Larry Drew earned this shot. Make no mistake, he has spent longer on the bench as an assistant than he did in the league as a player. He paid his dues, he no-doubt knows the game.
The surprise of him being named the Atlanta Hawks new head coach was that he had spent the last six years as the lead assistant to Mike Woodson. They guy they let walk because they needed a new voice and direction. Hiring the top assistant rarely means a big shake up.
But Drew has had a front-row seat for the last two good regular seasons and playoff failures, He knows what needs to happen, and said all the right things in an interview with Lang Whitaker of SLAM.
Including the novel concept of ball movement, not isolation basketball. (Hawks fans, I know this is a confusing concept, but if you watch the finals you can see what we’re talking about.)
Offensively, a lot of people are seeing the same thing. When you have five guys out there playing together, five guys out there moving the basketball, and five guy out there who are a threat, you become a much more potent team, and that’s something that I’m definitely planning on implementing, so we can have all guys out on the floor being a threat. Not all five guys necessarily being scorers, but all five guys being a threat. We have the capability of obviously Joe having a big night, or Josh Smith or Al having a big night, even the capability of Marvin having a big night. And Jamal coming off the bench is obviously a guy who can score in bunches. We just want to add a few things, subtract a few things just to make us a better ball club.
Knowing what to do is the first step. Being able to execute may mean a new point guard in Atlanta.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.