You Can't Teach Size… or Banging

Friday, September 10, 2010
By Jon Newberry

Larry Drew recently told FoxSportsSouth.com “When I got the job, one of the first things that I spoke to Rick Sund about was bringing in a big guy — a guy that would be a kind of a natural banger.”

“Natural Banger” might be the most accurate way to describe Etan Thomas. Coach Drew saw that first hand when he was an assistant with the Washington Wizards during Thomas’ rookie season. He is hoping the physical style of play will be contagious through the Hawks frontcourt.

Let’s face it, Al Horford hasn’t had to go against a body like Thomas’ in practice since he was drafted. Solomon Jones, Joe Smith and Randolph Morris are all recent teammates that are over 6’10”, but all of them would rather avoid contact than initiate it. Then there is Zaza. Big Z has perfected the art of running into people, but stand him up next to Etan Thomas and tell me which one you would take in an arm wrestling contest. Zaza’s physicality will get under Dwight Howard’s skin, but Thomas’ could wear him down.

This is the latest tweak in the Larry Drew approach to taking the Hawks to the next level. So far we have 1) more movement on offense, 2) more ball pressure on defense, and 3) more “banging” inside. Something tells me that if Drew has his way Hawks opponents will be sore the next morning.

This style also requires a deep bench and great conditioning. I see Chattin Hill, the Hawks Strenght & Conditioning Coordinator, getting plenty of face time with the players during training camp. Word is that the players have been put on notice that they are expected to enter camp ready to hit the ground running.