View Full Version : The Need for Speed

05-22-2008, 09:38 AM
When David Harrison was drafted, Larry Bird said, "You can't teach size." Harrison was an attractive pick at 29 just because he was a buffalo. (Thanks to SIG, ajbry and Hicks for keeping me honest.)

Is it also sensible to say, "You can't teach speed and/or lateral quickness?"

It is common to say a team should draft the best athlete available. But athletes come in all shapes and sizes.

My question is, shouldn't a team that got beat off the dribble as often as the Pacers did last season be defining "best athlete" primarily in terms of speed? Wouldn't a faster player or two enable us to run the O'Brien defense more effectively?

The Westbrook / Augustin thread touches on this, but the speed question isn't limited only to those two potential recruits.

05-22-2008, 09:52 AM
David wasn't drafted at 17... #29.

05-22-2008, 09:54 AM
I thought Hulk was the last pick of the first round, not #17?

I see your overall point, but if you're a losing team and need immediate help - you need to draft capable players who have tangible basketball skills moreso than just athletic ability. You don't have to be a premier athlete to be an excellent defender (just look at who the best swingman defenders are, for instance) or to run an offense efficiently and intelligently.

Speed - in this case - would be a nice bonus but ideally you want a player strong enough to hold his own and fast enough to beat a press and get out on the break. Really fast point guards can't escape their flaws because of their speed - look at T.J. Ford, Earl Boykins, and Speedy Claxton - all of them are fast relative to average PGs yet none of them can actually run an offense.

05-22-2008, 09:55 AM
I'd say it'd be a fair statement re: speed/quickness.

I was initially thinking "well, you can teach players some little things to compensate for a lack of speed/quickness," but then again you can also teach players to play bigger than they are, so it goes both ways.

Currently my "Big 3" of things you can't teach, but would love to see in a player on your team are size, speed/quickness, and length.

As for us, I thought the Pacers got beat off the dribble much more in 2006-07 than they did in 2007-08. What happened though was the D was so concerned about that, that we gave up a lot more open jumpshots. Speed would still help, though. Either in not needing as much help if the speed is in a PG, or in recovering more quickly if the wings get faster.

Harrison was picked #29, by the way.

05-22-2008, 10:42 AM
As for us, I thought the Pacers got beat off the dribble much more in 2006-07 than they did in 2007-08. What happened though was the D was so concerned about that, that we gave up a lot more open jumpshots. Speed would still help, though. Either in not needing as much help if the speed is in a PG, or in recovering more quickly if the wings get faster.

I agree with you comparing '07 with '08.

Pacers desparately need more speed - at all 5 positions.

One of the most underrated things (and one huge reason the Pacers were such a good defensive team in '04) is having quick and mobile big guys. That is why I loved the combo of Jeff and JO back then defensively, they could help out on the pick and rolls - which is by far the most important play to defend in the NBA. And that is why I have been so strongly against the "big bruising" center type of player. You don't need it - unless they have great quickness. (watching the Spurs abuse the Suns on the pick and rolls just proves the point)

05-22-2008, 10:47 AM
I'll avoid acting like this is referencing me directly. :)

However, yes thats a common saying, you can't teach (insert physical attribute), but it can't just be that, unless its track or bench press or whatever.

Look at the Quintin Coryatt, guy had all the numbers to dominate, he didn't, couldn't. Look at TJ Ford, super fast, but still limited. There is a million examples.

It goes back to guys maximizing to their potential, which has been said before doesn't happen.

The perfect storm is when you have an phenominal athlete who reaches his best, then you have MJ, I guess.

It's funny because directly related to the Pacers is you had smart craft players who went to the Finals in 2000, then they had trouble with long multiple position super athletic players that lead a conscience movement to Bender and then you had the Zeke teams that was really athletic, but not very smart. Now you have smart players, mostly, but not enough of them, and the ones that are, are limited.

It's just interesting is you can get fast/quick guys, but if they are going to run REALLY REALLY fast to the wrong spot, then it does ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD.

If you have a 6'10" 270 lbs crazy strong, dope smoking guy from Colorado, who bowls people over and then is on the verge of a multiple State Dry Erase Board killing spree, then whats the point....

I mean this, you can't win without talent, but you can't win with ONLY talent.

05-22-2008, 10:59 AM
In the "How many PFs are better than Ike" thread I said this just a few days ago...

I saw him (Hibbert) play about 7-8 times and not only can you not teach 7'3", you apparently can't teach quickness and speed either.


You can't discount physical attributes, but you should only consider them as they apply to how the player relies on them or could REASONABLY be taught to rely on them.

Bender's height, totally wasted inside. And that also leads to another aspect which is that sometimes another attribute cancels the first one out (such as height vs weight for a post game).

Let's talk Love vs May for a second. My concern with May coming out was that he used his ability to push guys off the block as his means to score, but you knew that he didn't have enough size to do that at the next level. Now in his defense he actually developed his game away from that which has potentially given him real staying power if he returns healthy.

