The Hot Button: Why the Hawks still must pluck a PG

It became clear the moment Mike Bibby arrived from Sacramento: This is how it’s done. You find a point guard and put the ball in his hands and live happily ever after. And that’s why, in a draft deep in nothing except point guards, the Hawks should take one with the 19th pick tonight.

Let’s assume the Jamal Crawford trade is consummated, and let’s even assume the Hawks re-sign Bibby: Even then, there’d always be a need for a distributor, and no team knows it better than the one that passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2004. It took the Hawks until February 2008 to find a real point guard, and once they did they were never the same.

With Bibby on the floor, they were transformed. They were creative. They were properly positioned. They were, for lack of a better word, good. They took the Celtics to Game 7 that spring, and they were even better in 2008-2009, winning 47 games and a Round 1 series. They know now what they should have known all along: Unless you have a superstar capable of making plays for others — LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe — you can’t win without a point guard.

There will be good ones available tonight at No. 19. That’s guaranteed. Eric Maynor of VCU could be there, and so could Ty Lawson of North Carolina. Either would be fine with me. Maynor is a better shooter, but Lawson runs the break expertly.

I prefer those two, you should know, to Jeff Teague of Wake Forest, who’s more a combo guard than a pure point and who was awful — seven turnovers — in the Deacs’ NCAA loss to Cleveland State. And I don’t like Jrue Holiday of UCLA at all. He’s not really a distributor, and he didn’t have much of a freshman season in a Ben Howland system that usually makes stars of its guards. (Think Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison.)

And what of Brandon Jennings, who bypassed college to spend a year playing in Europe and whom Chad Ford of ESPN.com has coming to Atlanta (link requires registration) even with Maynor and Teague available. Well, Jennings is a major talent, but I’d like a bit more polish in my point guards. Lawson played three collegiate seasons, Maynor four.

Rick Sund said this week, “We’re looking at every position,” but the upside on smaller men at No. 19 seems greater than that on bigger guys. Tyler Hansbrough will be a solid pro at best; B.J. Mullens didn’t average double figures in the Big Ten.

Which PG would best fit the Hawks?

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Apart from Blake Griffin and maybe Hasheem Thabeet, there’s a significant question regarding every big man in this draft. The point guards are simply better this year, and there are so many more of them.

The Hawks can subsist nicely with Al Horford at center the next five seasons. They cannot maintain their newly high standard without a young point guard coming down the pipeline. There may never be another opportunity to find one this good so low in the draft.

And we should prepare ourselves for that new paradigm: The Hawks aren’t apt to be in the lottery again anytime soon. They won 47 games last season. With Crawford, they should win more than 50 in 2009-2010. But a pick at No. 19 isn’t so much a pick for today as for tomorrow. At this moment, tomorrow looks bright for the Atlanta Hawks. Taking the right PG in Round 1 tonight will make tomorrow brighter still.

142 comments Add your comment

LEA

June 25th, 2009
11:02 am

I agree 100%, we can find a solid big man in free agency or by trade.. I would prefer Lawson over, Teague and Maynor.. BUT as long as one of them are in A Hawks uniform, it’s all good.

Benjamin

June 25th, 2009
11:12 am

I’d take Jennings. Like it has already been said, he’s a long-term project, but he’s also a guy who won’t be utilized that much next season anyway. He’s got the most upside, and a year or two under Bibby would be as good a tutelage in point guard play as anyone could receive.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:18 am

The Bradley rankings, such as they are: 1. Eric Maynor 2. Ty Lawson 3. Brandon Jennings 4. Jeff Teague 5. Jrue Holiday.

Melvin

June 25th, 2009
11:23 am

If Jennings is on the board, you gonna take him. 3 yrs from now, he will be the steal of the 2009 draft. His skills and flashy play could allow him to be the face of a franchise (i.e. Jersey/Merchandise Seller)…

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:26 am

I’ll admit the Jennings notion is getting more appealing to me.

Rufio

June 25th, 2009
11:27 am

We definitely should go PG at 19

then how bout Luke Nevill out of Utah… he went to kell high school and is 7′2. last year he averaged 16.9 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game… and was Mountain West Conference player of the year… thats not too shabby for a guy projected to go late in the 2nd round if at all… if he goes undrafted, he would be my first target in FA.

