Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Final Defense of a Teague Starting Job

First, I must say thanks to Drew for making my snow day. A real debate about Hawk issues...gotta love it. Let me also say - from the way Drew looks at this season and its potential, he's right. Bibby should start..unfortunately, he shares a point of view that I don't share, so we'll have to see if he ever determines that if my caveats turn out to be true - whether I'm right.

Here's his closing argument and my final reply:

I’m not saying my answer is THE answer. I’m offering an alternative that I think has some merit. Can it be debated? Sure, and Drew does a good job with it, but there are some holes in it if you are looking at it from my perspective and I’m debating those holes. What I have yet to hear is the defense of the very things that I am saying Bibby lacks. I haven't heard the defense if Bibby continues his slump, if Bibby continues to get WORSE on defense. You can talk about a lot of scenarios, but if you do – make sure they are apples to apples. I admit that if I held Drew's thoughts about the Hawks – debate over, but I obviously disagree with Drew’s assertion that we don’t know the Hawks ceiling. I think I do. I’m pretty confident based on our body of work that unless we play the Celtics – we don’t play a brand of basketball that will defeat the Cavs or Magic in the postseason. Could that be wrong? Sure could…I pray I am wrong, but I offer this – it’s more likely to me that the Hawks win a title with Jeff Teague as PG in the next 2 years than with Mike Bibby this year. That's the basis of my 'let him play now' mantra.

Now, the point being made by me is one where the philosophical point is one being refuted with points that skew to Drew's view of success, so each time I point out exactly WHY I believe this is the best move for the Hawks. If I use Drew's views, then he is absolutely correct. So, since we have different lens, it's hard to call a winner on this. I wouldn’t even propose this if Mike Woodson wasn’t our coach. I’m providing this as an option to help Mike over his inability to ‘find’ the rookie minutes that would allow him to develop. It’s a final attempt to get him to help the rookie develop.

So, that said – here’s my reply:

1. Again, in both instances of Mo Evans and Jeff Teague starting, people seem to believe that having these guys start means they have to play the minutes that Marvin and Mike play right now. I don’t share that belief – I do think the mix for when they play and who they play with when they play could provide positives. So, I watch just as many games as Drew – I’m fairly sure I watch more at the arena in a seat that affords me the same or better vantage point and I agree – Mike Bibby does attempt to help organize the offense both from the court and the bench. And how well is that going for us in the 4th quarter. Drew is correct – we aren’t having a problem starting games – rarely is the game starting effort in question. Ok, there’s a feather in the cap, but that’s not trending toward keeping those other times when Bibby is in the game and we’re playing horrid offense (and defense).

2. I offer different reasons for why Jeff Teague has not played well in stretches (though I’d completely disagree that he’s just bad – he’s also played well in stretches) and it’s that he doesn’t play consistently with a role defined by the coach. This is another thing that I think this move would help. You can’t look at stats completely to make your argument that he’s bad – 60% of his minutes have been garbage minutes. If you can parse out the 40% that show he’s simply a bad ball player vs. an INEXPERIENCED basketball player, I’d agree, but that’s just not a true statement.

3. I think one of his commenters (dmortone) gets to my point a little more clearly, which is if you believe that the Hawks can win a title with this team, then disregard everything I said…I just happen to not share that belief. I share that hope, but my blog is Hawk Str8Talk for a reason, so the realist in me says – we’re a 2nd round team. And to my final point…

4. Rajon Rondo…I repeat Rajon Rondo…
I will give you an example of a player where what I’m proposing worked…his name is Rajon Rondo. Started 25 games in his rookie year, no jump shot, very little experience, little confidence, etc. He went into the following season as the unquestioned starter and was the starting PG for the NBA champion. That’s essentially what I’m proposing with the added benefit of more PT in a postseason. While he had an extra year of play, I give you Rajon Rondo as my example for a player who played some as a rookie and then was turned loose. Now, so we don’t get into a pissing contest trying to find chinks in the analogy. No situation is going to be perfect, but I do think you’re making points that I’m not making because your paradigm is different.

My paradigm is that we aren’t going to do any of the things you want the Hawks to do WITH BIBBY, so I’m focusing on how the unknown now gives us answers to what we hope to do WITHOUT BIBBY next year. So, it makes Woodson coach more, it makes Teague grow up more, it doesn’t give you a magic (pun intended) bullet for how we beat the Cavs, the Magic, or Celtics. It also doesn’t sink it either…b/c I keep saying – you can sit the guy if he’s deer in headlights. That can happen too. And the reason it worries me little is because I don’t see us beating those teams anyway (well, the Celtics can be had, but it’s unlikely that we’ll be playing them in the 2nd round).

So, it’s a friendly debate and I cede to Drew's thoughts IF I believed we were going to be in the ECFs or had a shot at getting the top seed in the East. I don’t, so I’d rather just get on with the final piece of rebuilding. As for Marvin, I won’t argue the point further other than to say – I’ve always argued that Marvin as the 5th option on offense makes him passive and useless on offense in a way that him playing with the 2nd string could possibly change and unlock his offensive aggression. As for the defense, again – not asking for more Mo minutes, but trying to balance out the offensive and defensive contributions. So, that’s less of a debate than just a way to get more than 3 good offensive games out of Marvin this year. Is it proven? No. Would I do a debate on that with you? No. just would love to see Woodson try other ways to unlock the potential in the team. Anyway, it was fun..and I don’t pose it in anything less than fun. If I could get a guarantee that Teague goes into the offseason as the unquestioned starter next season, I’d back off of this a tad, but I don’t trust Woodson and Sund on this one. Just don’t…

Anyway, it is hypothetical b/c we all know it’s not going to happen. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the back and forth, you guys both raised some really good points. I think the one thing that we all can agree on is that Teague needs to be getting consistent minutes.

Ron E. said...

I will give you an example of a player where what I’m proposing worked…his name is Rajon Rondo. Started 25 games in his rookie year, no jump shot, very little experience, little confidence, etc. He went into the following season as the unquestioned starter and was the starting PG for the NBA champion. That’s essentially what I’m proposing with the added benefit of more PT in a postseason.

What you've left out is the Celtics were a 24-58 team that missed the playoffs that year Rondo started 25 games. If the Hawks were on the same pace in 2010, then a lot more people would agree with your suggestion to see what Teague can do starting.

Anyway I do think it has been very healthy to see these ideas debated even if we don't ultimately agree on them. Unfortunately Woodson (to nobody's surprise) has not given Teague enough minutes this year to really give us a true sense of how good a player Teague is or even might be.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Ron E, you might have missed this (or I might have done a poor job writing it out), but I put that caveat about every situation not being perfect and acknowledged the fact that Rando wasn't in the playoffs.

So, I understand the dynamic in play with relation to why you would play Rondo more, but I think if you dig back through that - Rondo didn't start until the end of the season when they had even less to lose, but also wanted to get him ready to start the next season. That last part coupled with my thought that we really have a ceiling with Mike Bibby at PG was why I said - we have nothing to lose. Now, I know that others don't share that view and would look at this as ballsy at a minimum, but I think teams have to do ballsy things to win titles.

Your last point though is really the biggest point and it's interesting that so many folks are impassioned about my starting assertion, but have had little to say about my prediction that Teague wouldn't get the burn that he needs to develop. I said that from the beginning and still stand by the fact that I don't even think the transition is going to happen next season. That's the true tragedy. Had Woodson brought him along well - I wouldn't even have thought of this measure...