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The lure of what's new: Dallas and the PG steeplechase


There was a Timberwolves fan who snuck in here once upon a time (last season) to mention that he figured Ricky Rubio's return to the Wolves would have more impact than Dirk's return to the Mavericks.

I offered my own opinion in return which was that regardless of other factors---such as the fact that Rubio's shooting percentage has yet to exceed 36% from the floor-it seemed like the balance of likelihood hovered more in the neighborhood of a decade-long mainstay, a year and a half off from one of the great playoff performances of all time, would have slightly more effect than a guy who had yet to play his 50th NBA game.

This turned out (who could believe it) to be true. Rubio offered a respectable 10.7-73, even grabbing 2.4 steals a game. The Wolves, after his December 15th return, went 16-39. Meanwhile, after Dirk's return on December 23rd, the Mavericks went 28-25, and if you calculate from January 10th, the first day Dirk broke the 35 minute barrier, they were 27-17. Since, on Dec 23rd, the Mavericks were 12-16 and the Wolves were 13-11, I probably proved my point.

There is nothing unique or even untoward in the excitement young talent engenders. Hyperbole is how we talk about the young guys. To stay on the Timberwolves, you give Kevin Love 2011-2012 and half the league agrees he's better than Dirk, Finals MVP five minutes before or no. Then 2012-2013 happens and it's a little more...well....

Here in Dallas, we're not immune. Nobody is. Nobody disagreed with Cuban when he said Roddy was untouchable a few years ago. A current example might be Yu Darvish. I LOVE Yu Darvish. Even got him on my fantasy team. But a month ago, I literally read an article about how Yu is better than Justin Verlander. Yu, who, by the way, has given up 3 or more runs in 6 of his last 8 starts.

And it's because Yu is a shiny new car. He has that talent, for sure, and some day might be tomorrow, it might be in a month. But the "new news" is the breath and blood of the legend. It's the iceberg. There is more to be seen than has been seen and what has been seen is beautiful. Ergo...

But overall, ergo has a less than .500 batting average, sadly. And the other thing is, as basketball repeatedly shows, old things last, in many cases,, a lot longer than you think. The Spurs were supposed to be done a while ago, certainly two years ago when they lost to the Grizz in the first round.

The difference in rosters between the guys who played in the last game of the first round loss to Memphis two years ago and the team that beat the Heat in game one the other day is this: They got rid of Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and George Hill and got Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw.

Other than that, it's Duncan, Parker, Manu, Splitter, Green, Neal, Ginobili. Green and Splitter are a lot better than they were. You and I, watching the Spurs trade George Hill for Kawhi Leonard, would not have figured that to be a championship move.

Meanwhile the Boston Celtics, who were also supposed to have been dead a long, long time ago, were tied after six games and three quarters with the purportedly invincible Heat just last year.

What's the point?

Well, the point, my droogs, is that you're going to read a lot of stuff in these next few years about how good guys like Eric Bledsoe (23) and Jeff Teague (24) are. And why not? Not only are they pretty good already, there are hints and murmurs of more. I don't know anything, either could be amazing.

But sometimes, too, things are what they look like they are already. To many, it felt like a huge coup to get a guy who had been the Pacers starting PG, then a valuable backup PG AND a lockdown defender like Dahntay Jones for the Mavericks' third string point guard. It seemed like a huge coup to get OJ Mayo for under 5 million dollars-for that matter, to get Odom for a trade exception.

I picked these two guys because there's the feeling about them that, whether toiling in obscurity or hidden behind the greatest PG in the game, they're hidden gems, smart fans' favorites, who haven't been given the chance to show their stuff. But more often than not, in the NBA, discounts have pretty good reasons.

You can look at Bledsoe's 8.5 and 3.1 backing up the best PG in the league, or Teague's 14.6 and 7.2 in his first year as a starting point in the Association, and you can dream. But, Bledsoe's per 36 numbers are just 15 and 5, their PERs were both around 17, solid but unspectacular.

Their TS%s, 54% for Teague, 51% for Bledsoe, were pretty low for point guards, with Teague finishing 27th at the position and Bledsoe 50th. In "Estimated Wins added", Teague fell behind Goran Dragic, whom Mark Cuban recently panned as not having enough to make a significant difference, and Bledsoe finished just behind Jeremy Line, Ramon Sessions, Jarret Jack-and our own Darren Collison. Teague was 21st in assist percentage, and did not make it in the top 50 in turnover ratio while Bledsoe didn't make it on either list. Mike James, by the way, was 43rd in turnover ratio and 26th in assist ratio.

None of this is to say there's nothing there, for these guys, or for other young players. Who knows what direction things will go? Each is talented, each would likely be a step up from what happened last year.

It is only to say that "young" glitters, "new" shines, and one must be careful not to be blinded.