Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blog Wars: PH vs. HS8T & Bibby vs. Teague

Well, it looks like we have something to debate over the next few days with our friends at Peachtree Hoops. I sloppily threw out a challenge for why Bibby had to be the starter of this team if he doesn't shoot the ball well and so...PH decided to tell me why. Oops! Check out his thoughts here

First, let me set the scene for this debate a little...I make my position based on 2 things (things that I said in my Start Teague and Evans blog would be necessary for starting Teague). The first is no locker room discord. If it can't be sold amicably, it doesn't work. At least not this year - next year, I really don't care how Bibby takes it. Teague needs to play 25 minutes a game next year no matter what. Since we've never seen how the Hawks handle adversity or big coaching moves, this is the biggest unknown and that unknown is what you have COACHING for - it's what we pay Woodson to manage. Second, is that Mike Bibby continues to shoot poorly.

IF those two things could happen, I 100% wholeheartedly endorse making this move happen. As we often say around here, this is a move made with the goal of CHAMPIONSHIP in mind. Not this season because I don't think the Hawks can win a title this season no matter who is at point guard, but in getting Teague into the crucible NOW, so he can hit the ground running next season and next POSTSEASON. Let's go ahead and say it - Teague isn't playing any non-blowout minutes as a reserve as is. We already know that about Woodson and what's the reason going to be - well, he's not ready and that's going to be because you didn't ever ONE TIME decide to let the boy play just to see what he could do with more than 15 minutes. I don't expect a point guard who is leading the team for the first time to make a significant step forward for the team, so the point here is that every dribble taken this season helps us toward a championship next season. And I'm very convinced that every minute on the court with Mike Bibby as your starting guard has a ceiling that falls well short of a championship.

So, let's address the things that PH used as the litmus test for saying that a Teague move would be a chance not worth taking (Note: I am not deluded in any way that this is going to happen and actually have serious doubts it will happen next year.)

1. Mike Bibby Sets Up the Offense.

Well, let's set aside that I don't believe that to be true (A point guard who doesn't bring up the ball more than 70% of the time is not setting up an offense. There's a huge difference between he's set up a play occasionally vs. our point guard sets up the offense), but I think we've ALL complained about the offense and the fact that we take a quarter each game at doing something other than running a legitimate offense. The #1 play for the Hawks is the isolation play, not to be confused with just passing until someone decides to do something that allows us a shot opportunity. That isn't an offense that depends on a point guard. Our fastbreak is led more often than not by our power forward and center, not by our point guard. There really is nothing valid about a statement that Mike Bibby sets up the offense. Now, there is validity to the fact that Teague is sometimes not spacing well and the starters have to help him with that - well, that happens when you DON'T play with the starters. Which is the point - having him play with the starters would solve that quickly. I can't imagine that spacing is an issue that a point guard would have a problem picking up. What's more important is having your point guard garner the respect of the starters and their ability to allow him to lead them in actually setting up an offense.

This is core reason for my suggestion. To have us actually counting on a point guard to run an offense, to run a fast break, to penetrate and bring a dynamic that we normally don't have. I'd prefer to have my point guard missing floaters in a broken down interior than missing open jump shots and unable to get back or do anything else other than miss jump shots. I agree that this 'offense' isn't set up for a slashing point guard, but that's the point. The point is that this would actually force us to have an offense. There's nothing complicated about what we do now that changing point guards affects in any shape, form, or fashion. Bibby can't do anything better than Teague other than shoot and pass alley oops to Josh Smith. And when his shooting is down...advantage Teague!

2. Change of Pace.

Well, since we aren't running when Teague comes into the game now, I'm not sure what the point is. I could agree with Peachtree Hoops if the bench came in and ran, but that doesn't happen. Teague doesn't play enough now to make the argument about changing pace. It's not what he does, it's what he could do - he basically brings up the ball and passes to Jamal and we run the offense. I don't know why Bibby can't do that with Jamal. You may bring up the defense and that would be a good point IF they weren't playing them that way NOW. Bibby and Jamal play together in the 4th quarter a lot. Teague isn't being used as a defensive counterbalance (though frankly when we are getting beaten by perimeter offense in the 4th quarter - it's something to consider since our best defensive back court is TEAGUE and JOHNSON). If your argument is that Bibby sets up the offense, then why can't he set up the offense with a slashing Jamal who creates opportunities better than Jeff right now and run it from there. In that context, you have 3 shot makers on the floor (Evans, Crawford, and well, in my scenario - Bibby isn't shooting well, but he's more of a threat from 3 than Teague on his worst day). So, I hear you PH, but your answer presumes that's how he's being used now and frankly, he's not.

