Getting to the Point

I think it’s safe to say that the Hawks have concluded their offseason roster moves where the frontcourt is concerned. Having signed Etan Thomas and Josh Powell to fill the depth in the paint behind starters Al Horford and Josh Smith, and backups Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins, what’s next?

Nothing, quite possibly. In addition to the aforementioned six frontcourt players, the Hawks also have Marvin Williams, Mo Evans, Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Mike Bibby, Jeff Teague, and Jordan Crawford under contract. This meets the roster minimum of thirteen players, and the Hawks don’t want to get a single penny closer to the luxury tax if they can help it.  That begs a question or two (or four). Who will the Hawks invite to training camp? Why bother, if they aren’t very likely to carry more than the league minimum? Is it a good idea to carry just 13 guys, keeping a 14th spot open for any possible trades down the line? What about the point guard position or small forward position? In the meantime, we continue to wonder if we’ll ever get a credible report and answer on whether or not second round pick Pape Sy will be joining the team for training camp and the start of the season. While that isn’t huge news, it would be an unprecedented move for this Hawks front office, and might signal just how much they intend to back Larry Drew in his endeavors. After all, Drew managed to convince the decision-makers that he was the man for the job. How much support are they going to show him when he recommends that they make a move?

 

The Switch Offense

For all the talk about Larry Drew’s magical offensive schemes, do we know anything at all about them? As fans, most likely we don’t know a thing. We can hope that it is as revolutionary, or better yet “effective”, as advertised. Of course, that’s the question. Will it be effective, or is it a gimmick? Can Drew take better advantage of various players’ talents and maximize or optimize what he has to work with? Or is his offense designed to gloss over the limitations of his players? If it’s the former, then Oh Happy Day! If it’s the latter, then guess what? We’ve gone from “switch defense” to “switch offense,” and nothing more.

As discouraging as that may have sounded, I do not believe that Larry Drew wishes to install a gimmick-filled offense that is designed to mask weaknesses. I believe he means to exploit strengths. I believe that he wants to install an offense that is difficult to defend, and constantly puts pressure on opposing defenses through not only the talent of the players we have, but the design of the offense itself. And I believe that anything less will result in the same thing we’ve seen the last two years, or worse.

This may be the difference in this team’s ability to close out games, or blow them wide open (and keep a lead). A team that creates pressure all the time through both talent and design, has a better chance at winning in every game, than a team that creates pressure through talent alone. Does that mean more wins and better playoff performance? We shall see. Having said that, there will be some “switching.” No, not players switching to different positions during game play, but guys switching to different positions as others are brought in to play the vacated position. Drew has already mentioned playing Al Horford at power forward here and there, with one of the backup centers playing center. Might he also be looking to play Joe Johnson as small forward? What about Marvin Williams at power forward? Jamal Crawford at point guard? Things like this could explain why the Hawks seem disinterested in adding another small forward or point guard to the roster. Speaking of which….

 

Getting to the Point

The Hawks will begin training camp with Mike Bibby tabbed as the starting point guard. Per Larry Drew, Jeff Teague will have to take that spot from him, nothing will be given. That’s bad news to some, and good news to others. The bad news for some will be that this new offense begins with the incumbent starter. Mike Bibby, he of the non-explosive speed, mediocre assists, and general lack of penetration.  But also he of the low turnovers and threat to hit a shot anywhere inside of 25 feet or so. The good news is that Jeff Teague will be given a chance to earn the spot if he can, which means he will be given significant (if not substantial) playing time in which to prove himself. Besides, would you want your coach to just hand the starting job to a guy who hadn’t earned it? But what if this experiment fails? The only other option at point guard is really Jamal Crawford, who clearly plays better off the ball. What happens to this high-powered offense then?

