The dominating headline early in training camp has been that head coach Larry Drew is changing up the Hawks offensive system and wants his team to play much more up-tempo this season. Personnel changes by general manager Danny Ferry during the offseason have dictated that shift. However, Drew indicates that it won't come at the expense of the team's defense and if players want to get playing time then they are going to have to be committed defensively.
"The misconception is that you go up-tempo and you stop guarding," he said. "You don't allow the players to (let) that to sink in or even give it a thought."
"Our emphasis still, as it has been the last two years with me as head coach here, is defense," Drew said. "We don't get out and run unless we defend. That's going to be the tone that's set throughout this training camp."
Atlanta improved last season to No. 6 in the league in points allowed. They will be a much smaller team this season but they will make up for the loss of that size with speed and quickness. Just as they plan on speeding up their offense they can do the same defensively by applying more pressure and being more aggressive.
Like his offensive system, Drew may have to rethink his defensive strategies against certain teams. Atlanta has often been reluctant to double team in the post but may be forced to do so this season. However, this team should be plenty quick enough to handle the rotations.