Friday, June 26, 2009

Bah, Humbug!

The worst part of any draft, be it NFL, NBA, or even your run of the mill fantasy sports draft, is seeing the player you most desperately want taken right in front of you. It seems to happen endlessly and while you should expect it, it still never fails to deflate your spirits.

So it's with great apathy that the HHB welcomes Jeff Teague, Wake Forest to the Hawks Nation.

Teague, who was only forecasted by hundreds of draft mockers to go to the Hawks, seems like a good enough pick, but the prospects of a Ty Lawson selection (officially endorsed by the HHB, if you didn't know) was so close (he was snapped up by the Nuggets by way of one of the TimberWolves 99 picks in the draft a single pick before the Hawks slot) that no amount of goodness can seem to wash it away.

Still, many draft observers raved about the new Hawks guard--so much so that we had to ask ourselves--other than sour grapes---why be disappointed about Teague? After all he put up these numbers (32.7 Pts/100 possessions, 50.1 2PTFG%, 44.1 3PTFG% (102 attempts), 81.7 FT%, 48.2 FT Rate--thanks, Hoopinion!) in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. He hung 30 on North Carolina and 28 on Duke. He was repeatedly lauded for his skill of getting into the lane offensively. He is an exceptional leaper, can get to the rim, and has great range on his shot.

So what's the problem?

Well stop us if you have heard this before--His listed (supposed, we will allow) weaknesses include a lack of defense, no real point guard acumen, turnover prone, and is a bit of a tweener.

In other words, the Hawks selected another combo guard who doesn't handle the ball well, looks to shoot, and doesn't have a real position.

If you missed it, the Hawks just traded for Jamal Crawford, who exhibits the exact same portfolio but has at least three inches of height on Teague. Ronald "Flip" Murray is also cut from this cloth, thought he is an unrestricted free agent. Joe Johnson also likes to dribble and shoot.

Heck, no wonder Josh Smith took so many outside shots and raced the ball upcourt himself last year--he must have felt that this would eventually be the only way to get the ball--after all if you can't beat them, join them. What a seer!

Also, most folks believe that there is no way that the Hawks will invest the money they are in Crawford and Teague and still bring back Mike Bibby (especially if the cheaper Murray is retained)--in fact, Crawford himself was rumored to have said in an interview that he was to be the Hawks starting PG. This would leave the Hawks with no actual point guard, again---a sickness that has haunted this franchise forever and hindered them from getting to the playoffs prior to Bibby's arrival late in the '07-'08 season.

The point guard position is a quarterback role on a basketball team and can often be the vocal leader. The Hawks lack both on the court and the missed opportunity to address it through the draft and the financial barriers around doing it through free agency exacerbate the frustration we feel when the Hawks continue to go down a path they've well taken by adding Teague.

We hope that Teague emerges as a Ben Gordon type scoring juggernaut for the Hawks, but to us, right now, he smacks of an unproven NBA project who has no position and simply duplicates what exists currently on the roster and, possibly, eliminates some skill sets (by losing Bibby) that aren't replaced by the young guard.

Still, Hawks GM Rick Sund believes they took the best athlete available, which is close to saying the best player available, but not quite--but really, taking who they felt was the best, regardless of need or what we already have is all you can ask for a team--heck, it's almost all we asked just prior to the draft.

There are still some trade pieces left to play for the Hawks (Childress, Marvin, etc.) so we won't surrender to our initial negativity as yet, but selecting a player who continues to enable a failed, flawed offensive "philosophy" of isolation, dribble, and shoot does not excite us.

Why Can't You Be More Like Your Brother?

We have to ask---why is it that, no matter who the regime is or who owns the Hawks, that they:

1. Don't trade up strategically to select anyone that has ridiculously slipped (No, Dan Dickau does not count).

2. Draft a second round pick who will "stay overseas" (Read: won't cost anything)

Now, we understand that the Hawks selected a shooter (surprise!) Sergiy Gladyr who has good game, but so does David Andersen, but that hasn't brought the big fella over to help out the team in the States yet, eh? Alain Digbeu and Antonis Fotsis (who did play in the NBA, but only after the Hawks dealt him to PHL) are also part of this famed club. Heck, even Josh Childress can get in on his restricted free agent pass.

The Hawks had some pieces to deal, and some talent to acquire on draft night, but the Hawks seemed content to stand pat and in other cases, punt. Seeing Blair drop into San Antonio when the Hawks desperately needed size/rebounding and everybody, so it seemed, was dealing picks above the Hawks, smells an awful lot like a missed opportunity. In fact, there seemed to be so much movement by other teams desperate to improve through the draft process that the Hawks, even with the trade for Crawford, seemed sedentary by comparison.

In fact, soon after the Teague pick, draft room spy, Micah Hart, tweeted that Sund made the statement that "
I'm definitely happy with what we've done today." That Sund seemed content doesn't necessarily mean they were ready to hang up the phones and stop working, but it doesn't exactly engender the feeling that it (trading for more talent) was on their minds either.

Party Time!

We thank The Bill Shanks Show for having us on all day yesterday. We talked a lot of hoops, Hawks, and even chatted with Bob Rathbun. We watched as Vince Carter rumors rose and then graduated to honest to goodness trade status. Good times---

We also had a great time on the night long (and it was long) draft chat, hosted by the HHB and Hoopinion. Thanks to all who stopped by and commented and most of all, to Bret, who set the whole thing up. It wasn't all we wanted the evening to be (would it have killed the Hawks to move up for Bret's DeJuan Blair pick?) but it was good to have company as it all unfolded.

The HHB is pleased to have the NBA Christmas over for 2009, but enjoyed it greatly--further thoughts about the Hawks pick or anecdotes regarding draft night can be shared in the temperature controlled Comments Area.


CoCo said...

I didn't know all that much about Teague prior to your recap, but just know that you have now formed a somewhat unfavorable opinion of what he means to this team for me. Thanks.

Jason Walker said...

CoCo, Bret will have much more flowery things to say, as it was his influence (and stats) that was talking me off the ledge last night.

Teague seems to be a Ben Gordon type player--hope he can be as effective, though CHI still doesn't know exactly what to do with him even today, eh?

Unknown said...

I'm glad you're off the ledge. All I keep thinking is - we don't have a point guard and unless we sign someone else or Bibby - we won't have a point guard who actually plays in games for yet another year. Not only that when Bibby sits, we still won't have a backup point guard or anyone who defends point guards. Is this not troubling? I've listened to Sund and while they are crying about needing scoring - we were getting blown out b/c we couldn't defend anything, not because we couldn't score the ball (though that's something a good point guard could help with).

Anyway, I'm on record as saying - Teague is a meaningless pick for us and that we won't approach 47 wins or the 2nd round. I'm impressed by nothing that's happened with this franchise since halfway through last season.

Jason Walker said...

We couldn't score consistently against good team because of the way we approach offense---the Hawks have decided we just haven't been doing that well enough or often enough so they added two guys who do that exclusively.