“When he got the plantar fasciitis, he really did a lot of things to get himself ready to play,” Lucas said. “He was coming off of (near) five 20-rebound nights (in late November), so he was playing really well. Clint was emerging as someone who I thought was positioning himself to be an All-Star in our league. His game has grown so much. His game is so versatile. He can run the floor. He’s the exact prototype of what you should be looking for in a center.
“He did so much for us defensively with his shot-blocking and his ability to run the floor in transition. Clint had begun to finish everything around the rim this year. He has a great left-handed jump hook. He’s really good faced-up. His free throws have been a work in progress. He’s about 63 or 64 percent, so he’s getting better there. The better and more versatile he is, the better Clint is. Now he’s getting to play with Trae Young and John Collins. I think he’s a perfect fit for them. He’s got spacing around him and they’re a young team for him to grow with. I think that’ll be less pressure for Clint because, in a sense, he becomes the veteran on that team.”
“He’s been moving well for a couple of weeks now,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He was fine. You see some of the subtle things that you don’t have to worry about. He had a great box out today. Defensive rebounding has been a big issue for us. He just knows how to do it. He knows how to hold off a guy with one arm and get (the ball) with the other. Just really simple things that you can’t teach. You want your guards and wings to go in and rebound, but you also want your one-on-one bigs to take out the other big and secure the possession and rebound. He showed a couple of those possessions where you instantly look down there, and you’re like, ‘We’ll be all right there.’ Trying to put him in different spots is going to be interesting over the next couple of days. He’s a pick-and-roll big, and we’re not doing any pick-and-roll the first two days, so you try to see what else you could do with Clint. The thing I know about Clint is when you start moving, he’s good. When you start running, he’s good. We’ll see a lot more of that as the week goes on.”
“We have to figure out what he and Trae look like. We have to figure out what he and John look like. We have to figure out what he and Cam look like,” Pierce said. “We have to figure out where else we can use him. The same thing defensively. We think part of the reason why he’s here is (Houston) decided to go in a different direction and a different style of play. We have to figure out what we’re doing on the defensive end and what his strengths are. He’s a great defensive rebounder. He’s done a pretty good job with rim protection. We’re not going to switch as much as Houston did, so in those moments we’re not, we have to figure out what coverages work best for him and what we’re trying to do are some of the things he likes to do. One of the things I’ll say is he’s done a tremendous job talking about defense. We had an individual session a couple of weeks back and after 40 minutes, we had gone over a couple of different scenarios on the defensive end. One thing that he can do is talk and honor the talk. I think that’s the absolute truth. It isn’t schemes. You can have the greatest schemes in the world, and you take them to a different team, and those schemes don’t work. It’s not the schemes, it’s the commitment and ability to work as a unit. I love the fact that he’s empowering his voice more so than the coverage. That will be tremendous for us moving forward.
“You guys think I’m a **** defensive coach. I’m doing the same thing (now). It’s about defense. Nothing has changed. You have to adapt to your team. You have to adapt to your personnel, and you have to figure out how to get these guys to adapt to each other. It takes time. Even with Clint, he still has to get used to who he’s talking to and how they respond back to him. This is the beauty of these two weeks. They’re going to get to talk to each other. We’ll come back and have a little bit of a head start of the next camp.”