Friday, June 22, 2007

Mark Bradley Advocates for Horford

I like Mark Bradley's reasoning for taking Al Horford, which is simply that he'll be the best player available and the Hawks do not have a true power forward, despite the fact that they spent the #6 pick in the Draft last year trying to acquire one. Taking Horford would be a giant admission on the part of Billy Knight that he messed up last year, but he needs to be focused on making the team better rather than making sure that his reputation is bolstered. As a great man once sang, when you ain't got nothin', you got nothin' to lose. If Horford is drafted and plays well while Shelden Williams watches, then Knight will look a little suspect, just as Bobby Bowden will this fall when Florida State suddenly has an offense after he fired Fredo. In the end, though, if the product on the field/court is good, then no one will care.

I definitely disagree with Bradley on the merits of a trade for Mike Bibby, who is in the decline phase of his career. Additionally, the salaries don't match up between Bibby on the one hand and Josh Smith/#11 pick on the other. I'm no expert on NBA trades, but I'm not sure which Hawks players can be sent back to the Kings to make the salaries match up. A third team would have to be brought into the mix, at which point my head would start spinning.

I'm coming around to Crittenden as the choice at #11. In terms of Crittenden versus Acie Law, Law isn't really a point guard. He averaged fewer assists as a senior than Crittenden did as a freshman. Law is a scoring point guard (like Tyronne Lue, minus the defensive liabilities) and he sets off Randolph Childress alarms in my head. I'm also a little leery of four-year college players who have big senior seasons competing against younger players.

As for Crittenden versus Conley, there's an argument to be made for Crittenden. For one thing, Conley's stock went up because he played on a very good team that went deep into March, so you have recency and reflected glory issues with him. Crittenden averaged more assists per minute than Conley and also averaged more free throw attempts per minute. The former stat is very impressive for Crittenden because he was surrounded by inferior talent; the latter stat can be explained away because Conley didn't have the ball in his hands as much as Crittenden did. Finally, Crittenden was a significantly better shooter from three-point range (.356 versus .304) and he did so without Greg Oden forcing defenses to collapse on him. Anyway, take all of these stats with a grain of salt, as we're talking about a fairly small sample size.

The bigger grain of salt that you should take from this post is the fact that the contrarian in me likes to defend Billy Knight. In each of the past two years, I went away from my initial instinct (taking Chris Paul or Darren Williams in 2005; taking...I can't remember whom in 2006) and bought Billy Knight's reasoning for the ultimate pick that the Hawks made. I'm doing that again right now. If the rumors of his interest in Horford and Crittenden are correct, then I'm buying the reasoning yet again when my first instinct was to take Conley and then best available 4/5 with the #11 pick. The good news is that in this instance, I have Mark Bradley in my corner.


Jason Mann said...

I think one area where Conley blows Crittenton out of the water is definitely decision-making. Conley had a 2.76/1 assist-to-turnover ratio while Crittenton's was 1.44/1. Conley also had a better overall shooting percentage, even though he's not yet a good shooter. Both players have their merits, but a guy who plays faster than almost anyone while producing impressive numbers and making few mistakes is a guy I'd love on my team.

If we end up picking Law at 11, I don't think I'd mind, even if he isn't a true point guard. The Hawks have a franchise player who can thrive as a distributor (Joe) and their other top playmaker is also a good passer (Smoove, 3.3 APG). If Acie can hit some big shots, play tight defense, bring some leadership and keep double teams away from our stars, I think he'd be fine. Honestly, if he's Tyronn Lue without the defensive liabilities, I have no real problem with that.

Anonymous said...

What a huge risk Conley is to me. How can you judge a point guard who has had the absolute best player in the entire country on his team (every year) since the 8th grade?

There is no way to accurately gauge the amount of pressure that takes off a player.

Anonymous said...

Mike Conley is a 6'3" guard who shot 52% from the field. How often do you see that happen? He's a fantastic finisher around the basket. He's also a terrific playmaker. As you can see in the link below, he had six 10-assist games. At the college level, where games are 40 minutes long, that's outstanding. Yes, he had a beast in the middle to play with, but in some ways I thought he was at his best when Oden was out, allowing him to push the tempo and clearing up room in the inside for his penetration. His main weakness is his outside shot, but it's a lot easier to teach that than it is to teach quickness/finishing ability.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, here's the link:

Jason Mann said...

Conley comes with some risk (as any player does), but if you look at his performance and his skills -- I think he's obviously the best point guard in the draft. I think he blows everyone else out of the water.

Playing with Oden certainly hasn't hurt Conley, but everyone we're talking about here played with and against great players. I don't see it being a huge issue.

Anonymous said...

I am part of a GT family, went to a GT feeder high school. No, I am not an alum though. I followed every game of Crittenton last year.

I don't have confidence in his ball handling skills or his emotional maturity. I wouldn't pay top money to a 19 year old to watch them develop skills they should have developed in college. However if forced to choose between Crittenton and Conley. I choose Conley. If the choice is between Conley and Law. I choose Law.

Edo River