- i should note those numbers are all i know about him since i hadnt heard of him before there was a right up in the Cobb paper this morning, haha.

shresee2

June 25th, 2009
11:28 am

Mark do you think Ty Lawson reaching out to the hawks last minute for a workout on Wednesday means he believe he is falling around the middle of the first round and would prefer the Hawks to others? How do you think this appears to the hawks management, and is he size going to be a factor for Woody and his team? I do hear out of the pg Ty is clearly the fastest of the group from one end of the floor to the other, which maybe great for all the fast breaks the hawks like to run with Jsmooth and Al.

gcsu12

June 25th, 2009
11:29 am

Mark, any chance that the Hawks would take Wayne Ellington if he’s still on the board at 19? I know he’s not a PG but he would probably be the best available at 19.

mudcat

June 25th, 2009
11:30 am

Wow! I agree with MB that Maynor should be the pick if the Hawks pick a PG with the pick. (That doesn’t happen very often). But the Hawks are going big (again) with Mr. Hansbrough, if the Hawks do get Crawford. Zaza is gone, and I think they”ll really try to sign Bibby. I love Lawson, but I think he’ll be gone with the 18th pick.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:33 am

I know the Hawks like the three big Carolina guys — Lawson, Hansbrough and Ellington — but I think having Crawford makes it less likely they’ll take a shooting guard.

Reid Adair

June 25th, 2009
11:35 am

Mark, I agree completely. Assuming the Crawford deal gets finalized, they still have to re-sign Bibby and Murray. I’m all for getting a true point guard with the first-round pick tonight. Either Maynor or Lawson would be great.

RedTailHawk

June 25th, 2009
11:36 am

Either of the 1st 2 will do. Either one will rot on the bench until Woody is gone. Now, how about some info on J Crawford. What is wrong with Schultz’s blog?

DaTonian

June 25th, 2009
11:39 am

It still wont matter…
A. Woody wont play him
B. Woody wont play him
C. Woody wont play him

Dawg A

June 25th, 2009
11:41 am

I love Lawson and what he brings to the table. Let’s pray he can come in and Woody won’t destroy him or not play him like he did Acie. It concerns me that Woody is having more say this year than in the past. But let me fast forward……. Woody won’t be in these discussions this time next year!
Mark… which player is less likely to be hurt by the Woody coaching style this year?

LEA

June 25th, 2009
11:41 am

Hansborough is not a big . he’s a tweener..

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:41 am

I don’t think they’ll re-sign both, Reid. It’ll be one or the other. And if you keep both and add Crawford, that puts four guys ahead of the rookie PG in a backcourt rotation, which is where Acie Law was.

Billy Nite

June 25th, 2009
11:42 am

If they draft another guard then we r looking at acie all over again he wont play at all if they sign bibby n flip so getting a big if he is there makes the most sense to me. hansbrough or blair

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:43 am

Dawg A, that’s a heck of a question. Off the top of my head, I’d say Maynor. He’s more controlled than Lawson. (Not to say Lawson is wild, but he plays uptempo.)

HawkKingBibby

June 25th, 2009
11:44 am

If he goes in there and plays well AND PLAYS DEFENSE Woody will play him. Woodson might be a little hard headed but he is not an idiot. He will play a rookie if a rookie can play and defend.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:45 am

I don’t think DaJuan Blair will be around when the Hawks pick, and I doubt Hansbrough will be, either. He seems to be climbing every board, which I take as an indication that folks were greatly moved by his workouts. And seeing how hard he works is impressive.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:46 am

My two cents on Acie: He was great at A&M because he had the ball in his hands. That couldn’t happen with the Hawks because Joe had the ball. And Acie fell into that rookie trap — he’d miss a jumper and get taken out of the game, so he ceased taking jumpers and just started driving to the hoop. Which diluted the whole effect.

Mac

June 25th, 2009
11:50 am

The Hawks would be better passing on him, I think. But, I think Tyler Hansbrough has the potential to be more than just a solid pro. Work is what made Bird, Bird. Psycho T won’t be Bird, but he won’t be Steve Mix either. And, for the record, I was a big Steve Mix fan. Excellent sixth man.

Eric

June 25th, 2009
11:53 am

You are wrong on this one Mr. Bradley. If the trade goes down with Crawford he becomes the starter at point, Bibby is let go and the Hawks sign Flip as a back-up and occasional starter. The Hawks then take a big at 19, or they deal the pick with another player (Marvin Williams) for a veteran big (Marcus Camby). This is why the Hawks were looking at Tyler Hansbrough yesterday, it all makes sense now.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:55 am

I don’t think Crawford is the starter at PG unless the Hawks don’t keep Bibby, and I think keeping Bibby can still happen.

And I don’t understand why everyone loves Marcus Camby so much.

And I liked the Mixer, too, Mac.