The reason I don't worry about Love's height/reach is because he doesn't use it. Certainly he will stand firm on the defensive block, but he simply does not play above the rim. So it won't matter if he suddenly faces guys taller than him or even a bit stronger than him. At least it seems that way.

This is why I hate the "can't teach" defense. If the attribute isn't utilized anyway, or if it won't apply at the NBA level because it's not enough then who cares if he has it or not.

DJ - not quick enough to live on quickness in the NBA

Collison - is quick enough to live on quickness

Collison is not a better PG than DJ, but to me unless DJ changes something he's going to struggle while Collison will be able to keep on using his dribble drive as a go-to. No court vision of course, but that's already his game.

I thought the Pacers got beat off the dribble much more in 2006-07 than they did in 2007-08
Technically, but only because of the strategy to fix individuals getting beat. They trapped hard and shut out easier PnR options, but this resulted in endless open weakside jumpers from the baseline corner (or the blow-by drive on a hard close out). If you have the speed to hold guys up then you don't have to trap as hard and that pushes on through to your rotations being easier.

05-22-2008, 11:17 AM
Hicks... you are dead on. We were so worried about getting beat off the dribble because there was nobody in the post to challenge shots. Our perimeter defense wasn't nearly as fundamentally bad as people think, considering our COMPLETE lack of a shot blocking presence. Foster was the only guy willing to put someone on their *** but we were so concerned with foul trouble between he and Harrison, he had to play less aggressive on defense. Murphy is a complete defensive liability. If you notice a lot of our troubles this year were when a team had guys shooting the lights out. See Jason Kapono from Toronto. People think our perimeter defense is terrible, but if you are going to have a hole in your defense make sure its guys shooting deeper shots. Our perimeter defense had to collapse to help so much because of the lack of help defense on the interior and thus it allowed teams to beat us shooting the ball. I really think we were exposed without JO out of the floor. Harrison pissed me off because the guy can play some good defense in the post, but he just wasn't disciplined enough defending and then made things worse with his big mouth. If he can just settle down a little bit, by not pressuring himself so much Harrison can be a very good player for us. He's a competitor and I like his fire. It is something this team needs more of, however it needs to be channeled positively. I will probably get ripped for my thoughts on him, but I think it would be a mistake to let him go. I think we can have a very good team defense. We just need a shot blocking presence. I wish Murphy could improve his defense, because when he started putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the rim, I went from a complete hater to a believer with a defensive asterisk. Shawne Williams will be a terrific defender. I think a lineup with Granger at SG and Williams at SF can be as good defensively on the wings as any duo in the league.

05-22-2008, 11:27 AM
pacergod2 - I agree with much of what you are saying, but the perimeter defense was bad also. But then I am one who thinks point guard defense is the most important defensive position.

The Pacers defensive philosphy was much different this past season as Seth mentioned. The Celts play a very similar style - but just much, much better. They cut off the lane at all costs and once that is done, then we fan out and try to challenge jump shots

05-22-2008, 12:23 PM
Our defense from the PG was miserable I absolutely agree. I don't like Deiner for that reason alone. You shouldn't ever turn the ball over if you can't stop anybody on defense, so he's a backup at best. Tinsley epitomized laziness on the defensive end. He is a big point guard who doesn't get taken advantage of by guys like Billups, which helped him not get exposed as much, but you can't have a lazy player on your team in the NBA. That just reeks of under-performance and poor team attitude. And I really liked Flip's aggressiveness and desire to play, which made him a decent defender. I just don't know that he is capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA in the long term. I guess my point originally was our perimeter defense wasn't nearly as bad as people think. Not that I thought it was that good.

05-22-2008, 01:51 PM
You actually can teach speed and quickness.

The problem is that each individual person has a different aspect on what's quick or not.

Performance companies, like all the recruits are working at, work on all of it. Some people react better others not, and some are closer to their ceilings than others.

You can't turn Love into Karl Malone, with regards to their ability to run the floor, but you can definately improve those areas in everyone.

05-22-2008, 02:13 PM
You actually can teach speed and quickness.

I was wondering when someone would bring that up...

05-22-2008, 02:42 PM
I don't think that we can draft on need so much. Although we are to the point where we really should not take another wing player with Dunleavy, Danny, and Shawne.

Westbrook's physical tools is great. However it's the other things I read about him that I like such as he is coachable, his work ethic, etc. I don't think he will be a star but a solid starter/6th man yes for sure.

Slick Pinkham
05-22-2008, 02:59 PM
You also can't teach desire, intensity, work ethic, and coachability.

Sure you can "beat it in to them" or "hope they grow up"

but like rommie I like the fact that Westbrook supposedly has these assets along with freakish athleticism.

Whether it's in the draft or not, I want solid perimeter defense on this team.