One thing I’ve consistently heard from some fans is that Drew’s system will or may not require a traditional point guard. Really? And just how do we know that? What we should know by now is that regardless of what our differing definitions of “traditional” might be, a team MUST, I repeat MUST have a solid floor general who will have the ball in his hands when it matters most. The guy who protects the ball all the way to the other side of the halfcourt line, and then goes into attack mode, setting up the offense. As we’ve seen in times past, this is not the best way to utilize Joe Johnson, nor is it the best way to utilize Jamal Crawford, as both guys are scorers first, and playmakers second. Putting the ball in their hands for the sake of getting a basket is one thing. Going to them to initiate the offense is another. It’s not that they can’t pass the ball or create for others (though stats show Joe is better than Jamal on this front). It’s that they are scorers first and foremost, and should be used as such. The initiation of the offense must fall to a floor general who can make the right decision, as far as where the ball should go first, or what play needs to be run. A guy who attacks equally by looking to pass, or looking to shoot, making the proper decision on how best to proceed.

What is non-traditional about that concept? Isn’t that what a point guard is supposed to do? Does this offensive scheme somehow change the job of a point guard (protect the ball, make the right pass, initiate the offense)? Why would we not expect Drew’s offense to require a point guard to do those things? The answers to those questions still exposes the Hawks to the same thing they’ve never been able to get out of the spotlight with. Mike Bibby is aging, and we wonder what level he can contribute at now, even in a different offense. And we still do not know if Jeff Teague is ready or has what it takes to take over the offense, physical talents notwithstanding.  Again, new offense or not, he will have to be a ball-handler, facilitator, and know when to look to get his shot. If he plays the way he did last year, passing the ball off quickly to a shooting guard as soon as he crosses the halfcourt line, then nothing changes. If he continues to defer instead of initiate, then nothing changes.

Maybe we should not be looking for Drew’s offense to take the pressure off of Teague, or hide him a little from the spotlight. Maybe we should look for it to force him even more, to prove himself. After all, how could a more sophisticated offense not rely even more on the headiness and steadiness of it’s point guard? Drew says his style means all five guys attacking all the time.

The point of attack still begins with the point guard, does it not?

What do you think?

155 comments Add your comment

rusty

September 5th, 2010
9:40 pm

we need bibby to step down & teague to step up. the point guard needs to penetrate for good things to happen

JeJe

September 5th, 2010
9:59 pm

LOL JOE DIDNT TAKE A PAYCUT

MAKING THE MAX, WHILE LBJ AND WADE TOOK FAR LESS (BOSH TOO)

LOL GOOD JOB RECRUITING TOO, JOE

Big Ray

September 5th, 2010
10:01 pm

Well you know, to be fair, Joe never said he was going to recruit anybody. His agent Arn Tellem was the big mouth who brought that particular falsehood up…

Astro Joe

September 5th, 2010
10:05 pm

Quite a flow of consciousness there, Ray. Is Derek Fisher a “traditional PG”? He is a floor general at times, but he is also a guy who often stands on the perimeter and waits to see if Kobe of Pau need to kick the ball out to the open shooter. I envision (based on very little info and absolutely no visual verification) that the Hawks PG will be asked to be more Derek Fisher and less John Jason Kidd. If we settle on defining a traditional PG as a guy who needs 8+ assists per game to take his team to victory (like Nash, CP3 and Deron), then no, I think we will run a different system.

Dub C

September 5th, 2010
10:33 pm

Although I understand LD’s reasoning, I’m still concerned about Bibby being the starting PG. Unless Bibby has regained his abilities from the early 2000’s, he’ll have no impact defensively and his only contribution offensively will be from 3-point range. I hope Teague can come in and be the assertive PG he was at Wake Forest. I think Teague’s confidence will be much higher under LD than it ever was under Woodson.