Reggie

June 25th, 2009
11:57 am

Mark

Dont you think Eric Maynor & Acie Law are similar types of players?

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
11:58 am

I think Maynor passes it better than Acie.

Ramblin Wrecker

June 25th, 2009
11:58 am

Why wouldn’t the Hawks try to trade Marvin Williams and the #19 pick to move up a few spots to ensure they get the guy they like the most out of the list of guys you mentioned? If the Hawks prefer say Ty Lawson (which is my preference, PG off the best team in the nation), then they should target some of the teams a few spots ahead of them and work out a deal. Surely Marvin Williams is worth 3 to 4 spots in the draft. And isn’t a young point guard a more valuable piece than a forward, a position the Hawks have absolute redundancy at.

J.J.M.

June 25th, 2009
11:58 am

I was just wondering. Bradley would you trade mMrvin and this year 2nd pick for Tyson Chandler? or is that a little to much because Chandler is injured alot?

J.J.M.

June 25th, 2009
12:00 pm

sorry typo Marvin

Big Ray

June 25th, 2009
12:03 pm

Still advocating taking a solid point man.

I, too believe that keeping Bibby is still possible with Crawford around. And what incredible depth and options in the backcourt we have then. Let Flip walk, as he would be bumping into the MLE, which we’ll need for a big guy, or to keep Zaza.

In the meantime, grab that point man. And don’t worry about Woody. If he can’t get on board, then he’s not part of the plan. We may have picked up a GM that knows how to either make him straighten up and fly right, or hang himself with his own rope. Billy was unable to do either. Doesn’t matter which one it is, long as we win, and get better.

Adding Crawford made us better.

gcsu12

June 25th, 2009
12:03 pm

Mark if the Hawks have to choose between re-signing Flip or Bibby, who should they re-sign?

Big Ray

June 25th, 2009
12:07 pm

I highly doubt that Hansbrough, Blair, or Mullens will drop to us.

I don’t want Jrue Holliday either, even though he has the big potential tag on him. If you get him, you better have two very solid options at pg already, so you can bring him along, hoping that the b-ball skills catch up with the body. And if WE were to pick him, we’d better be sure we can either re-sign Bibby, or land Jarrett Jack. I think Sessions is out of the mix now, unless Milwaukee wants to concentrate on re-signing Villanueva, which is probably a more serious concern now that Jefferson is gone. They need that swing-forward scorer, and Villanueva is it.

Hmmm, maybe Sessions can be had anyway, but I put less stock in it now. Unless of course, they pick up Flynn or some other pg in the draft. We’ll see. But I’d rather take a chance on another pg, upside or not.

Eric

June 25th, 2009
12:08 pm

Crawford would make the Hawks even more interchangeable because he plays the 1 and 2. The Hawks could play a line-up that would look like this.

PG Flip Murray
SG Jamal Crawford
SF Joe Johnson
PF Josh Smith
C Al Horford

As for Marcus Camby, people like him so much because the man was the DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR a year and a half ago. He led the league in BLOCK SHOOTS like the last 4 out of 5 years, are you kidding me???

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
12:08 pm

You can’t do anything with Marvin Williams or any free agent — including discuss a new contract — until July.

And I’m leery of Tyson Chandler. I think I’d rather keep Marvin, even if only for one year, than do a sign-and-trade with the Hornets.

Dawg A

June 25th, 2009
12:09 pm

Mark …. what is the hold up on the Crawford trade? And based on what ESPN is saying about Crawford should we be concerned with him playing for Woody?

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
12:10 pm

GCSU, that’s a great question. Me, I’d rather have Bibby than Flip now because Crawford is essentially a better version of Flip.

Big Ray

June 25th, 2009
12:10 pm

gcsu12,

Bibby. Neither guy is a great defender, but Bibby brings more. However, that does mean spending more money, but hopefully negotiations with Bibby will be easier. Crawford is an upgrade over Flip (so why have two of nearly the exact same thing), and both give you similar effect, though Crawford definitely passes it more, and can be a better ball defender if he’s convinced he should be.

That, and Bibby gives you true leadership. Neither Crawford nor Flip give you that, but that also isn’t why you acquire them. You do that for instant offense.

Big Ray

June 25th, 2009
12:11 pm

Mark,

Heh heh! Sorry for the echo. Seems we were typing at the same freakin’ time. Shall we claim “great minds” or coincidence? Ahhhhh…let’s go with great minds think alike. Sounds better, even if it’s BS, LOL!

