The Atlanta Hawks’ followed up a preseason loss to the New Orleans Pelicans with an open practice Tuesday night, welcoming fans into State Farm Arena for a night of complementary fun. Lloyd Pierce narrated a few drills to the crowd, and the festivities ended with the annual rookie talent show.
Of the drills Pierce narrated, the emphasis was on 3-pointers and dunks. Regardless of the drill’s focus, Pierce wanted the Hawks to prioritize good looks and good habits. For Atlanta’s main shooting drill, the requirement is to end with 18 consecutive made baskets as a team — layups, mid-rangers, and 3s all included. The Hawks managed to hit 16 before moving on.
In a series of rotating 5-man groups, the Hawks practiced halfcourt sets against the coaching staff. Buckets made were points to the players, buckets missed were points to the coaches. The final tally was 46-38 in favor of the defense, and Pierce quipped that the coaches always win.
The Hawks also ran through drills on transition offense and transition defense. Pace is a major key for Atlanta this season, so it’s important for the team to get comfortable pushing the tempo in transition. It’s equally as important to get back on the other end, as the Hawks’ defense showed weaknesses against New Orleans on Monday.
After the drills were complete, the rookie talent show began. First, Marcus Derrickson, Jordan Sibert, and Brandon Goodwin challenged three fans in a Mario Kart-themed tricycle race. After some trickery and a very clear mistake on the fans’ part, Goodwin brought it home in the final lap.
Then came the songs. And the dances. Charlie Brown Jr. paid homage to his hometown with a Fresh Prince of Bel Air rendition. Tahjere McCall broke down to Chris Brown. Bruno Fernando sang his heart out to Billie Jean in a shark costume. Cam Reddish stumbled through Soulja Boy. And then, in a grand finale, De’Andre Hunter, who had bought a SpongeBob onesie at Target earlier in the day, brought the house down with a spirited performance of Teach Me How to Dougie.
When asked what his favorite title was — national champion at Virginia or rookie talent show winner — Hunter jokingly paused before answering, “I’d have to say Virginia.”
Now, with a preseason game and a lip sync competition under their belts, the Hawks will move on to Orlando Wednesday night. “Just having fun, playing free,” Hunter said of the progress he hopes to make in his second NBA game. “There are going to be ups and downs. Who knows, I might not play well tomorrow; I might play better than I did.”
When asked about his goals for preseason game number two, Cam Reddish kept his answer short. “Just get better. Dunk on Mo (Bamba). That’s about it.”
The Hawks host the Magic at 7:30 PM E.T. Wednesday night. Get ready for more rookie hype, Trae Young highlights, and analysis of Markelle Fultz’s jump shot.