The Atlanta Hawks have been in free fall for the last couple of weeks. They have lost players through injury but with their depth, they should be able to cover this. They have been comprehensively outplayed in some games and lost leads in the fourth in others.
This has the hallmarks of a team who is lacking a strong leader and that role, especially on the bench, belongs to head coach Lloyd Pierce. He has the potential to lose his job should the Hawks’ fortunes not turn around soon.
The signs in Atlanta have not been great for a while. The fact that a difference of opinion between John Collins and Trae Young during a film session got out speaks volumes. Players have differences of opinion all the time, it is the nature of being the best at what you do but it is the role of the coach to not let that get out.
The Lloyd Pierce situation could be tricky for the Atlanta Hawks
Pierce has not enjoyed a successful time as head coach of the Hawks, he needs to take some of the responsibility for his 61-117 record over two and a half seasons. This is good for a 34 percent win record which can be explained by rebuilding and injury but there are more factors at play here.
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Pierce is a really strong figure in the community as shown by the fact he was so strong with his leadership on social issues. He joined a committee of NBA coaches who made it their goal to bring an action plan for all 30 NBA cities to help stop police brutality and systemic racism. He was also very vocal when it came to voting in the last presidential election.
However, if it comes down to on-court matter only then there is a good chance that Pierce will be battling to keep his job. A recent article by Chris Kirschner of The Athletic was headlined by the fact that Trae Young said that there was no accountability.
This is a problem, as it appears from comments like that Pierce has lost the locker room. He also does not appear to call plays to keep his stars involved. There was the game against the New York Knicks that John Collins did not take a shot for the final 22 minutes of the game.
When one of the stars of the team does not get a play called for him for almost a full half of basketball, there is an issue, especially when he was 8-of-13 on the night. While Young is the offensive star for this team, as the coach you still have to feed the hot hand.
The Hawks have a number of assistants who can step up. Nate McMillan, who handled the team when Pierce was at the birth of his second child, was head coach of the Indiana Pacers last season. If the Atlanta Hawks don’t turn it around, there is a good chance there will be a new bench boss sooner rather than later.