NBA.com's Shaun Powell has his mid-season report card up and the Atlanta Hawks came out of the first half with a solid B grade. Here is his breakdown for Atlanta:
- Frontcourt - B
- Backcourt - B
- Defense - B+
- Bench - B-
- Coaching - C+
Overall - B
While I don't disagree with the final grade I do take exception to his coaching grade because of the explanation that he gives.
We're still trying to figure out what Larry Drew is doing differently than Mike Woodson. The lineup's the same, so is the rotation, and neither coach was/is a big fan of Teague. Drew at least brings an even temperament.
If you can't figure out what Larry Drew is doing differently this season than what Mike Woodson did last season then you are not watching. First anyone that watched the Hawks last season and then season should be able to see how much more ball movement there is now in Drew's motion system rather than Woodson's iso system. This wasn't like a new coach coming in and saying we are going to play up tempo. This was a case of a coach coming in and actually making a change in philosophy. Nevermind that I haven't even mentioned that Atlanta doesn't exclusively switch screens anymore on defense.
While I agree that the lineup is essentially the same the rotation is not. Jason Collins has already played more minutes this season than he did all of last season. As Michael Cunningham pointed out earlier this week, Atlanta hasn't had its regular starters available but for 19 of its first 45 games. Even if coach Drew didn't want the rotation to change it has been forced to. Under Mike Woodson's guidance the Hawks had a rigid rotation. You knew at what point each quarter that players were going to be subbed in regardless of match-up or situation. Larry Drew has been much more match-up oriented with his rotation.
The only thing Powell gets right is that Jeff Teague hasn't made anymore of an impact for Larry Drew than he did Mike Woodson. Still at the very least, Drew's grade should have been higher because of all of the injuries that he has had to navigate and still has the Hawks in position to win 50 games. Powell goes on to say that the Hawks are built to win 45-50 games and not compete with any of the top four in the East. Time will tell if he is right but as we have talked before, this team is in a much more capable position to be successful in the playoffs simply because it is less predictable.
Of course you might actually have to watch a Hawks game to notice any of that.