The Atlanta Hawks had the second best offense in the NBA last season. You wouldn’t know it by watching them — and certainly not by watching them in the playoffs — because certain Hawks have a tendency to do absolutely maddening things with the basketball, but they did. And that offense, potent in the regular season but solvable in the postseason, has the potential to become omnipotent under Larry Drew. A few injuries have made Drew’s task of revamping the already vamped offense more difficult than it should have been, but Atlanta is showing real offensive progress nonetheless.
Sebastian Pruiti broke down Atlanta’s O for NBA Playbook, and several of the clips he showcased are very promising. In Pruiti’s first analyzed clip, the Hawks run a heavy-motion set straight out the flex playbook, and while Drew won’t be running the flex full-time a la Jerry Sloan, this is still the type of play-calling innovation (innovation by Hawks’ standards, anyway) that can make even better use of Atlanta’s talent. They may have had the second best regular season offense in the league last year, but isn’t it startling to think that they may only be scratching the surface of their offensive potential?
So much of Atlanta’s offense will again go through Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, and the team’s success in their new offense will depend largely on both of those players’ tendency to break plays. Isolation possessions will inevitably rear their head, but “give the ball to Joe and watch” is no longer an acceptable offensive sequence. It’s early yet, but this could be a new day for the Hawks.