There are several questions facing the Atlanta Hawks as the team prepares to enter training camp next Tuesday. One of those questions will be who will replace Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams in the starting lineup? The Hawks enter camp with a shortage of small forwards but are deep enough in the backcourt to employ a variety of looks. Larry Drew has shown a willingness in the past to juggle his lineup when need be and that could be the case much more this season.
Drew talked with Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Chris Vivlamore on Thursday and said although he has an idea for a starting lineup, he will let the process play itself out in training camp:
"It's an open competition," Drew told the AJC. "I would be lying if I said I didn't have an idea but part of this whole process is looking at different combinations and a lot of our camp is going to be about that. Just to get a real feel for the 10-11 new faces that we have coming in here. I don't want to pigeon hole and say this is who is going to be the starter. I don't want to do that. I want to go out and starting next Tuesday, I want guys to go out and know that they have an opportunity, particularly if they show they are capable of being a starter and if their play speaks in volume, I'm certainly going to have to consider that. With all the new faces, we are going to have to go out and see what we have."
Jeff Teague, Josh Smith and Al Horford are safe bets to return to the starting lineup. That leaves players such as Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson in the mix. That is assuming Drew opts to bring Lou Williams off the bench in the same role he thrived in last season for Philadelphia. Also in the mix for playing time will be rookie John Jenkins. If Drew is satisfied with his depth up front then he could also opt for a big lineup by inserting Zaza Pachulia into the starting lineup and shifting Horford and Smith to the power forward and small forward positions.
Its still early but the preseason games are going to be intriguing to see how Drew opts to play things. There is a good chance that Atlanta's versatility will be one of its key strengths this season.