Unless there is a trade (either before the season starts or at the trade deadline), our roster is now set. It is what it is…simple as that.

truly1

September 5th, 2010
10:33 pm

I agree totally Look at rondo look at chris paul look at jason kidd steve nash they make life easier on others not shooting all the time but driving and kicking look at jamear nelson.

i_am_soulstar

September 5th, 2010
10:49 pm

If Teague has to take the spot from Bibby, then this means he will have to play a certain level to earn it. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Big Ray

September 5th, 2010
10:54 pm

Astro Joe ,

LOL, half the time “a flow of consciousness” is all there is to blogging. To your points, I can definitely see a Derek Fisher role being closer to the mark than a Jason Kidd role. But is that by design, or would be it based on what we have to work with? We clearly do not have a Jason Kidd on this team by any stretch of the imagination.

At the same time, we’ll likely need more than a Derek Fisher type, as we are bereft a Kobe and Pau combo. Fact is, we don’t really seem to have an active “combo.” Do we even have a “combo?” I’d venture to say a Joe and Josh combo would work, or with the emerging Horford, perhaps a Joe and Al combination. Better to have a Al/Joe/Josh trio. But we have yet to see a consistent “big three” cohesion from our “big three”, and perhaps that has been a major part of the problem all along.

To be honest, I’d be happy if Teague played like Kirk Hinrich, but I don’t think he’s that type of guy (and I’ll leave it at that). Truth is, he may become more of a Raymond Felton type (though hopefully with a better jumpshooting percentage) – as in, able to hit jumpers, but possessing the ability to penetrate and dish, while adequately defending the opposing pg. We shall see.

Traditional point guards? The concept is limited. Tony Parker is no Steve Nash, who is no Deron Williams, who is no Chris Paul, who is no Derrick Rose, who is no Rajon Rondo, who is no Tony Parker, and we could keep that circle up forever. To heck with tradition as an all-encompassing concept, but I do think that it plays some parts. Traditionally, the pg must be smart enough to know his role, and know how to make what decisions, and when. And, as you have often stated, protect the ball. Calm the offensive flow when it gets out of control and off track. Stuff like that. Help, but don’t hurt.

Big Ray

September 5th, 2010
11:02 pm

Rusty ,

I don’t think one can happen without the other. If Teague can’t step up, then Bibby can’t step down.

Dub C ,

Unless I’m misremembering, Drew said they would go into camp with Bibby as the starting point guard. That doesn’t mean they’ll start the season that way. All that means is that Teague is not automatically handed the job. As I am Soulstar says, there’s nothing wrong with that. He has to earn that spot.

And if we’re going to say that Teague will be more confident under Drew than he was under Woodson (a point I’ll not argue about at this juncture), then what would be his excuse for not earning the job under a guy who is going to give him every opportunity to jump in there and do it?

Having said that, unless Teague suddenly storms into camp and preseason with the level of aggression that he showed at Wake Forest, I’m not expecting him to go into the season as the starter. Not saying he can’t do it. He has the tools. But he might be better baptized in the fire of the first 10-20 NBA regular season games before he takes the reins of a 50-win team that is looking to progress, and will be running new schemes on both sides of the ball. Just sayin’….

Yet, if Drew announces him as the starter on day 1, then I have confidence in his decision.

Big Ray

September 5th, 2010
11:04 pm

Truly 1 ,

That may be what we need from Teague – penetration and kicking it out. But every guy you noted in your short list of point guards is a top 3 scorer for his team, except Rondo…

I’ll say this – Teague needs to convert when he does shoot, or he’s not a worthwhile penetration threat. And, he needs to dish out to the right guys at the right times to make the opposing team pay for allowing him to penetrate. I think he can do that. But first, he has to get his layups and floaters down. Getting blocked or missing layups ain’t gonna cut it.

Big Ray

September 5th, 2010
11:05 pm

Neither way helps you draw fouls, which is something else he needs to do.

Carrlos Lyles

September 5th, 2010
11:20 pm

the Future hawks pg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUuDqxGX_5U (patience is a virtue people)

dap01

September 6th, 2010
12:00 am

No matter what offense or defense you run in the NBA, you still need a PG who:
Is fast, can penetrate, can dribble under pressure, can defend, can pressure, is quick enough to not let everyone else penetrate.

