But Prunty also pointed to moments in the game when he took the chance to get back to teaching. In his postgame availability, he mentioned a moment with Jalen Johnson that involved the 21-year-old forward missing an opportunity to bring the ball up the floor after a rebound.
The team wants Johnson to seize opportunities to push the ball because of his ability get out in front fast. Johnson’s athletic ability gives the Hawks another guy who can attack to the rim and collapse defense. So when he secures rebounds, Prunty said he made sure he knew to take the ball downhill.
“There’s a lot of things he has to learn,” Prunty said. “And so on a night like this, everybody feels good and this and that about how things went, but he, just like me, he still has a long way to go. But like his ballhandling, that’s something that he can do, and he will make mistakes with it, but we’ve got to teach and get better from it.”
While the team’s younger players obviously will benefit from the Hawks’ attempts to focus on player development, the veterans will see the rewards of it as well.
In their film session after Friday’s game, Prunty said they went over all of the little things that resulted in good things that resulted in their win. He highlighted Clint Capela’s chase-down block early in the third quarter.
With 8:43 to play in the quarter, Capela turned over the ball, but never gave up on the play. He chased down Darius Garland and blocked his layup at the rim. As the Hawks ran back the other way, Capela pointed to Trae Young to find De’Andre Hunter in the corner, and the team got a 3-pointer out of the possession.
“That level of unselfishness, that’s something that you can teach to this entire group, not even about basketball,” Prunty said. “That’s a life lesson right there. Like, ‘Yeah, I just did a bunch of things, it’s gonna show up as one block shot.’ But really what it was a microcosm of a million different things. And so that’s just a long-winded story of something that you can teach from.”
The Hawks still have plenty of lessons to learn as they look to make their push over the next 22 regular-season games. They could have another voice in the locker room that will be teaching them after ESPN and the Athletic reported that the team was nearing a deal with Quin Snyder to succeed McMillan.
The team faces a new-look Nets team and is ready to see how they can apply the things they’ve already learned over the season to Sunday afternoon’s game.
“They got a lot of guys that can create shots,” Johnson said. “You know, protecting them out of of their corners, making sure we contain the shots drives and all that. But nothing much more than what we did yesterday. Just come out ready to play, come out play hard all 48.”