Friday, June 26, 2009

Crawford & Teague

It would be a good law firm, but I'm not sure how they would be as a back court.

There's not much to dislike about the Jamal Crawford deal. The Hawks got a good scorer for virtually nothing: Acie Law and the corpse of Speedy Claxton. The only way that this move turns out badly is if Law suddenly turns into a good point guard. Even in that unlikely event, the criticism will go to Mike Woodson for not handling a young player properly, rather than to Rick Sund for getting rid of a player who wasn't producing and wasn't getting minutes. The Hawks should know better than anyone else whether Law is ready for point guard minutes in the NBA.

Crawford is one of the more selfish players in the NBA, but he ought to fit in reasonably well with the Hawks. Atlanta does not need a conventional point guard to run a structured offense, break down defenders, and set up teammates. Whatever it is that Mike Woodson runs on offense does not require a true point guard. It requires a one with a good enough handle to bring the ball up the floor and then a good shot to punish opponents for doubling Joe Johnson. I don't love the idea of the ball in Crawford's hands too much, but if the offense is running through Johnson or if Crawford is running the offense under strict "don't do too much yourself" instructions, then he should be fine. If nothing else, he's a better version of Flip Murray. He's also a second player for the Hawks to use in the Johnson role in Woodson's beloved "Joe Johnson versus the world" offensive sets at the end of close games. Crawford is a streaky scorer, so by the final minutes, Woodson will know if he can be trusted with a big possession. When he's on, Crawford is at least as good one-on-one as Johnson.

As for Jeff Teague, I'm a little underwhelmed. A college point guard with 3.5 assists per game? A 1.1-1 assist/turnover ratio? I like the fact that Teague is described as having a great first step, the ability to finish, a good jumper, and the ability to get to the line. The positive spin on the pick is that an athlete like Teague will do better in an NBA offense, which tends to be less structured than a college offense. I also like the fact that his stock dropped after one bad game in the NCAA Tournament. (Cue another reference to the recency fallacy.) However, can he pass the ball? This seems like a relevant question for a point guard, no? After four years of "can he throw the ball accurately?" questions about Mike Vick, we ought to be concerned when a player is questionable at the most important skill for his position. In the end, I'm lukewarm on the Teague pick, but I like it more than the Acie Law pick and I'll freely acknowledge that it's hard to find a quality starter in the later half of the first round.

Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the Hawks' offseason so far. I'll reserve judgment until they have made decisions on Bibby and Marvin. The best news is that Atlanta Spirit traded for a player with two years and $20M remaining on his contract, so the fears that they weren't going to spend any money in the offseason have proven untrue. As between Bibby and Williams, I'd prefer that the Hawks spend their attention on signing the latter, but I worry in the back of my mind about leaving the guard portion of the roster full of nothing but combo guards. Then again, at this stage in his career without the ability to beat opponents off the dribble, is Bibby a true point? Marvin is a fungible player, but he did get better last year before the injury and he shouldn't be too expensive in this market. Plus, we can all forgive him for not being Chris Paul now that we finally have our Wake Forest point guard, right?

1 comment:

james said...

great to see you posting about the hawks again