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....
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