SB Nation's Mike Prada released his annual rankings of the NBA's coaches and Atlanta's Larry Drew checks in at No. 23. Drew jumps up seven spots from No. 30 in last season's rankings.
23. Larry Drew, Atlanta Hawks (30): I thought Drew was handed a really difficult situation last year: a team needing a coach willing to change the team's style, yet with the same roster and one of the lowest-paid coaches in the league. In that respect, it's understandable that the Hawks sleepwalked a bit through the year, with Drew prodding them to be different and often struggling. I thought Drew regained some points by outcoaching Stan Van Gundy in the Hawks-Magic series and for keeping games competitive against the Bulls in the next round.
I think Prada is fair in his ranking here and that we could see Drew rise in these rankings as long as the Hawks can maintain their current level. No doubt there were bumps in the road last season. Substitution patterns, the handling of Jeff Teague, Horford two foul rule and all things that come to mind but it is too easy to get caught up in all of the negative without noticing the positive.
It would have been really easy for Drew to say all of the right things during the interview process and then maintain the status quo with this Hawks team and try and win 50 games. He didn't go that route changing up both their offensive and defensive principles. However, while Atlanta once again suffered its customary second round exit from the playoffs, they didn't look like a lock to even win a round. It is nice that Prada gives Drew props for the success against the Magic and keeping things competitive in the second round against the Bulls.
It is interesting that Drew is ranked one spot behind Toronto's Dwane Casey who has yet to coach a game for the Raptors yet but was a top assistant on the Mavericks team that won the NBA Championship last season. Interesting because Casey would likely have been the top choice as the Hawks head man last season had Drew not won a strong vote of confidence from Atlanta's ownership group.