ATHENS–The era of “greater pace, greater space” for the Hawks began during the first practice of training camp today. The session went three-plus hours and the portion open to media featured a lot of transition work. That included possessions with a quick off-ball perimeter screen as soon as the ball crossed midcourt, and also some with quick screens for the ball-handler followed by hard drives to the basket.
Coach Mike Budenholzer said the Hawks will “practice harder” this season.
“Part of it is we are a little bit younger but (also) to build up our conditioning, to build up our habits the way we want to play,” he said. “We mentioned yesterday playing with even greater pace. I don’t think that is going to come just by talking about it. We are going to have to practice it, drive the ball, playing with the pass, all those things.
“We are just going to have to practice harder. I think it is going to lead to us executing, competing. And that’s what it is going to take for us this year.”
As I mentioned yesterday, the Hawks ranked 10th in pace last season but the data suggest that the ball moved slower within those possessions than it did in previous seasons under Budenholzer. The 2017-18 Hawks could see those possession numbers increase even more.
All that movement, plus the legit shooters and younger players on the roster, theoretically should create more room for offense.
“We definitely we want to play with more space,” Budenholzer said. “I think with the guys we have there is going to be more pace on the court for guys to drive and attack. We have always wanted to play fast. I think last year we were 10th in possessions per game. We’ve always been a team that emphasizes (pace), but can we take it to that next level and maybe push the pace even more?”
- For what it’s worth, here was how the Hawks were grouped during the portion of practice open to media.
Ones: Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Ersan Ilyasova, Dewayne Dedmon.
Twos: Malcom Delaney, Marco Belinelli, DeAndre Bembry, John Collins, Mike Muscala
Threes: Quinn Cook, Tyler Dorsey, Niolas Brussino, Luke Babbitt, Miles Plumlee
- “We will mix and match,” Budenholzer said of the lineups. “We will see how training camp goes, how the preseason goes. I wouldn’t read too much into it as far as groupings today.”
- Budenholzer on the first practice: “They were great. The energy and the work, they set the tone. I thought Dennis was really good, and ‘Baze.’ I think their leadership and their understanding and ability to talk with teammates (was) really helpful. I thought it was a very good first practice.”
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