Meet the Newest Member of the Hawks Coaching Staff
Many will look at Lester Conner's career averages as an NBA player and feel a little bit underwhelmed. 6.3 points per game and 3.9 assists per game aren't Hall of Fame numbers, but it was on the defensive end of the court that Conner was most impressive, and that is why he could be a perfect fit for this version of the Atlanta Hawks.
"He was a guy that didn't necessarily need to score the basketball to impact a game," said current Hawks Head Coach Larry Drew.
Considering the Hawks already have a group of guards that are proven scorers in the league (Johnson, Jamal Crawford and Bibby) a coach that could be described as a "defensive guru" that has experience wreaking havoc on the perimeter with ball pressure should help an area that has been perceived as a weakness in the past. Jeff Teague could benefit the most by Conner's influence, as his quickness and strength give him the potential to be a very disruptive presence on defense.
A Closer Look:
Amateur Career: Conner grew up in Oakland, winning a California state championship his senior year at Fremont High School. After two years in junior college he was offered a scholarship to Oregon State University. While playing two seasons for OSU he helped the Beavers to a combined 52-6 record while playing for legendary coach Ralph Miller. His team was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 for a majority of the the 1981-82 season while Conner fit perfectly in their defensive strategy of full court pressure. As a senior Lester was named Pac-10 Player of the Year and AP All-American.
Professional Career: Conner was drafted in the first round
Coaching Career: Lester Conner broke into the coaching ranks in 1998-99 as an assistant for Rick Pitino with the Boston Celtics after serving as a scout for a year with the Miami Heat. Since then Conner has spent 10 seasons as an NBA assistant, most recently with Indiana under Jim O'Brien.
Other Facts: Lester enjoys playing poker and ping pong, which should help him fit right in with the current team. He once told LegendsOfBasketball.com: "If I wasn't a basketball player, I would have been a sports agent. These athletes need more guidance, and I've always felt there is much more to it than contracts and endorsement deals."
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