The point dear Bill is trying to make here is one to heed. You can’t expect a being, an entity, that you know to be one thing, to react in such a way as another. If you come across a copperhead below a ridge, you don’t expect it to cuddle up to you and ask for affection. It’s not a puppy. It’s a copperhead. But because NBA coaches have about as much respect for rookies as they do for bloggers, it’s commonplace to take on a young player and expect him to be something wholly different from what he actually is.
We have to let killers be killers, as it were.
Like, oh, say, Tyreke Evans. Or as I like to call him, the Man-O-War. The Evans v. Rubio is a curious debate, centered around two different spheres of hype. I tend to side with the 6-6 superfreak with length, athleticism, and the ability to get to the basket whenever he damn well chooses. But hey, lots of people like the Jonas Brother, too. To analyze the choice between the two, though, is to find that debate that anchors itself to basketball fanaticism, no matter how hard we try and shake free of it. Pure point vs. Combo guard.
The argument usuallypresents itself as that Evans is a unique player, with tremendous physical ability, natural scorer’s instincts, and a terrific ability to attack the rim (and most importantly, finish there, something lacking in many rookies). He’s not even particularly dogged as a passer. He’s just not a pure point, able to see angles no one else can see, alley oops no one else can oop. And somehow that makes him less of a game-changer, despite his ability to score, rebound, and defend (in time).
Last year, I pulled my hair out, trying to understand why people referred to Rose as a pure point. Did anyone watch his game this year? Did you come to that conclusion? In the playoffs, he attacked the basket, relentlessly. He wasn’t whipping full court bounce passes . He can pass, don’t get me wrong, and if Noah would keep trying that alley oop, they’d be a lot more succesful. But a pure point he is not. And Evans? Not as fast or as purely talented, but what he lacks in skill, he makes up for in athletic prowess. So why try and force him to become a pure point? Why lament over his ability to run the offense. We’re not talking Ben Gordon here.
So you’ve got Kevin Martin. So what? You don’t have a longterm plan, angling for a championship. You’re trying to not suck. Let the killer kill. Even more egregious of course is the Jerryd Bayless hate crime. Nate McMillan has targeted Jerryd Bayless specifically because he’s a scoring combo guard. And that my friends, is unfair. At summer league last year, Bayless lit it up. And when asked about it, McMillan yawned, claiming basically that they have a scoring 2 guard, his name is Brandon Roy, and if Bayless doewn’t learn to play the pure point, he’s not going to play. Which is fine, you have needs. That’s understandable. But can we ask a question?
WHY THE HELL DID YOU TRADE FOR A ROOKIE WHO’S A NATURAL SCORER WHO’S NOT PROJECTED TO BE A PURE POINT?!!! It’s not just the set of skills these players could have wasted in the pursuit of molding them into something they’re not. It’s a waste of their natural demeanors, which are valuable in and of themselves. For example, I was caught by Bayless even before he was drafted. In an interview with Dime, he stated he wanted to destroy his opponent. Evans has issues with missing a meaningless Summer League game. You can have those guys on your side, or across the line. I want them on my side.
The knock comes on the turnovers, but they’re both young players. The one thing you expect them to do is turn the ball over. They’ll grow out of it. And as they do, you’ll have the explosiveness, the assassin-mentality, the intensity, and the God given ability. But you have to let them be what they are. It’s not a matter of crushing creativity or limiting freedom. It’s about trying to take a player’s natural tendencies and perverting them in the name of science. Don’t play God with your Combo Guards.