3. The Problem

I have already acknowledged this point, so I'll just use this time to reiterate that starting Jeff doesn't make him play more than 15-20 minutes. If he's playing well, he stays. If not, the veteran Bibby plays more or Jamal and Joe handle more of the load. So, let's not confuse start Teague with play Teague 35 minutes a game. The biggest benefits are that Jeff plays with the starters and gets experience with that and it tempts Woodson to play Teague more than one stint a game (who does the one non-garbage time stint a game other than Woodson?!?) when he's playing well like almost any coach does when he has reserves or starters that are playing well.

4. Risk Reward

This is the place where I actually disagree most with PH. Maybe you haven't been watching Darren Collison or Ty Lawson or Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry or ....(or maybe you've been watching Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, or Ricky Rubio), but the key here is that we don't know if Jeff is one of the former or the latter, but I think if we hit on the former - Jeff actually makes us a true contender for the Eastern Conference Finals. That's a reward I'm willing to risk something for. And why? Because we aren't winning a 2nd round playoff series any other way. That's the whole point of this suggestion - to squeeze more out of this season than what we're looking at right now. It's not to play it safe. It's not to hope we can win 50 games and still lose in the 2nd round. The point that seems to be made is that the Jeff Teague we see every game (when we see him) is the Jeff Teague we'd expect to see if he started every game. I'll say what PH isn't saying - he's saying that the Teague we've seen wouldn't improve. Well, almost every rookie PG I've seen is MUCH better than they were in month 1 (T. Evans and B. Jennings exempted) - Stephen Curry looked no better than Royal Ivey for the first month, but the point was that he had to figure the game out. That's exactly what I'm hoping this move does. I know our Mike Bibby ceiling. Maybe you don't OR maybe you are afraid that Teague's floor is lower than Bibby's. If it's the former, come on. If it's the latter, why worry about that if we aren't going to win the title?

Listen, I'm very aware that this move would cost us a few games, but it can't drop us below the 4th seed. We very likely aren't going to overtake the Magic no matter what, so again - my suggestion is about taking one step backward possibly to take 2 steps forward by season's end. And with the experience taking us 3-4 steps forward next season. Why do I have to wait tomorrow for something that seems like a good gamble today (with the point of my gamble being that you take the best risk to get the best reward)? Plus, it has the intangible of me seeing whether or not Woodson can make a coaching decision and philosophy change work to fix problems that he must see impacting our ability to win a title. So, I know what Bibby gives us - that isn't changing. What Teague gives us just might. He might starting hitting floaters, he might hit open jump shots, and he might run a team out of the gym in transition. Now, I only ask Mike Woodson to manage Teague well enough to see him do those things along with the defense that is already better than anything Bibby does, so that he doesn't lose us games in the postseason. That's it.

So, let's not make claims I am not making. This move wouldn't have made us in a 60 win team, but it may have made us a more dangerous playoff opponent. Last I checked - winning 60 wins doesn't guarantee a title. This isn't a regular season move. It is exactly what I always ask the Hawks to do for us and that's to stop trying to win every battle (regular season games this year and next) in an attempt to win the war (a 2010-2011 championship title). I don't want to hear about increasing the win total again. I want to see us win a 2nd round playoff series. That is the ceiling I want us attempting to break through. To the points of what it hurts, I'll just say that our jump shooting can't get much worse - we're winning by going inside. Anything that encourages us to lean more on our frontcourt, I'm all for. Anything that changes our expectations gets our complete endorsement and that's essentially what I'm asking for.

PH, it's on you....


CoCo said...

I love Blog wars!!!!

Xavier said...

ATL I can't see the overall positive for this season starting Teague w/ 23 games left in the season. (And why do you insist the Hawks cant win the Southeast or make it to the ECF's? The Hawks may need some good fortune but it's possible.) If you expect the Hawks to slide to the 4th seed with Teague starting, do you expect Teague will automatically turn "it" on for the playoffs to make the Hawks a dangerous team?
And as bad as Bibby is playing(I think it's a more of a shooting slump for Bibby more than his age) the Hawks'offense is not changing for a rookie. And the risk/reward issue is misleading. Outside of Jennings and Lawson, Curry,Evans,Collison, Flynn, Holiday are playing for teams with nothing to play for. They can afford to play through their mistakes and give them major minutes.

CoCo said...

