Thursday against the Memphis Grizzlies at Phillips Arena. The Hawks will also be holding their annual open scrimmage on October 10th at 1:30pm.