I want to get a couple things out of the way before getting to a brand new topic that I've never discussed here or anywhere. I'll give you a preview: it has something to do with point guards, this team not having any, and me lying in the second part of the preceding sentence.
First off, I dragged myself to the Timberwolves/Indiana game. Per usual, I will be the last to report this news: they lost. However, I finally get to base my reactions to the game on my eyeballs rather than a box score. I'm going to keep this brief:
- The past two preseason games, Jefferson had put up 18 points/12 rebounds, then 21 points/13 ball boards. On my other blog before coming here, I stated that these are numbers at or around what I want to see out of him consistently. However, last night he put up 27/17 and played an all-around outstanding game and that deserves recognition.
- I thought the Wolves looked good in the first half. A lot of missed shots, but they were smart, open-look attempts at least. Things got a little sloppy in the second half with less movement and shot-clock panic heaves.
- The effort on the boards, especially offensive boards, is going to be exponentially better this season than the last two.
- It's still tough to give an opinion on the team because of the injuries.
Notwithstanding my stance that there are no point guards on this team, two of the three players that either (a) claim that they are point guards, or (b) the organization tells us are point guards, did not play due to injuries.
There's my game wrap.
Now, back to it. You know where I'm going: it's that place to complain about point guards, it's after the jump, and you need to come with me. Please click "Read More".
NO POINT GUARDS
I've complained about this team's lack of point guards since I started blogging about them less than a month ago. It will be the most common theme until one of the guards on this team can prove they are a point guard. I'm not trying to criticize the players by saying they're bad players, I am making the assertion that the three "point guards" on this team are not point guards, period. Keep in mind that I think at least two of them, Marko and Foye, can be solid NBA players and even run an offense for a limited amount of time to spell a starting point guard, and the third, Telfair, I haven't seen enough of to determine if he can be a contributor in this league. Basically, I think the burden of proof is on these players to convince me that they are point guards. I will break them down individually:
I think Marko Jaric can be a solid contributor on a good team. There's two sides to the coin on his expectations here. First, from an individual player perspective, I don't know that it's necessarily fair for Timberwovles fans to have expected Marko to give anything close to the contributions Sam Cassell could have made had he continued his employ in the State of Minnesota. However, from a Timberwolves fan perspective, I think it was fair to expect that out of Marko because the organization's action of trading Cassell and a first round pick serves as notice to the organization's fans that Marko is worth Cassell, a first round pick, and a commitment to lenghty and costly contract extension. On the plus side, I like his skill set and I think he has the physical size to contribute. On the negative side, he absolutely thinks he is a pure point guard and he has stated as such.
My reasons for being skeptical of Foye's ability to be a point guard I think are valid. The following is an excerpt of something I wrote over at the Old Timberwovles Logo about Foye and my doubts of him as a point guard (here's the full post, which ironically was written with optimism about Foye being point guard):
Foye played college ball in what I call a gimmick system (any system that doesn't employ at least an attempt of a classic 5 position starting lineup). Villanova had 4 guards and a fast post player and their goal was simple: run people out of the gym. And this system can work in college...until you hit the later rounds of the tournament. They eventually lost to Florida, who runs an NBA-clone lineup (the majority of basketball programs to win the national championship over the years employed 5-position lineups, the only team I thought had a credible chance to win with a "gimmick" lineup was the 2004-2005 Illinois team with Head, Brown and Williams). Back to the point, Foye's college system was not employed in the NBA (even by the run & gun Suns), and I knew he would take work to develop.
On top of that analysis, I don't think it's accurate to label his role at Villanova as point guard. In short, I don't think Foye is equipped with the knowledge and experience to run an NBA offense as a full-time point guard, at least not yet. I'm also not convinced that he can be developed into one a la Chauncy Billups. Finally, I think that stunting his development as an explosive, albeit undersized, shooting guard would be a poor choice because I think he can give a team a better contribution if his primary duty on offense is to score. I can no longer rely on summer league success.
Sebastian "Bassy" Telfair
I have never watched Sebastian Telfair play in a game. So I'll start my analysis by disclosing that everything I'm about to write is based on stats appearing on paper that lead to 100% my assumption. With that said, I have heard repeatedly that Bassy is classified as a point guard and I do not agree.
I watched the Through the Fire documentary on the night it was first premiered by the World Wide Leader. What I know about Telfair is that he played point guard at his high school, won three straight PSAL New York City Titles, and one state championship. He is New York State's all-time leading scorer, and I think my argument that he's not a point guard begins and ends there. I'm pulling these stats off of Bassy's official Adidas website (note to Bassy: you need to update your journal). He did average 8.6 assists his junior year and 9.2 assists his senior year, but this accompanies 28.7 ppg and 33.2 ppg, respectively. Also, I don't even think I have to go into an analysis on level of competitive gap between high schoolers and NBA players.
As a high schooler, Telfair's main duty was to score and I'm going to conclude with reasonable certainty that he was double teamed, his teammates were open, he had passing lanes, superior skill over other high schoolers, and was probably not as diminutive as a 6'0" high schooler as he is being a 6'0" NBA player. According to basketball-reference.com, Telfair has 86 career starts under his belt and has a career assist total of 3.2 with 1.6 turnovers. Both stats are obviously diluted by the games he did not start. However, I see nothing to indicate that he has what it takes to be a point guard in the Association. Additionally, I don't see any strong indication that he can be a contributor, either. I will admit he that he probably has the best ball handling skills on the team.
To come back full circle, I don't think any of these guys are point guards. I hope one of them proves me wrong, but I need to be convinced. As of right now, I think Ricky Davis has the best passing skills on the team, but I also think he has been traded as I typed this.