Few Atlanta Hawks fans knew what to expect when Larry Drew, a Mike Woodson disciple and former assistant coach, took over the team in the summer of 2010, after Woodson lead a former 13-69 team to a pair of Eastern Conference Semifinals exits. Of course those exits, especially in 2010 to the Orlando Magic, were especially noncompetitive, which probably lead to the Woodson release despite increasing the win total of the Hawks every season he was in Atlanta.
Larry Drew, on the other hand, promised management, according to reports, a different approach to try to break through previous limits of earlier Hawks teams. So far, in his more than two season tenure, he has lead the Hawks to a 99-72 record. Should Larry Drew win in Philadelphia tonight, it would make him the 2nd fastest Hawks coach to 100 wins in history in this his 171st game, behind Lenny Wilkins who did it in 166 games. It would also make him the 8th Hawks coach in history to reach that mark at all.
Drew has put together a remarkable regular season record, considering many sportswriters have not considered the Hawks to be contenders over the last 3 seasons, including many not even viewing them as playoff teams preseason. However, in his first season he lead the home team to a 5th seed in the East and an upset to the Orlando Magic, erasing memories of 2010, as well as a competitive series against the Chicago Bulls in the second round. Last year, despite losing Al Horford for most of the year, secured the 4th best record in the East but the team was doomed against the Boston Celtics with numerous injuries to their big men.
It seems as though Larry Drew is truly coaching for his job in the truest sense. In the past two years, he has been in the last year of his contract, and at any point of the offseason, the Hawks brass could have chosen to go a different direction. However, it is certainly hard to argue against his short resume in his time in Atlanta.
Tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers tips off after 7:30 PM in Well Fargo Arena.