Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce confers with Trae Young against the Milwaukee Bucks in a NBA basketball game on Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Hawks’ Pierce not frustrated with rookie mistakes — and he’s seen a few

I sat down with Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce recently for a half-hour discussion on his philosophy about defense. There was plenty that I could not include in the story that ran at ajc.com on Thursday and in the print edition on Sunday.

There was one story Pierce told me that I wanted to pass on. I asked him if he ever got frustrated teaching young players, something he did plenty of as the defensive coach on the Sixers staff before he joined the Hawks.

“T.J. McConnell asked me his rookie year, he said LP do you ever get (mad) when we (mess) up on defense? I was like, Why, why would I get (mad) at a rookie playing in an NBA game for the first time messing up on defense against Kyrie (Irving)?

“The example I used with him is wait until you play CP (Chris Paul). I guarantee he is going to post you up when he sees you coming into the game and he’s going to get you a foul. He posted him up. T.J. gets right into him and puts his hand out and CP (makes an under move with the ball) and gets a foul. He takes his mouthpiece out, puts his head down and comes to the bench and says ‘You told me.’

“There are certain things you just don’t know (as a young player). I knew it (last season). That’s the whole year. Game 1 we played at New York. Game 20 you are playing at Golden State for the first time and Game 30 you are playing Russell Westbrook for the first time. You are still playing these guys for the first time. I don’t care if it’s your 30th game. It’s not frustrating. The only frustration that really exists is the lack of effort. The mistakes, we are going to make mistakes any way, year one, year 10. That’s the challenge, despite the mistakes, despite the inefficiencies we might have, you can control effort. You can bring effort. I’m OK with mistakes. That’s not an issue. We are all going to make mistakes … but lack of effort is where you get frustrated.”

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