Monday, October 11, 2010

2010-11 Season Preview: Mike Bibby

Entering 2010-11 Mike Bibby is...

a) no longer a quality NBA starter.
b) a chilling harbinger of what can happen to an organization that pays players as if they will not decline with age.
c) the player Larry Drew should start at point guard.
d) all of the above

I lean toward 'd' myself. Amusing as the machinations were, Mike Woodson did a decent job of hiding Bibby defensively last season, primarily by giving him the bulk of his minutes alongside the team's three good defenders: Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. In 2009-10, 58.5% of Bibby's defensive possessions came with the starting frontcourt also on the floor. The difference between Bibby playing alongside that complete set of defenders and playing alongside any other combination of teammates was 6 points per 100 possessions.

Though Bibby does his best to make up for his inability to move laterally by gambling for steals and flopping at the merest chance of drawing a charge, he's a very poor defender. Moving Bibby to the bench and giving him the bulk of his minutes alongside Jamal Crawford, an out-of-position Maurice Evans, and the dregs of the post rotation would only* exacerbate the team's defensive weaknesses.

*I guess it could also turn the starters into rogue MVP candidates for hard-core plus/minus enthusiasts.

Whether due to his continued decline or Jeff Teague's improvement, Bibby figures to set a career low in minutes per game for a second consecutive season. It's probably in the best interest of both the Atlanta Hawks and Larry Drew that as many of those minutes* as possible come at the start of the first and third quarters alongside the three Hawks capable of pulling extra defensive weight.

*I imagine something between 16 and 20 minutes per game is the ideal target.


Unknown said...

I get your premise that Mike Bibby with better defenders limits his downside some, but what I fail to understand is whether you think the delta between that and the larger bulk of time that we hope Teague's defense presence and improved offensive abilities with the starters gives you a better team during the 30+ minutes they are together vs. the 15 minutes Bibby is on the floor with the reserves.

I'd also assume that the reserves are never really on the floor together enough to make this as big of a difference to encourage Bibby as a starter in any tangible or intangible way. The sooner Teague takes the reins, the sooner this team takes a different, necessary shape.

(Note: this doesn't mean I'm naive enough to say Teague's the answer, just that we know Bibby isn't, so let's start the Teague era and see if Sund should be flogged for this draft pick as well.)

Unknown said...

Or the Hawks could trade Jamal and let Bibby take over his role as bench shooter who can't defend.

jrauch said...

Difference between Bibby and Jamal is that Bibby's now reduced to mainly a spot shooter. An undersized, painfully slow spot shooter.
Jamal can at least still get his own shot and get to the bucket.

Bret LaGree said...

Starting Bibby needn't prevent Teague from taking the reins as, in my imagining, he'd play with the starters much of the second and most of the fourth quarter.

It would be great if Teague's rookie season had gotten him fully prepared for taking on a larger role, but it didn't. I suspect he'll need something of an apprenticeship this season, one which might be used to mitigate some of Mike Bibby's increasingly blatant weaknesses.

These season previews are an attempt, where possible, to find a silver lining for a series of personnel decisions previously criticized for what are still generally valid reasons. I'm trying to find the balance between evaluating bad decisions or missed opportunities in and of themselves and in what those decisions will result in the coming season.