Larry Drew wants Hawks running in motion offense
Larry Drew wants the Atlanta Hawks to pick up the pace this
season and run even in their half-court attack.
Drew, the first-year head coach, drove the point home on the
first day of training camp last week. He took the team to the
Georgia Tech track for timed mile runs.
It was clear from the start this would be a different training
camp for the Hawks.
”We had never done that before,” said center Zaza Pachulia,
who is entering his sixth season in Atlanta, after Wednesday’s
practice. ”It was something different that set the tone from the
The conditioning test was no surprise. Drew warned the players
about a month before training camp, and they were ready for the
Every player met Drew’s standard of under 7 minutes.
Joe Johnson had the team’s fastest time at 5 minutes, 30
seconds. Another guard, Jeff Teague, was second at 6 minutes. The
surprise was the 6-foot-11, 275-pound Pachulia finishing third at
The run provided statistical evidence the Hawks can run,
including such big men as Pachulia, Al Horford and Josh Smith.
Drew is installing a motion offense to take advantage of the
”I see a lot of positives coming out thus far of the work we’ve
put in, and I’m starting to see the guys catch on,” Drew said this
Drew, 52, has been an NBA assistant coach for 18 years,
including the last six as former coach Mike Woodson’s top
assistant. He played 11 seasons with the Pistons, Kings, Clippers
This is Drew’s long-awaited chance to direct a team, and it’s
clear his vision for the Hawks includes much running.
It’s not as if the Hawks never ran under Woodson.
Atlanta ranked fourth in the league with 16.2 fast-break points
per game last season, according to STATS, Inc. The problem was the
Hawks sometimes slowed to a crawl in their half-court offense. That
trend was painfully evident when they were swept by Orlando in the
Eastern Conference semifinals.
There was widespread criticism that too many Atlanta players
stood around, waiting for Johnson to create a scoring opportunity
Drew wants his team to be on the move in its half-court attack
as well as on the break. He says the motion attack will create
scoring opportunities for more players while also helping
”I’m starting to see Joe start to find his way to where his
scoring opportunities are,” Drew said. ”And out of this offense,
it allows him to be himself but at the same time it puts other
people to where they can be successful.
”I’m starting to see a trust factor take place among the group
where they know where everyone is and everybody is in a position
where it all best suits them.”
Practice ends each day with a conditioning drill Drew said he
learned with the Lakers. Three players run with one ball up and
down the floor, using three passes one way and five passes on the
way back, with layups on each end.
Up and back. Over and over. There can be no turnovers, no drops,
no missed layups.
”Do it right and we do it once!” Smith reminded his teammates
at the end of Monday’s practice, repeating the mantra from
Drew liked what he heard Smith and what he saw in the drill.
”There you go,” Drew said, referring to Smith’s challenge.
”They already know what type of pace that I’m looking for when
they do it.
”We do a good bit of running within our practice, and that’s
just a nice way to cap it off, just to finish off on a positive
note. That positive note is showing freshness at the end just as
they had freshness at the beginning. It forces them to focus moving
up and down the floor with the basketball.”
The Hawks play Memphis in their preseason opener on Thursday
night. Pachulia said he is eager to for a chance to see the offense
in a game.
”The ball will be swinging from side to side, bodies will be
moving around instead of the isolation offense that we were running
most of the time last year,” Pachulia said. ”It makes it fun.
”Offensively, we know we have very athletic guys. We know we
have players who can run the floor. That’s why most of the guys are
fit and it’s easier for most of the guys to fit into this kind of
Added Pachulia: ”We need to get used to playing this way,
because this is our bread and butter.”
Note: The Hawks have exercised their option on guard Jeff Teague
for the 2011-12 season for about $1.58 million. Teague averaged 3.2
points and 1.7 assists as a rookie last season and is expected to
play a larger role and possibly start at point guard this