John

June 25th, 2009
12:13 pm

If Jennings falls and is still available, I think the Hawks have to take him. There is bust potential there, but there is with all of these guys. I think Jennings could be a star though, whereas the other guys will be solid players. At 19, I think you have to take the chance. I still like Lawson and Maynor too though. I was liking the idea of Douglas before the Crawford trade. Is there any chance we take Jennings since we did not work him out???

MaxW

June 25th, 2009
12:13 pm

MARK – Why wouldn’t we take hansborough (assuming he is there at 19), and then come back and take D. Collison from UCLA, or Collins from Kansas with out second round pick? Also why is Mcclinton from Miami not getting any love? He will be a star in the league!

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
12:14 pm

It is uncanny, Big Ray, how much we tend to think alike. And if I were you, I’d be worried. I’ve spent the last 30 years being called an idiot.

Crawford has knocked around a lot, but I also think he has suffered from being on crummy teams. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t see playing here as a great chance to get things right.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
12:15 pm

Collison won’t be there at No. 49. Sherron Collins isn’t in the draft. And I’ve seen Jack McClinton play, and I don’t know that he’s an answer to anything.

John

June 25th, 2009
12:16 pm

Ramblin Wrecker,

There is no way Marvin should be traded for a couple spots in the draft to pick up Lawson. Marvin is a solid pro who was the 2nd overall pick. I don’t think you trade that for an unknown PG when others are available.

Big Ray

June 25th, 2009
12:16 pm

Eric,

I like Camby, but he was DPOY a couple years back, not the defending champion. I like him as an aquisition that you make in addition to bigger, more dynamic moves. Camby works good as a big who comes off the bench for us at center for 20-25 minutes per game. I don’t like him as a starter, even if it slides Horford to the 4 (something I thought was best for him, but may not be).

Better to come out with Horford as the starting 5 in that situation, with Camby subbing in for him, and playing alongside him when we go big. And yet, I’m also not sure what we’d have to give up to get him. If it’s Marvin, we better be also getting something else out of the deal. Something (or someone) that’s a part of the future, not just deal filler.

J.J.M.

June 25th, 2009
12:19 pm

funny how the past players we trade end up playing very well on that team we trade them to. I wouldnt be shock if Acie Law ends up playing well with the warriors but would it be coaching? or would it be because he just never got the chance here with the Hawks?

gcsu12

June 25th, 2009
12:19 pm

Mark, expanding on my previous question, is there any chance that the Hawks can actually re-sign both Flip and Bibby? One of the Hawks problems last season was the lack of depth coming off the bench. If they could keep Flip in addition to Bibby and with the addition of Crawford, their bench would be much better off.

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
12:20 pm

Camby is one inch taller, 10 pounds lighter and 12 years older than Al Horford. He averaged 10.7 points and 9.8 rebounds last season. Horford averaged 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. That’s not even a close call in my book.

Eric

June 25th, 2009
12:22 pm

Bibby can’t guard anybody, he’s to slow or not strong enough to hold off these younger guards. Flip can guard, he has speed he had alot of steals last year in limited time. Flip also gets to the basket that’s not Bibby’s game, he’s a shooter. If the Crawford deal goes down, he gives you that second or third scorer that the Hawks need when Joe Johnson forgets he’s a 2 time ALL-STAR.

Big Ray

June 25th, 2009
12:23 pm

Mark,

LOL! I’m a cop. I’ve spent the last 10 years being called a heck of a lot worse, and hope to spend another 30 or so more doing the same. Well, not hoping for more names, but expecting them (and laughing through some of it).

I don’t condemn Crawford for being on three different teams in the last 9 years, and I agree that he would/should be delighted to come to a team that is on the rise, not in a rebuilding mode or otherwise. People say he’s not a winner because he’s played on losing teams. Same could have been said of Paul Pierce prior to the arrival of Garnett and Allen, no? Crawford will be fine.

Also, his role will be changed and adjusted to a degree. In the past, teams needed him to just go out and shoot, score as much as possible. He will do some of the same here, but he will also have opportunities to get assists, and the pressure of being the 1st (and sometimes only) scoring option will be lessened quite a bit. At the same time, he will take some pressure of Joe and the others when it comes to scoring. Thing is, he is a more consistent and potent scoring threat from game to game, than say Flip. Can’t be unhappy about that!

Mark Bradley

June 25th, 2009
12:23 pm

JJM, how long did it take Chauncey Billups to settle? (Five teams in six seasons, I believe.) It’s all a matter of opportunity in the NBA.

And GCSU, I think the Hawks would be better served signing one and directing whatever money is left toward a backup center. (Zaza’s a free agent, too, as you know.)