This is the perfect coach for the era that is about to start this season in Atlanta. Lloyd Pierce is starting at the bottom. He has worked for a franchise that was looking up at seeming every NBA team with seemingly no direction or hope. You see he was on Brett Brown’s staff with the Philadelphia 76ers for the last five years.
Remember his process?
Lloyd Pierce’s process is player development and hard work, something that this Hawks franchise is in desperate need of going into the season with such a young squad in the post-Mike Budenholzer era.
Based on what he said in the team’s official release, he is excited and ready to get to work on his greatest professional challenge…
“This is a day I’ve been working towards for a long time and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,”...”I have great respect for Travis and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”
Well the one thing that the fans of Atlanta will not have to question is his patience and experience. Anyone who spent time on the 76ers bench with Brett Brown during what is now famously (or infamously if you connect Sam Hinkie to it) as “The Process”.
It is easy to link the bandwagon to the 76ers today, but realize that Pierce’s JOB was to link his bandwagon and develop the Joel Embiid’s and Ben Simmons of the world when things were considered dysfunctional. It couldn’t have been easy with both players who the franchise is attaching their future to is out for lengthy (to put it mildly) periods of time with injury.
Another good quality that Lloyd Pierce brings to the table is being around great NBA people who instilled the qualities needed to drive this franchise forward…
In college at Santa Clara, he played on the same squad as the soon to be Hall of Famer, Steve Nash. With Nash being one of the all-time great point guards in history, you would think that Trae Young would be wise to listen to the old college war stories that Pierce has talking about his time playing with him.
After Lloyd’s short playing career was over, Pierce served as the coordinator for player development for the Cleveland Cavaliers under Head Coach, Mike Brown. I think we all remember who the franchise player was at that time. Yep, you guessed it. That would be LeBron James. A 2007 NBA Finals appearance shows that he has the experience of winning and what it takes to get there. With the Atlanta Hawks not getting that far in the playoffs, not even in the Dominique Wilkins or the highly successful Budenholzer era, it is up to Pierce and General Manager Travis Schlenk to provide the blueprint to getting the Hawks to that mindset.
The essence of what Pierce brings to the Hawks in my opinion came from working in Memphis under Lionel Hollins in the “Grit n Grind--Grindhouse” glory days. Were they pretty to watch? No. But teams had their games circled on their calendar to remind themselves to bring their lunch pails because they were in for a long night.
Here’s what he had to say about his old boss in Memphis courtesy of Peachtree Hoops…
“I spent two years in Memphis with Lionel Hollins, a guy that’s been around the NBA for a long time both as a player and a coach. One of the toughest coaches I’ve been around,” said Pierce of Hollins. “They were a top 2 defensive team in the two years I was there. And it’s his DNA, it’s his mentality, it’s his approach and it’s definitely what we’ll have here in Atlanta. Because my DNA is the same.”
The young players are going to need a no-nonsense accountability program going forward. Pierce has already stated that this team’s identity will start on the defensive end.
Finally Hawks Hoopers, if you are not convinced check out what the final step in his training made him qualified to be the Hawks new head coach as told to Michael Cunningham of the AJC…
“[Sixers coach Brett Brown] empowered me to run our defense. I’m not taking credit from selfish standpoint. He presented the opportunity to me, I think three years ago and said I want to make you the single voice. I am going to rely on you to make the decisions, the executive decisions of what we do in-game and how we prepare.”
Now understand that Brett Brown is from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree. The influence here is coming from the San Antonio Spurs franchise, one of the most structured trained mentorship franchises in all of sports. For Brown to empower Pierce to run his defense, which finished in the top five in the NBA by the way, makes him the real deal. But pay attention to tha last part of the quote to Cunningham…
"It was more of his empowerment than me leading. But he gave me full autonomy on what we were going to do on the defensive end whether it’s the drills, the game plan -- I game planned for 82 games -- the concepts and kind of creating that defensive culture. It’s been a huge responsibility. I don’t know how many assistant coaches in the league have had that responsibility to cover the entire defense and all 82 game preps. That was the role.”
Let’s be clear here, the Hawks are not going to rank third in the NBA in defensive rating. Nor will they rank third in opponents points in the paint. I’m sure Hawks opponents will shoot better than 43% from the field than they did with the Sixers last year but…
THESE GUYS WILL COMPETE DEFENSIVELY!
On behalf of HawksHoop I would like to welcome Lloyd Pierce, his wife and little Pierce to Atlanta.