Hawks practice report: ‘Gifted and talented’ defensively, ‘learning curve’ on offense

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer likes Ersan Ilyasova’s defensive grit. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said the Hawks will use the same starting five he’s used much of the preseason at Dallas to open the season: Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Ersan Ilyasova and Dewayne Dedmon. Budenholzer thinks that can be a good group on defense.

“I usually start with individually, they are pretty gifted and talented,” Budenholzer said. “Dewayne as a center, a guy that can cover ground, be good in pick-and-rolls and block shots and rebound. Ersan, I think the things he does kind of goes under the radar: the charges, kind of the nitty-gritty plays. He has a strength and a toughness at the power forward.

“And then Taurean and Baze and Dennis — I think individually each of them are pretty good. Collectively, when they are active and kind of on the same page — which, getting Dewayne with those other four guys that at least finished the season with us last year — I think they just have a chance to be good defensively.”

I agree that the starting five will be good defensively. I think they’ll have trouble scoring (maybe even more so than the second unit). There’s just not a lot of consistent play-making or shooting and, really, the two best shooters are on the bench (see chart).

But I could be wrong. If it turns out I am wrong, I’ll say so.

(Edited to add: The shooting numbers for Hawks players are projected by the Simple Rating System at Basketball-Reference.)

Anyway, Budenholzer said earlier in the preseason that Hawks players first would have to learn the principles of the new offense before they can play “randomly” within it. How is that process going?

“It depends on the day and the possession, probably,” Budenholzer said. “I think it’s all to be expected. I think there is probably going to be some of that learning curve for a while. I think when you play with an offense with a lot of movement, a lot of reads and reactions, it’s going to kind of ebb and flow a little bit. I think it’s part of what makes it good and effective. But there’s definitely a learning curve where we probably will want it to be better.”

Notes

Budenholzer said new point guard Isaiah Taylor will join the Hawks in Dallas tomorrow. …

Josh Magette is traveling with the team. As a two-way player he’s limited to 45 days on the NBA roster (with an NBA salary) but that clock doesn’t start ticking until G-League training camps begin on Tuesday. …

The Hawks said today was their last session on the Philips Arena practice court. The new facility in Brookhaven awaits them when they return from five-game trip to open the season.

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