Hawks not expecting one player to replace Johnson
ATLANTA — Larry Drew smiled Wednesday as he talked about the fun he has had with his coaching staff drawing up different lineup combinations for the Atlanta Hawks.
Drew’s long list of newcomers includes Anthony Morrow, Lou Williams, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson and rookie John Jenkins.
That makes for a lot of combinations.
All Drew knows for sure is it will take a combination of those players to replace Joe Johnson, a six-time All-Star.
The Hawks traded Johnson, who averaged more than 20 points in five of his seven seasons in Atlanta, to the Brooklyn Nets in July for five players and a draft pick.
When healthy, Johnson was a lock as the starting shooting guard. Now Drew has to figure out who will join three returning starters – center Al Horford, forward Josh Smith and point guard Jeff Teague – in the new-look lineup.
“Every morning before we come out on the floor, my staff and I meet and we talk about the different combinations,” Drew said. “That was one thing we wanted to do in training camp, throw out a lot of different combinations to get a good feel for some of these guys and how they play with others.”
First-year general manager Danny Ferry also traded small forward Marvin Williams to the Jazz for Harris.
The Hawks could be much smaller – and quicker – if Drew replaces Johnson and Marvin Williams with a three-guard lineup. Harris is 6-foot-3, Teague is 6-2 and Williams is 6-1. Teague’s size wasn’t an issue when he was paired with Johnson, who is 6-7.
Williams said speed can make up for lack of height.
“It’s a speed league anyway,” Williams said. “It’s all about quickness and obviously we have a lot of guys that can fly around.
“It’s going to be fun to see how everything works out and how we put this team together. I don’t think teams are going to have a break when they play us, because we have three guards capable of playing that position.”
Drew said the main problem now is getting the newcomers trained in his system.
“The guys who have been here, they know what they’re supposed to do out there,” Drew said. “We’ve still got guys who are a little bit lost. When you mix in the guys who know what they’re doing with the guys who are a little lost, it can get a little bit scattered at times.
“I’m really just trying to make sure what we put in and the combinations we try really do make sense so they can see the big picture.”