Bibby can do none of the above.

Big Ray

September 6th, 2010
12:46 am

Nice clips, “Loso”….

Big Ray

September 6th, 2010
12:46 am

vava74

September 6th, 2010
5:43 am

Ray:

“But first, he has to get his layups and floaters down. Getting blocked or missing layups ain’t gonna cut it.”

Agreed, but I think that one of the major factors last year, apart from the lack of experience, was the absolute total lack of player movement from our team.

Whenever someone penetrated (Teague, Jamal or JJ) they got completely swarmed with bodies and that must have played a huge factor on Teague’s misses in my opinion.

With increased player and ball movement, Teague’s penetrations will come in a context (hopefully) in which the defense has been forced to pay attention to other guys beyond the one holding the rock and the factions of a second which that will give Teague should be enough for him to finish better at the rim.

How many times have we seen JJ somehow manage to beat a double or triple team against ORL just to find Howard stationed down low to block his shots?

Basketball is game where decoys are one of the most important weapons. With Woody’s game plan we had none, just spectators.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
6:08 am

joBjo

September 6th, 2010
8:09 am

this new offense will take time to perfect. if the Hawks stick with it I expect them to take a step backwards in wins before it produces the desired effect of making the Hawks harder to guard. will the fans be able to stay on board if the wins don’t come as fast as the last few years?

joBjo

September 6th, 2010
8:13 am

I say we package Joe and whoever it takes for Melo.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
8:32 am

joBjo,

JJ is a BYC player which means that during this first year we can only take half of his salary back on a trade.

So, in order to get ‘Melo aside from JJ we would need to trade another player worth around 7 million (Marvin).

That would be a lopsided deal.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
8:34 am

JeJe:

“LOL JOE DIDNT TAKE A PAYCUT
MAKING THE MAX, WHILE LBJ AND WADE TOOK FAR LESS (BOSH TOO)
LOL GOOD JOB RECRUITING TOO, JOE”

Lebron, Wade and Bosh are earning more than JJ.

Florida low taxes make their net salaries much higher in spite of the lower gross numbers, which means that MIAMI has a recruiting advantage.

Presumably the same applies for ORL.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
8:53 am

I think the difference is at least 10% emerging from the fact that FLO does not charge a state tax.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
8:58 am

Or maybe is only 6%? :-)

Well, better ask to someone who actually lives there! :-D

doc

September 6th, 2010
9:01 am

yup the last number is correct. looked at it during the process. puts nyc at disadvantage with their taxes. here u r:

http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layouthtmls/swzl_statetaxrate_ga.html

doc

September 6th, 2010
9:03 am

texas also along with phoenix as well with zero stae income taxes. senior havens.

joBjo

September 6th, 2010
10:06 am

vava.
thanks for the info. dam, wuz hoping for Melo. guess that won’t happen.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
10:38 am

joBjo,

We could match salaries dumping Jamal and Marvin for ‘Melo.

The problem is that:

- Melo does not want to be here (unless we can convince his wife that ATL can cater to her career);
- Denver will look for better packages elsewhere and would not accept that trade.

Maybe, just maybe, we could get Billups with a similar deal but he is getting old by the minute and we could be giving up too much for him…

vava74

September 6th, 2010
10:39 am

doc,

and the maximum federal tax (applicable to all players) is how much? 35%?

doc

September 6th, 2010
10:46 am

35 to 38% i think.actually i dont want to think to much about it as it makes me a little queasy. tax lawyers and accountants do their thing soften the blow for most of those guys at a cost.

steve brown

September 6th, 2010
10:52 am

Carrlos Lyles-get your degree because you are going to need it. See ya at the YMCA.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
10:54 am

I’ve read somewhere that after taxes, a retention for the NBA of 9% (escrow for what ?) and agents’ fees, the players get less than 50% of the gross salary.

