Though many people may not have realized, the Atlanta Hawks were one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the NBA last season. The Hawks ranked fourth in the league in attempts per game at 23.2, fifth in made attempts per game at 8.6, and seventh in the league with a team three-point percentage of 37.1 percent.
With former head coach Larry Drew out and new head coach Mike Budenholzer in, the Hawks reliance on the three-ball isn’t going anywhere. In fact, judging by talk throughout the off-season and reports from their open scrimmage on Saturday, they may be even more reliant on their outside shooting in the upcoming season than they were last season.
Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the open scrimmage and said that it was quite apparent that Budenholzer had been working with the team on their movement, in terms of the ball and the players, and had emphasized spacing the floor. The teams was looking for open shots on the wings and, more importantly, in the corners in the flow of the offense quite regularly.
According to Vivlamore, six different players participating in the scrimmage were able to knock down shots from the outside, including four threes from the always sharpshooting Kyle Korver. However, it’s not just guys like Korver that will be getting open looks from three this season. Coming from Korver himself in the report, he said that even newly acquire power forward Paul Millsap and center Al Horford have been encouraged to look for the corner three as opposed to taking mid-range jumpers along the baseline.
Though losing Josh Smith force the Hawks to rebuild and give their team a different look, this actually may be a much better look for them. This team is loaded with young players and guys that can flat-out shoot the rock and giving them the opportunity for open looks is something that Budenholzer obviously picked up from working under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. If the Hawks can work out the kinks and get this new system and style clicking, they could definitely be a surprise team this year in the Eastern Conference.