Drew stressing defense for up-tempo Hawks
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew knows his players are excited about the team's new up-tempo approach.
To gain his favor, though, the Hawks must commit themselves to defense.
Drew directed the team through its first practice of training camp on Tuesday, and his message was clear.
"The misconception is that you go up-tempo and you stop guarding," he said. "You don't allow the players to (let) that to sink in or even give it a thought."
"We're still going to be a team that's going to guard and defend. It's my job to make sure of that."
Offseason moves by new general manager Danny Ferry reshaped the roster to add speed and quickness.
Ferry brought in Lou Williams, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow and rookie John Jenkins to complement fast players already on the roster such as Jeff Teague, Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Though possibilities are exciting offensively, Drew insists that players must excel on defense if they hope to earn minutes and chances to score.
"Our emphasis still, as it has been the last two years with me as head coach here, is defense," Drew said. "We don't get out and run unless we defend. That's going to be the tone that's set throughout this training camp."
Beginning his eighth season on the Atlanta staff and third as head coach, Drew is eager to see how his five returning players — Smith, Horford, Teague, Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson — blend in with the new group of veterans.
Williams, Harris, Morrow, Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro and Anthony Tolliver have a combined 44 years of experience.
The arrival of newcomers and the departure of longtime starters Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams have given the team a new identity.
"We've gone smaller but quicker and faster," Drew said. "Our club has been built around that."