In San Antonio, it’s known as “corporate knowledge.”
Continuity and stability have been the hallmarks of the Spurs organization that has won four NBA championships – and just missed out on a fifth last season — since 1999.
In Atlanta, it’s a work in progress.
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and coach Mike Budenholzer, who both spent considerable time with the Spurs, are trying to implement the same model here. They want to establish a roster that can function in the same system year after year.
“Continuity and stability, we call it corporate knowledge, over the years that really works to your benefit,” said Gregg Popovich, the long-time Spurs coach and Budenholzer mentor. “It doesn’t mean you are going to win a championship every year, but it means you can maintain a high level and high standards the more abundant that corporate knowledge is.”
The Hawks had a roster of nine new players last season. They will have at least seven new players this season. There is a long way to go.
An established roster will know all the ins and outs of an offensive system. For the Spurs, the preseason is just a warm-up. However, only three weeks into Budenholzer’s first training camp as Hawks coach, the team’s implementation of his offense continues. The Hawks got a chance to see how it’s done in Thursday’s 106-104 exhibition loss to the Spurs.
“It’s just going to take time,” said Kyle Korver, who scored a Hawks preseason-high 26 points. “It was great to play the Spurs. That’s what we are trying to do. All the sets, they knew what we were running, we knew what they were running. But they’ve been doing it for so long, it’s just second nature to them. For us, we are still thinking A to B a lot and not running the play correctly.”
The Hawks (1-3) erased a 15-point third-quarter deficit by playing their starters against the Spurs’ reserves in the final period. Coach and players said they have seen progress.
Budenholzer said he was encouraged with the Hawks’ ball movement against the Spurs. The team had assists on 30 of their 39 baskets. The Spurs still won with Tony Parker (17 points), Tim Duncan (16) and Manu Ginobili (11) each playing only about 20 minutes.
“Our offense still needs some work,” Al Horford said. “It’s nowhere near where it needs to be, but we understand that. We’ve only been running it for two weeks. … Sometimes we get stagnant with the ball, but the ball movement was good and something that’s going to take a little more time.”
Point guard Jeff Teague, the catalyst of the offense, said the new offense is built around an up-tempo pace. Last season coach Larry Drew preached an up-tempo style of play, but this system is different. Teague said the speed is predicated on shooters getting to the outside and the big men running the middle of the floor.
“We are not getting the ball up the court to post the ball,” Teague said. “We are getting up the floor for movement.”
In addition to the preseason-high 30 assists, the Hawks had seven players (all five starters) in double-digit scoring. Teague had 12 assists in 34 minutes. Korver made 5 of 8 3-point attempts.
Floor spacing is the key to the ball movement-oriented offense. Korver said if the floor is spaced properly something will be open — whether it’s a corner 3-pointer, a pick-and-roll, a pick-and-a-shot or a pass to a cutting teammate.
“It’s the emphasis,” Korver said of the pace of play. “… I think we have more secondary break options, so as we are running (down court), we are not just running to the other end. We are running into things. We are running with a purpose and not just going for layups and quick shots.”