Debating the Resurrection of Jesus (Shuttlesworth, that is) | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Debating the Resurrection of Jesus (Shuttlesworth, that is)

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Updated: February 11, 2015

[Ray Allen, truly a senior now.]

[Ray Allen, truly a senior now.]

DEBATE! Ray Allen is apparently, maybe, deciding whether he will be on the NBA free agent market. Maybe he’s narrowed his list down to seven teams, including (certainly in no particular order) Washington, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, Miami, Golden State, and the L.A. Clippers. Maybe, per other reports, Allen has narrowed down his list of ‘suitors’ to anywhere between zero and 30 teams. No one really knows aside that it’s probably definitely likely (maybe, perhaps) that the NBA’s all-time 3-point shooter will lace them up once again and add to his total of 2,973 career regular season 3-pointers.

But is 39-year-old Ray Allen right for the Washington Wizards?

TAI’s Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) and Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace) are here to debate.

Let’s start it…

 


The Case Against Ray Allen

by Sean Fagan.

In perhaps one of the more surprising developments of the past week, the Washington Wizards were announced as one of the shortlisted suitors for the talents of Ray Allen, who announced he would be making his “Decision” shortly after the All-Star break. That the Wizards are on the shortlist of any coveted free agent, even one whose remarkable skills had finally appeared to deteriorate with age, is the surprising part. The signing of Paul Pierce and the courting of one 2016 free agent (who shall remain nameless) have put the Wizards in the enviable position of being a “team that matters,” while also offering free agents a quicker trip to the NBA Finals in the lowly Eastern Conference rather than attempting to survive the brutal West.

The most likely scenario is that Allen will sign with the Cavaliers, reuniting LeBron James and a cadre of ex-Miami Heat players, an outcome made even more likely by the Cavs’ recent win streak. (This was the case until LeBron’s penchant for passive aggressively tweeting about his teammates got the better of him and became a national story. But, love is love.) Allen’s other palatable options include the two darlings of the NBA: the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, both of whom have enjoyed more recent success than the sputtering Wizards. After trading Adreian Payne to the Minnesota Timberwloves, the Hawks suddenly, conveniently, have room on their roster for Allen.

But should the Wizards “win” the Ray Allen sweepstakes, would it be the best move for the team? Most signs point towards “no.” The talents that Allen brings to any team at his age (superior 3-point shooting) are less than useless to a Wizards offense predicated on long 2-pointers and shots near the basket (though his midrange J is better than those of most of his would-be Wizards teammates). Allen could provide the spacing that John Wall thrives upon, but his defensive liabilities are such that the Wizards would essentially be playing 4 on 5 with Wall and others having to work twice as hard to cover for Allen’s lack of speed and mobility. (Googling “Ray Allen defense” is not going to bring up the kindest of words from either Celtics or Heat pundits.)

So if Allen is out of the picture, where does that leave the Wizards, who waived Glen Rice Jr. for this vaunted roster flexibility? They could go the way of noted Wizard killer Will Bynum (currently of the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association; the season will end soon) to soak up some minutes. They could look to the D-League and crush the dreams of another aspiring NBA player (Jabari Brown, Seth Curry). They could even go cruising for other options in the China (whither Jordan Crawford?) market to see if there is a desperate ex-pat shooting guard just itching to hop on the first plane back to the District.

These are all viable options but point to the “age” old problem and pattern that the Wizards keep repeating—that they plaster over roster deficiencies and the ability to develop young talent by constantly relying on Ernie Grunfeld to pull another rabbit out his hat from the retread market. They gave up on Glen Rice, are unsure if Otto Porter will ever become the hybrid 2/3 they need, and now once again they find themselves kicking the tires at the used car lot, hoping to purchase something that doesn’t break down a mile after you drive it off the lot.

Despite the ascendance of John Wall and the stop/start development of Bradley Beal, the Wizards are old. The problem with age in the NBA is that the curve of talent, even if you are Paul Pierce, descends ever downward. Drew Gooden came in last year and provided valuable bench scoring, but his renaissance was short-lived, and he is now pinned to the bench. The boatloads of pixels on Rasual Butler are contorting, because an elderly NBA journeyman is not meant to take on the burdens the Wizards have asked of him. Father Time has even come for Andre Miller, shuttering PGU. Signing Ray Allen would just be another sign of the Wizards throwing up their hands and admitting their total failure to foster youth. Meanwhile, Glen Rice Jr. continues to burn incandescently in the D-League.

