Wittman Doubts Foye?

Wolves coach Randy Wittman has three options at point guard — Randy Foye, Marko Jaric and Telfair. Wittman wants to use Foye more as an off-guard and scorer, and Jaric lost the point guard job two years ago, although he does offer defense at the position.

Telfair is the Wolves’ only pure point guard, their only open-court jitterbug. “It’s all up to Sebastian,” Wittman said. “The opportunity is there.”

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Can Sebastian Telfair lead the new look T’Wolves? [image2]

The above quotes were uttered by Minnesota Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman, as reported by Jim Souhan in today’s Star Tribune. 

[cw] What exactly does this mean?  Is it simply “coach-speak” from Wittman, loosely translated to “We’ll be giving Sebastian a chance.”  Or, could it mean more?  Is he implying that Randy Foye will not be our primary point guard, logging more minutes at off-guard?  If that truly is the case, does that mean he’ll be giving Sebastian Telfair a chance to run the point for our young Wolves squad?

 Personally, I think our Front Office has realized that Randy Foye just isn’t the solution to playing point guard full time.  Perhaps they have finally realized that Foye will be better able to play to his strengths when he doesn’t have the responsibility and pressure of running the offense weighing on his shoulders.  Not too toot my own horn (ok… I will, who am I kidding?)  but I’ve been saying since the day we drafted Foye that he should in no way be our primary point guard.  It should be obvious to anyone that has seen him play in college and his first season in the NBA: Randy Foye is more suited to play shooting (or off-guard), rather than point guard.  The sooner our Front Office realizes this and stops trying to force him into being our full time point guard, the better.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that he should never run the point, but I firmly believe he has a better chance to fully realize his potential playing off the point.  At best he’s maybe a combo guard, but I would nurture his ability to slash to the hoop and finish in traffic.  His on the ball defense is average, and I’ll reiterate again that he just doesn’t look comfortable playing point guard full time.  There is too much stagnation and lack of ball movement.  I think Foye could flourish playing shooting guard, and hopefully that is what Wittman meant in his aforementioned quote.

 So, if Foye isn’t going to be playing point guard, who is?  Did Wittman mean that he’ll be giving Sebastion a chance to be our starting point guard?  I’m not yet sure how I feel about that.  On one hand, I am completely behind moving Foye to SG.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d want Sebastian “Telfailure” to assume starting point guard duties.  I could see this experiment coming together due to a broad stroke of luck and flourishing, or completely bomb altogether and erode any semblence of offense this young squad is able to muster.

Is there any hope for Sebastian Telfair to become a starting point guard in this league?  Maybe eventually.  I’m not sure if he is capable at this stage in his career.  For some reason that I am yet to fathom, Coach Doc Rivers started him the first 30 games last season for the Boston Celtics. How did he do?  Somewhere between terrible and god awful.  I don’t think that was completely Sebastian’s fault, as it often appeared that Doc had no idea what he was doing while “coaching” some of those games.  The offense he was forced to run was completely opposite of the type of environment that Telfair could possibly hope to flourish in.  I can’t believe Doc Rivers even remotely thought that Telfair could flourish in a “walk  it up and hand off” offense that operated primarily in half court sets.  Telfair needs to be in a wide open spread and run offense, where has he chances to dish to cut cutters, or drive to the lane and kick it out for open shots.  With the young horses the Wolves will be running this year, I think we’ve got a chance to instill an offense like such.  That would be a joy to watch, a refreshing change of pace around the Target Center.  We’ve certainly got the athletes: Telfair at point, Foye and Gerald Green at shooting guard, Brewer and Ricky Davis at the small forward, Gomes and Craig Smith at power forward, and Al Jefferson at center.  That would be one hell of an athletic and up-tempo offense.  I’m getting excited just thinking about it.  And with all the young talent the Wolves have, they have a plethora of options form which they can sub in, depending on the nightly matchups, and who’s hot or cold.

Another thing Telfair needs to help him succeed in this league is a veteran point guard to mentor him.  That’s one thing the Wolves are obviously currently lacking.  Someone like Derek Fisher, Chucky Atkins, Brevin Knight, or even Steve Blake could have been potential players to fit this role.  Unfortunately, we will NOT be signing any of the above and will have to make due.  Sebastion has been involved in a substantial amount of legal trouble throughout his young career in both Portland and Boston.  He certainly contributed to writing his own one way ticket out of both those cities.  So can he change?  He seems like a nice young man, from what I saw during Tuesday’s press conference.  He says he wants to try to do well and not blow this opportunity.  Do I believe him?  Yes, I do.  I think he probably knows this is most likely his last shot to prolong his NBA career.  Do I think he can reform and succeed?  Maybe.  He’s still young, and who hasn’t done some dumb stuff in their early years?  He’d have infinitely better odds to succeed if we had a veteran to mentor him, but we don’t.  I think if Wittman doesn’t relegate him to the dog house, and we play an uptempo, wide open offense, Sebastion could have a legitimate shot at turning his game (and career) around.

One major problem with Telfair playing major minutes, is his ability (or lack thereof) in regards to playing defense.  He was absolutely horrendous last year.  I don’t know if it is because he’s just too small, or if he just doesn’t exert the energy.  Last season he couldn’t stay in front of his man if his life depended on it.  The Wolves have had a string of terrible defensive point guards for a while, and playing Telfair would do nothing to change that. Until he can even learn to play semi-decent defense, I am not sure he’s a viable option to log major minutes at the point for this team.   Wittman needs to instill a defense orientated culture that all our young guys need to adhere to.  Wittman should not allow major playing time to anyone if they will not at least exert the effort on the defensive end.

What would I do?  I’d definitely like to move Foye to shooting guard.  Perhaps play him 10 or so minutes at point each game.  However, I don’t know if it’s worth it to move him to shooting guard if Telfair is our only other option to start at point guard.  We won’t be signing any free agents, as owner Glen Taylor said.  Even if he wanted to, our roster is already over the league maximum anyways.  Maybe Telfair will turn it around and realize the potential he had coming out of high school.  I don’t know and can’t say for sure, but if he can show some propensity to run an uptempo attack and plays within his means, I’d definitely give him a chance to start at point guard, with Randy Foye becoming his running mate in the backcourt.  Can Sebastian reform and turn his game around?  You never know, weirder things have happened.

CW

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