I'll post this in both places. It seems to me Drew wants to play for this season and Larry wants to play for next season. You both make some very valid points. Larry is on the side of the Hawks aren't winning a championship so let's see what the boy can do and perhaps the learning curve next year won't be as steep. Drew is on the side of let's get Teague more minutes, but try to go as far as possible this season. At the end of the day we all want the Hawks to compete for a championship, we just disagree about the method to go about making it happen as far as Jeff Teague is concerned. I wonder if he would be flattered to know that Hawks bloggers are spending so much time on him.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Coco, well, I think I said that I'm not sold that the move is a next year move. I think the move is definitely a next year move and possibly a better move for this year. We all focus on the offense, but did we forget that defense is part of the game and I'm slapping anyone who tells me that Teague doesn't make our defense better. I think doing nothing makes the Hawks no better than they've been all season while the other teams in the Big 4 all have done things that can potentially make them better than they were before the trade deadline. Our upside is essentially in getting more production out of players like Marvin, like Jeff, like Jamal, etc. The player I think that will least get better is Mike Bibby. So, I think you are on my point only partially. I get the steady as she goes point - I don't think it gets you past the 2nd round this year and jeopardizes your ability to do it next year or any other year. So, to me, it's simply a losing proposition if your goal is a championship. If your goal is best regular season record possible, yes - Drew's method is the prudent way to go.

@Xavier, well - we can agree or disagree on the overall positive for this season, but I'd have to know what your barometer for success first. As I said, I harbor no honest belief (not counting on luck) that we're going to win the division or make the ECFs (with ECFs far out trumping winning the division to me), so I'm not saying I expect us to do anything. I'm saying that that's the worst I would expect if Teague started, so it's a floor, not a ceiling. And I'd hope that the 23 game experience would give us a weapon that's better than a slumping non-defensive presence at PG to use. I'd also say I'd expect us to have a better defense to complement a possible decline in offense.

That would be dangerous. Honestly, we can't be a great defensive team until we get Bibby off the court. It's just not possible to hide Bibby enough against great teams. So, the risk/reward is never misleading when we are playing through Bibby's mistakes - there's no upside to that. I laugh when that barb is thrown out there. There are lots of mistakes we're playing through and winning and losing games through. Teague had nothing to do with us folding vs. the Warriors and Mavericks. Nothing. So, if this was Chauncey Billups and I was saying play Ty Lawson more to give us a 'weapon' in the postseason - that would be ludicrous. I'm not - I'm saying play a guy who should have been playing more anyway because he's our 2nd best perimeter defender and let him get some experience with the starters. That's it..I don't see how him playing him a different 15 minutes jeopardizes a thing that isn't jeopardized already by having an aging PG who doesn't bring anything other than a jump shot.

Xavier said...

ATL I'm confused. You propose for Teague to be a starter. Fine. But then you bring up specific games such as the Warrior and the Maverick losses. How would starting Teague would've been better for the Hawks in those games in particular, when the problem was losing leads in the 4th? And my barometer for success is a championship. I also think that not winning a championship this year is a not a failure for the Hawks organization. As for winning the division vs. reaching the ECF (which I thought was possible this summer) are all relative to me. If the Hawks win the Southeast, then they would likely have a favorable match-up in the 1st and 2nd rounds to reach the ECF.

And I think when Bibby breaks out of his slump in the last qtr. of the season, it would be a better benefit than an experiment w/ a PG with a team with postseason expectations. And ATL you have written off the Hawks season ever since this summer. So I wouldn't think you would have any reason to think the Hawks could reach the ECF in the 1st place or be within 2 games of 1st place in SE this late in the season.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Xavier, don't be confused...you are not reading my blog fully, so I just ask you to take the comments in their totality instead of trying to slice them up piece by piece. I bring up the Warrior and Maverick games not to say that Teague would have saved the day, but to say that Bibby at point guard didn't keep us from failing as an offense OR to provide defensive prowess to help us secure the victory, so I'm saying I'd rather have Teague learning how to run a team and give him a chance to help us win those games or learn something while losing them than lose them with Bibby.

If Bibby is keeping us from losing games like those or vs. the Knicks at home, etc - then I'm 100% on board with Bibby as the starter, but when those instances keep happening and he's not making a difference in the wins we have right now, then I'm saying - I'm advocating the rookie getting more burn (not all, not even more than Bibby), just some time playing with the starters.

And if you're going to quote me, quote me all the way...I was wrong about how well Jamal Crawford would play and I said so - I also revised my predictions by week 2. So, I don't think I've written off their capabilities at all. I'm saying we have more capabilities that we haven't even explored. So, written off would be way off - now, if you're saying that written off means I don't believe we're going to win a title, then yes - written off. If you're saying that I'm saying that the season is a failure - you'd be wrong. I do think it is a major mistake to have played Jeff Teague as little as we have this season. I do believe that and that won't get solved by anything we realistically do down the stretch. I have little confidence that Woodson is going to look at this season and let Teague start next season. Very little confidence and so, we'll be in this same situation next year. Would have been nice to get past some of the growing pains now during a 'we aren't expecting to win a title' year.