Update: It appears that Bradley Beal’s sore toe has revealed itself as a stress reaction. I’m patently certain that the the aged body of Ray Allen can take the same accumulated stress of being a starting NBA shooting guard.


The Case For Ray Allen

by Adam Rubin.

I will begin with the most obvious point: John Wall is the best point guard in the NBA at setting up 3-point shooters. With the possible exception of Reggie Miller, Ray Allen is the greatest player in the history of the NBA at moving off-the-ball to create 3-point shots. Wall has made Rasual Butler, Trevor Ariza, and Martell Webster look like all-time great shooters. Imagine what he could do for the actual all-time greatest 3-point shooter?

You say Allen does not fit into Randy Wittman’s midrange-or-bust offense? That’s a good thing. You can stop a young Kevin Love from shooting 3-pointers and you can encourage Bradley Beal to take 20-foot pull-up jumpers, but there is no way in hell you can stop Ray Allen from running around the court and taking 3-pointers.

Allen’s presence would force Wittman to acknowledge the 3-point shot as an important part of the offense—at least when Allen is on the floor. I am sure Ray would have no problem installing one or two offensive sets that include baseline screens and other off-the-ball movement designed to free him up from beyond the arc. Maybe after seeing all the open space created when defenses panic at the thought of leaving Allen open, Wittman will incorporate similar movement into Beal’s offensive sets. A guy can dream. Speaking of Beal…

What could be better for his development than a four-month apprenticeship under Ray Allen? Admittedly, this is not my top rationale. If Allen does come back to the NBA, he would be chasing another ring, not running an NBA mentoring program. But even if Allen is not interested in tutoring an heir apparent, there is no better education on using picks, exploiting defensive lapses, and creating shooting space, than chasing Ray Allen around in practice every day.

You argue that Allen is a liability on defense. That is true. But none of the other spark plug bench scorers who may or may not be available, like Will Bynum, Gary Neal, and Nate Robinson, play defense, either. Even guys like D.J. Augustin (who played that role well for Chicago in the playoffs last year and is now filling in for the injured Brandon Jennings in Detroit) are routinely exploited on defense. That’s just part of the equation. If these guys were complete players, they’d likely not be so “available.”

I recognize there is an opportunity cost to signing Allen. The question is not Allen vs. leaving the final roster spot open. It is Allen vs. whoever else is available. This leads me to the con that troubles me the most—and it is one that you, Sean, did not (at least directly) mention. Should Washington even sign a shooting guard? The team’s biggest need is a backup point guard. Wall needs rest. He has carried the team all season and if he is required to continue at this pace for a full 82 games, he may not have enough left in the tank for a long playoff run that will require even more minutes than he already plays. The time to rest Wall is now—during the doldrums of the regular season—so that he can handle 40-plus minutes per night in the playoffs.

Shouldn’t the number one criterion for any roster addition be the ability to provide 10-to-15 minutes per game of up-tempo point guard play? Wall seems to think so. But I’m not here to talk myself out of signing Ray Allen, and I have no confidence in Ernie Grunfeld finding a suitable backup point guard unless Earl Boykins or Antonio Daniels stumble upon the wayback machine.

Life is a game of chances. If Washington is faced with a final possession down two or three points, I would be infinitely more confident with a lineup of Wall, Allen, Beal, Pierce, and Nene walking onto the court than any lineup combination that includes Webster, Butler, Porter, or Temple. I will sacrifice a little defense for vastly improved crunch-time scoring. I’ll take my chances with the greatest shooter of all time. You can have Will Bynum.

Having said that, if Allen chooses to go elsewhere (or nowhere at all), Washington should immediately turn all of its attention to relieving the tremendous weight on Wall’s back.


VOTE!

 

Sean Fagan on FacebookSean Fagan on Twitter
Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.