Despite playing an extremely talented NBA D-League team tonight, and despite his Hawks being more or less in control of the game throughout, Coach Larry Drew opted to bless Jeff Teague with another DNP. Teague, whose performances have been up and down during his erratic playing time this season, is just over a week removed from his "breakout game" against the Portland Trailblazers. Meanwhile, on another court in another city, former Hawks rookie Jordan Crawford was doing his best impersonation of (pardon the cliche - I had to do it) another Jordan. And yes, that is Yi Jianlian peeping in from the side in this old picture of JC2. 1 on 5, baby.
After the March 12th Blazers game, Coach Drew had the following to say about Teague. "I've never stopped believing in this kid because I see what the package is with him..." Heart warming words to say the least. Yet, despite the lip service, all the signs that actually count point to Teague's definitively weaker showings in the games since then having caused Coach Drew to, well, stop believing in him. Following the Portland game, Teague earned two starts but saw his playing time go from 44 to 27 to 20 minutes. Teague didn't get into Friday's thorough beatdown by the Miami Heat until "earning" 17 minutes of garbage time - despite the far-fetched idea that his speed could be a useful angle of attack against an increasingly geriatric Mike Bibby.
Interestingly enough, while Teague's minutes appear to be on the decline, his former teammate has seen his share of the clock increase substantially following injuries and Washington's apparent decision to emphasize rookie playing time for the remainder of this lost-cause season. Incomprehensibly, there appears to be some sort of correlation between playing time and player productivity. Consider:
Jordan Crawford as a Hawk: 41 DNP-CD's... in 16 games he averaged the following: 10mpg, 4.2ppg on 35.1 percent shooting, .9 turnovers and assists, 1.8 rebounds, and .2 steals.
Jordan Crawford post-Hawks: 0 DNP-CD's... in his first 11 games he averaged the following: 24mpg, 12.3ppg on 40.3 percent shooting, 2.1 turnovers, 2.3 assists, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals.
All of which brings us to tonight. While Teague was breaking in the cushion on his bench chair so that it won't squeak when he shifts his weight, Crawford posted the following stats (while helping Washington remember what it feels like to win): 44 minutes, 21 points on 47 percent shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 3 steals, and 1 block. Now. I'm not trying to say that playing Teague every night will turn him into a world beater. I'm not even saying that he will turn out to be a good player. What I absolutely am saying, however, is that giving him consistent, meaningful minutes every night will make him better. And making him better will allow us to decide what to do with/about him for the future.
Especially considering that our financial ceiling for next year is Gary Coleman high (may he rest in peace), and - oh yeah - we no longer have an upcoming 1st round draft pick, and essentially only Pape Sy from last year's draft to develop, we need to squeeze every last drop of talent out of the players we already have.
Except for Josh Smith's three point shooting "talent." In fact, I very much want those drops un-squeezed. #FreeTeague