35% Fed Tax + 6% State tax + 5-10% Agents’ fees (in case of JJ should be 5%) + 9% escrow for nba = between 55 to 60% goes away

Not that I am sorry for JJ, but it hurts the same… and it’s a pretty explanation why so many players go bankrupt in spite of their humongous gross salaries…

vava74

September 6th, 2010
10:56 am

I read this on a RealGM blog:

“…Then there’s the player’s association that takes 9% of salary figures to hold in escrow to make sure owners are covered…”

Hawks73

September 6th, 2010
11:07 am

All this talk about motion offense but no indication on how L.D. is going to make this team better defensively…doens’t defense win championships???? Guess, that’s why we have Spirit, that is the ATL Spirit.

doc

September 6th, 2010
11:07 am

yeah if you dig deep these millions go quickly before they get their hands on it. just the same i would still like to start there and live my reasonable life. only they get caught up in the big lights and wanting to live the big life and waste away a lot of that “left over” cash. :-)

rusty

September 6th, 2010
11:10 am

i would love the trade jj& mw for melo we could have jc at sg & jj2 off the bench . this would be a better team

doc

September 6th, 2010
11:15 am

vava most of these guys dont buy a farm out in texas to make an investment like chipper did. nice little tax write off there in itself. instead they go for the mansions and maybe a little blow on the side. we all get caught up in these traps, only theirs are bigger, to cause the bankruptcies and theirs are more visible. there are a lot of sycophants/wifeys and girlfriends that are more than willing to freeload those millions. just look at “atlanta housewives” as two were from the sports world or their (now ex?) husbands were.

hawks 73, that is promised by MC, i guess after labor day is done or closer to camp.

dos2

September 6th, 2010
3:14 pm

I dont usually watch basketball, but when I do I prefer the hawks. stay thirsty my friends

Big Ray

September 6th, 2010
4:00 pm

Vava ,

I don’t think we have to worry about ball and personnel movement anymore, if these guys buy into Larry Drew’s offense. I hope they’re ready for a serious camp, because he’s going to run them like never before, I bet!

As for decoys, yes absolutely. The one person on this team who managed to drive to the basket and not get his shot blocked very often was Jamal Crawford. Between his quickness and his mastery of the up-and-under layup, he rarely got anything blocked. If I’m Teague, I’m paying attention to that. But as you say, driving into traffic that is not distracted by threats can make for a tough layup.

Big Ray

September 6th, 2010
4:01 pm

Steve Brown ,

Now see, you didn’t have to go there, LOL…. :)

Mike is back

September 6th, 2010
5:20 pm

What’s up Big Ray, its been a while…as always Great Stuff!!

On the subject of Teague, of course I’m partial to Teague, through our affiliation with Wake…however, I think a Raymond Felton is probably a fair comparison at point of his career. I think his upside is better than Felton…it really depends on if he can regain the aggression he had coming out of college.

Coming out of college, he was fearless with an explosive first step going to the rack….over the course of the season…he loss his confidence and his aggression.

I never thought he got enough meaningful minutes with the starters to make any type of impact last season. I think with more consistent minutes…that will change.

We may not know a lot about LD’s offensive system…but what we do know from LD’s tenure as a Summer League coach with the Hawks…is that he was a great communicator with the young players…his teams competed well…and they put a lot points with their up-tempo style of play.

Having said that…I think Teague will struggle early…but with the support of LD…and more consistence minutes…he will eventually supplant Bibby and become the starting PG of this team.

He doesn’t need to come in and try to be a DWilliams, CP3, Rondo, or Rose, …I think that would be to his detriment. He needs to come in…prove to LD that he can be a viable option at the PG position…and build from there. If he does that…he should be fine.

JSS

September 6th, 2010
5:45 pm

The escrow is for the NBAPA pension and the insurance that is protected by those funds.

vava74

September 6th, 2010
6:36 pm

JSS, thanks for the explanation.

