Saturday July 20th, 2019 3:38AM

New coach Lloyd Pierce set to begin 1st year with Hawks

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Lloyd Pierce is hardly expecting a smooth ride in his first season as a head coach.

His Atlanta Hawks have begun a major rebuilding job. They have no star player, their point guard is a 20-year-old rookie, and their roster depth is suspect.

"Our margin of error to start when you have a new team, a new staff, is very slim," Pierce said. "So we need to try to get on the same page as early and often as we can."

After going 24-58 to finish with the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season, general manager Travis Schlenk parted ways with coach Mike Budenholzer and hired Pierce, an assistant the last four years with Philadelphia.

Atlanta's focus quickly centered on remaking the roster with youth. The Hawks traded down two spots in the draft to get point guard Trae Young at No. 5 overall, and they added a first-round pick next year from Dallas. They took shooting guard Kevin Huerter in the 19th spot and power forward Omari Spellman 30th.

Young will start and get as much playing time as he needs. Pierce said Huerter, behind starter Kent Bazemore, and Spellman, behind John Collins, must earn playing time in practice.

Atlanta has so much youth that shooting guard Taurean Prince, their returning leading scorer, has been thrust into a leadership role entering his third season. Budenholzer put a good bit of scoring responsibility last season on Prince, and he responded with five 30-point games.

"It brought a lot more confidence to myself," Prince said. "I basically figured out what my abilities are as a player against my peers."

Collins should improve his scoring average after improving his jump shot during the offseason. He's accurate inside, ranking second among rookies last season in field-goal percentage, and finished second in blocks per game and third in rebounding.

Some other things to know about the Hawks:


Pierce, who designed and oversaw Philadelphia's defense, has put the team's biggest emphasis on how Atlanta performs when it doesn't have the ball. The goal is get rebounds, run the floor and score early.

"You have to match who you want to switch with, because that's where the league is going, and who you don't want to switch with," Pierce said. "We have a guy like Trae and we have a guy like (reserve center) Miles Plumlee. We don't want to switch with those two guys. We don't want Plumlee out on the perimeter that much and we definitely don't want Trae at the rim, so I'm going to have to tweak a lot of what I've done in the past to fit who I have here now."


DeAndre' Bembry, entering his third season on the team, will get the bulk of the minutes behind Young. Pierce likes how well he can dribble into the paint without needing a screen. Otherwise, the depth is nothing special.

Oft-injured center Dewayne Dedmond and shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, a second-round pick last year, are back for a second season. Vince Carter, 40, was signed to mentor the youngsters. Jeremy Lin and Justin Anderson are trying to beat out other at point guard. Shooting guard R.J. Hunter and forward Thomas Robinson are trying to make the roster.


Collins likes the change to a fast-break offense. With Young replacing Dennis Schroder, Collins is likely to have more chances to score in the half court instead of mostly just cleaning up at the rim.

"It's very new coming from coach Bud last year," Collins said. Pierce is "very high-paced, very fast-paced. He wants to get the ball moving. He's all about the good-to-great passes, he calls it. Making the extra pass and trying to find those open guys."


Pierce wants everyone, including longtime reserve center and new Atlanta starter Alex Len, shooting 3s. Young can't wait to fire away.

"Yeah, for sure," Young said. "He wants to get off a lot of shots, definitely a lot of 3s, so that's definitely exciting. We've got to do it in the right manner and try to do it the right ways."

That doesn't mean Young isn't going to dribble into the paint and dish off.

"Whenever you're aggressive towards the rim, a lot of people suck in to towards the paint and then you're able to get open shots around the perimeter," Young said. "When you're attacking and getting to the free throw line, it forces the defense to be more aggressive, so you get more open 3s."


Lin missed all but one game last season in Brooklyn because of knee injury. The Hawks are his seventh team in nine seasons.

"I'm very familiar with new starts," Lin said. "I've played on many teams. It doesn't really feel like I've ever had some type of strong consistency through my career, so it's not that weird for me I guess."

© Copyright 2019
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Former GHS standout Thacker hired as new Georgia Tech DC
Former Gainesville High standout Andrew Thacker was named the new defensive coordinator by new new Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins Monday...
9:28PM ( 3 months ago )
Pacers beat Hawks for 5th consecutive victory
Myles Turner scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots in less than 24 minutes Monday, helping to lead the Indiana Pacers past Atlanta 116-108 before breaking his nose midway through the third quarter...
9:17PM ( 3 months ago )
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn with Brandon Reed and Pete McCole (12-31-18)
As we get ready to throw the checkered flag on the holiday season - and on 2018 - the Around The Track crew has worked to bring a little taste of Georgia Racing History...
8:00PM ( 3 months ago )
Jones disappointed to miss playoffs, likes Falcons' future
Every year Julio Jones puts up big numbers while the Atlanta Falcons fall short of a championship. And every year he puts a positive spin on what went wrong and what looks promising heading into next season...
7:05PM ( 3 months ago )
Quinn wants Falcons focused on details entering finale
Coach Dan Quinn isn't dwelling on how desperate the Atlanta Falcons are to avoid a 6-10 record...
7:24PM ( 3 months ago )
Ryan, Falcons hand Panthers 7th straight loss, 24-10
Matt Ryan threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns as the Atlanta Falcons handed the Carolina Panthers their seventh straight loss 24-10 on Sunday...
4:08PM ( 3 months ago )
Professional Sports
Hawks set to draft more youth to group led by Young, Collins
The Atlanta Hawks made a modest improvement in the standings this season, finishing with 29 wins, up from 24 the previous year. John Collins sees a far more dramatic improvement in the Hawks' outlook.
By The Associated Press
3:20PM ( 4 days ago )
Sumner's 3 last-second free throws lift Pacers past Hawks
Edmond Sumner sank three free throws with three-tenths of a second remaining, lifting the playoff-bound Indiana Pacers over the Atlanta Hawks 135-134 Wednesday night.
By The Associated Press
11:15PM ( 5 days ago )
Spurs claim 21st straight home win over Hawks, 117-111
DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points and the San Antonio Spurs defeated Atlanta 117-111 Tuesday night for their 21st straight win at home over the Hawks.
By The Associated Press
11:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Young's buzzer-beating jumper lifts Hawks past Bucks in OT
Trae Young grabbed a deflected inbounds pass and made a last-second jumper to lift the Atlanta Hawks to a 136-135 overtime win over the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday...
By The Associated Press
4:50PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Lillard, Aminu pace Portland's blowout win over Hawks
Damian Lillard scored 36 points, Al-Farouq Aminu added 17 and 11 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 118-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks
11:10PM ( 2 weeks ago )