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A brief reprieve on Mike Woodson's player development skills

I have never thought Mike Woodson was good at developing players. For all Woodson's negatives, this one can actually be a point of contention. It is one area where I could lose to a debate to the few staunch Woody supporters. Whereas in game foul managmenet and the infrequency of touches in the post are slam dunk arguments for me, the facts don't always sway so easily to my side with this one.

Woodson has after all had either the youngest team in the league or one of the youngest every year he has been in Atlanta, and the Hawks record has improved with each one. Still, I have long placed more credit toward that improvement in the natural maturation of a player and the radical improvement of players surrounding those highly athletic young guys. There were no Joe Johnson's, Al Horford's, or even Mo Evans on that 13 win team. And if Woodson was truly a developer of talent, we would see Marvin improve his aggression, Josh play largely close to the hoop, and Al Horford get more touches. What I mean is that Marvin working on a three point shot has little or nothing to do with Woodson if he does not use that extra spacing said shot provides to improve and develop the surrounding players.

However, I stumble along articles like this one (via Ball Don't Lie) from the Contra Coast Times and I realize, while I may not be wrong in my assesment of Coach Woodson, I am not totally right.

After spending much of his first two seasons on the bench in Atlanta, [Acie] Law expressed relief over getting out of Atlanta when the Warriors acquired him last month in the Jamal Crawford trade. He said he was hoping the Warriors were his chance to finally show what he can do. So far, not so good. According to several Warriors staffers in attendance for summer league, Law is not in the best of shape and seems to be lacking confidence. He's shown his ability to pass and court vision — he's found forward Anthony Randolph in transition on several occasions — but he's hardly done enough to make anyone believe he'll be competing for playing time this coming season. The Warriors have the option of picking up the fourth year of Law's rookie contract (2010-11). But that seems unlikely at this point considering his lack of production and the fact he's most valuable to the Warriors as a $2.2 million expiring contract."

Well, shoot if that doesn't sound like the Acie Law of the last two years. Now, Golden State is no model franchise, and this is just summer league we are talking about (not even a finished summer league), and they just drafted Stephen Curry and could easily be doing exactly what we did to Acie here, but I long used Acie as an example of how once Woodson lost the safety net of failure and expectations began to have the word "playoffs" in them our coach stopped even allowing young talent to develop naturally.

But maybe, just maybe, Acie Law is not that good. Maybe Woodson could have given him more playing time and he could have become good, but it is hard to convince a man who has a job on the line to play a young guy so the coach that takes over the team after Woodson is fired takes over a better, deeper team. Most humans cannot follow that logic without a deep lack of self worth.

I hope Acie Law becomes a very good player. He would not be the first point guard to blossom after his second or third team. However, as of now, I can admit at least in this case, I could not see the forest for the trees and with a little perspective, those DNPs for Acie Law may be a little more forgivable.