This means that the players only get in some states 35% of their salary!!!

Yikes!!!!

truly1

September 6th, 2010
9:16 pm

Big ray
Great point about the teague having to score more to be a threat. I think he can get better as his career goes on because rondo steve nash and jason kidd did not come in the league being top 3 scorers on there team. I dont think teague has too neither bibby isnt now but i think teague need to just be efficient and drive and kick. By nature the lane in going to shink for open shooters. If you are not having him as a coach do that then he doesnt need to be out there. because he is not a catch and shoot guy.

doc

September 6th, 2010
9:27 pm

what did we learn in the blog today in the blog …. “how to shrink a millon dollars in the nba”. that is worse than being an owner with a tax.

joBjo

September 7th, 2010
7:38 am

vava
then a sign and trade is different from a sign and then trade?

vava74

September 7th, 2010
9:12 am

joBjo,

I am not an expert, however, I believe that the rules clearly stipulate that a player who has re-signed can only be traded at “full face value” if there is a simultaneous trade.

hence, the expression “sign and trade”.

Astro Joe

September 7th, 2010
10:01 am

I think a sign and trade has something like a 48 hour life span AND it requires that the player agree to both the terms AND the team that they are being traded to. In the case of the Hawks, they can’t “trick” a player into signing a contract and then flip them over to another team. That circumvents the spirit of free agency which allows a playerto negotiate a new contract AND choose the team they want to join. Imagine an extreme example where a player thinks that he is signing with a serious title contender (e.g. Steve Blake with the Lakers) only to be traded the next day to the T’Wolves. I think a newly signed player can’t be traded for 90 days (unless it was a pre-determined sign & trade agreement).

O'Brien

September 7th, 2010
12:43 pm

I would like to see Teague buy in 110% on defense. He will make mistakes on offense (turnovers, missed shots, etc).

But that should not stop him from having the “in your face” defensive mentality, diving for loose balls, sacrificing his body etc. There will be a learning curve, but the defensive effort and intensity needs to be there from training camp on…

Big Ray

September 7th, 2010
1:57 pm

Mike is Back ,

Always good to see you around, man! I agree on Jeff Teague, I think he will struggle as well, but this is part of the learning process. I wanted to see him get some of that last season so he wouldn’t have a steep a learning curve, but oh well. I was never one to want him in the starting lineup until he got his feet wet, shook it off, then learned to run with the big dogs. I will enjoy (I hope, anyway) watching him and seeing how he progresses.

truly1 ,

I think Teague will be fine if he learns to convert at the basket, draw fouls, hit his free throws. He displayed a little step back jumper in summer league, and I think he should work on that, as it will help keep defenses honest. At first, he will surprise with his speed, but then teams will bait him into going into the lane, and then collapsing the defense on him. What will he do? Will he learn to convert anyway or draw the foul? Will he dish it off to an open teammate? If these guys buy into Drew’s offensive schemes, it will be for the better, and he could get a pile of assists. If not, then he will struggle the same way he did last season when he was in the game.

Two things hurt him most out there – getting into the lane and then being indecisive or “soft” once he got lost among the defenders, and teammates either being out of position, fumbling well-placed passes, or missing shots after he dumped the ball off to them (Joe Smith, Zaza Pachulia).

O’brien ,

I agree 100%. Teague has the speed and the hands. He’s already shown that he can rip the ball away and convert it into a fast break dunk on the other end. Imagine him ripping a pass or dribble off, then streaking up the floor with Josh on the wing…

Astro Joe

September 7th, 2010
3:52 pm

This blog does a good job of summarizing some of my thoughts about MC’s blog on Drew’s defense. Basically, there is a reason why the previous coach felt the need to switch as much as they did… trying to win with the hand that was dealt. Of course, that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement and certainly holding every player accountable for giving max defensive effort is a great starting point.

http://www.hoopinionblog.com/2010/09/stop-switching.html