My story the other day included the line: “[P]laying Teague more minutes, especially in combination with Hinrich, would improve the defense.”
If the Hawks started that backcourt next season, it would finally signal they are serious about defense. Teague and Hinrich had developed a good defensive chemistry, with Teague as the relentless ball hound and Hinrich as the tough guy shedding screens and challenging shots. And that alignment moves J.J. to the 3, mitigating two of his main defensive weaknesses: containing quicker opponents and chasing anyone through screens.
Using Teague and Hinrich in combination could have benefits for the offense, too, which presumably means there’s a better chance L.D. would do it. Hinrich is a shot-maker who doesn’t need screens to get good looks. Teague showed against the Bulls that he’s capable of getting into the lane and making runners and floaters or setting up cutting teammates (at least when they did cut–watching Dallas last night reminded me of what that’s supposed to look like).
With Teague and Hinrich handling the ball the majority of the time instead of J.J., the Hawks would have a new, dynamic look (assuming fourth quarters aren’t still allowed to always become Iso-Joe shows). Remember when Teague said this regarding playing alongside Hinrich?
“It’s a lot easier. Defensively, you know he’s going to have your help and I am going to have his back. He’s easy to play with. He passes the ball and gets everybody involved. It makes your job a lot easier when you know a guy is willing to give up the ball. He’s a good player.”
In addition, a starting alignment of Teague-Hinrich-J.J. sends Marvin to the bench, where it’s become increasingly clear he belongs and where he might be a better fit, anyway. But there also is one major problem with using the Teague-Hinrich-J.J. alignment on a regular basis: It sends Marvin to the bench. (It also would leave the bench thin on scoring without Jamal, but that’s a topic for another time.)
Marvin, for all his faults, is a pretty good rebounder–his total rebound rate of 10.1 ranked 21st among small forwards who played at least 10 minutes per game, according to Hoopdata. (EDIT: Marvin bottom five in rebounding-rate differential this season. It could cancel out whatever defensive gains are provided by the Teague-Hinrich backcourt because, as the Hawks saw time and time against the Bulls, good defensive effort can go for naught if the opponent is rebounding too many of its misses.
J.J.’s lack of rebounding production looks worse when you compare his strong, 6-7, 240-plus pound frame to those of some of the better rebounders in the league. Guys like Melo (6-8, 230), Mike Miller (6-8, 220), Q-Rich (6-6, 230), Matt Barnes(6-7, 225), Ronnie Brewer (6-7, 230) and so on lack J.J’s physical gifts but are much better on the boards.
How is it that J.J. could push around J-Rich when he wanted to get to his spots on the floor but J-Rich (6-6, 225) is a much better rebounder?
It takes more than brawn to rebound–instincts, awareness, toughness, technique (blocking out) and persistence are also high on the list of desirable attributes. Plus, a lot of the guys who are good rebounders don’t shoulder nearly the same scoring burden as J.J.
But you’d think a guy with J.J.’s size and strength could be better if he focused on rebounding. He was right when he said the Hawks could use more guys to do the dirty work. It’s also true that the Hawks would be a better team, with a potentially better lineup, if J.J. pitched in on that effort.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat