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Hawks Leadership Speaks at Media Day

Trae Young and Dejounte Murry
(Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

After a longer off-season than the Atlanta Hawks would have liked, the team is eager to start training camp for the 2023-2024 season. The enthusiasm began on Oct. 2 at media day when players, Head Coach Quin Snyder, and General Manager Landry Fields addressed the media. Excitement filled the air as players laughed and joked in the loose and joyful environment.

“The day before training camp begins, there’s a crescendo of enthusiasm,” Synder said during his opening statement. 

“I’m ready to get going. We’ve put in a lot of work this offseason, so it’s going to show,” added superstar Trae Young.

Comments like these from team leaders have Hawks fans excited to see the squad take the next step toward contention in 2023-2024. Media day highlights below reveal the important themes from Fields and Snyders’ opening statements and additional media questioning.


General Manager Landry Fields

Fields stressed the importance of a shared vision and the significance of being an Atlanta Hawk in his opening statement.

“We brought in Quin Snyder, who’s been unbelievable for us, and implemented a new system,” stated the general manager. Fields emphasized the efforts to develop players both on and off the court to become “the best versions of themselves.”

“I think the fan base should expect… a group that’s going to go out there and absolutely give everything they have for one another,” Fields said regarding the expectations of this year’s squad.

The general manager emphasized sharing and moving the ball as key aspects of the Hawks’ offense under Snyder. I asked Fields how Young and Dejounte Murray’s confidence in each other could help him build a championship-contending team.

“The more connected they are, the better it is for everyone… So far, it’s been fun to see, been a good progression for them both, and it gives us some confidence moving forward,” he replied.

Fields talked about the value veteran shooters Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews provide.

“They space the floor, and in this system, shooting comes at a premium,” in addition to the leadership they will provide.

Fields and Snyder mentioned how crucial it is to have correct and ample spacing, allowing Young and Murray to lead Atlanta’s potent offense. Last season, Hawks fans were excited when Onyeka Okongwu made his first NBA three-pointer. Fields specifically mentioned he has worked on spacing a lot this summer, but he did not confirm if Okongwu will start or come off the bench.

 “Starter, not starter? I leave that to Quin, but Onyeka has been great,” he confidently replied to the reporter.

When Okongwu addressed the media, he said Snyder told him, “If you’re open, shoot it… I feel good about my shot heading into the season,” he continued.

John Collins spent the first six years of his career in Atlanta.

“John was a huge part of what we’ve done, especially on the defensive end last season,” Fields told the media.

The general manager listed Jalen Johnson, Saddiq Bey, and De’Andre Hunter as candidates who could help cover that void in both forward positions.

“The progression of Jalen, especially last season, gave us a lot of hope this year… whether he’s starting or not,” Fields continued.

Okongwu and Bey are free agents after this upcoming season.

“They’re a big part of what we are doing, and we’re trying to get something done with them. Love what they’ve done so far with our group,” said Fields regarding contract extension discussions.


Head Coach Quin Snyder

Snyder provided the media with further detail on his system to conquer the 2023-2024 season. He discussed the value of last year’s 21 regular season games from an evaluation and analytical standpoint but added he only started implementing his new system during the off-season. One of the most important aspects of his plan is spacing on the offensive end.

“Spacing allows you to move the ball… it allows you to attack… If you’re spaced properly, sometimes that can be as simple as you’re not in someone’s way,” Snyder said. Fields and Snyder both emphasized the importance of giving the star backcourt room to operate.

Snyder elaborated and said, “There is a reset in my mind” to lineups that worked and did not work last off-season. Last year, the Hawks finished with a bottom-10 defensive rating of 115.4.

“It doesn’t matter what scheme we have… what the game plan is- defense has to be a decision… At that point is when you can start to get better,” Snyder expressed. This season, Atlanta is banking on players taking a step forward defensively, especially on the perimeter.

A.J. Griffin and Johnson are breakout-season candidates.

“The work those guys did this offseason, you want that to translate… They’re guys you look forward to coaching,” Snyder said. He also talked in detail about the importance of knowing a team’s strengths and where it can improve.

“We are really good playing pick-and-roll with our fives. Trae is gifted in that area,” he continued.

However, he made sure to emphasize scoring in multiple ways, such as using Young off the ball and utilizing Hunter’s strong mid-range ability. Snyder enthusiastically spoke about Murray and Youngs’ leadership as an ongoing process throughout the season.

“When you build something that’s good, that’s not easy… If you are connected, you can get through challenges… and… put the group before yourself,” he emphasized.

Atlanta’s star backcourt will need to display these qualities throughout the season if the Hawks can make a deep playoff run.


Media Day Perspective

It will be interesting to look back on some of these comments throughout the season, especially regarding offense. Under Nate McMillan, the team was focused on pick-and-roll and gravitated toward mid-range shots. Snyder’s new system involves more three-point shooting and a faster pace. Atlanta’s elite offense could get even stronger this year. The young talent on this roster is clear, and with Snyder’s leadership, fans should expect results that will eclipse last year’s mediocre season.

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