Backing Up the Point

Friday, December 23, 2011
By Jon Newberry

Overall, it has been a relatively quiet training camp in Atlanta… which is a good thing.

With the core of the team returning and a pair of key additions signed the day that camp opened, nearly everyone’s role on the team has been clear. The lone exception is the back-up point guard position…

The situation was complicated last weekend when Coach Drew and his staff were looking at Donald Sloan, Brad Wanamaker and Pape Sy to serve as Jeff Teague’s back-up while Kirk Hinrich continues to rehab his shoulder after offseason surgery. Then things progressively escalated this week:
Tuesday: Jannero Pargo is signed by the Hawks, probably making him the frontrunner to land the role.
Wednesday: Jeff Teague rolls his left ankle in practice, heightening the urgency to add quality backcourt depth.
Thursday: Hawks sign Willie Green, bringing the total number of candidates to five.

Each player brings a distinct skill set to the table, so let’s take a closer look at each player’s strength:

He has seven years of pro experience, meaning he shouldn’t have any of the “growing pains” that Sloan, Wanamaker and Sy may experience. From the limited action we have seen since he joined the team on Tuesday, Pargo looks to be the best spot up shooter of the bunch, but he isn’t great at creating his own shot or getting into the lane.

Jannero also has a good relationship with Joe Johnson who he played with for one year at Arkansas and spent the offseason working out with in Miami.

Sloan is very shifty and quick and has shown decent playmaking ability in this shortened training camp. While he hasn’t played an official NBA game, he has played a full year as a pro in the D-League and overseas. Check out this highlight from a short stint he had playing pro ball in the Philippines:

Wanamaker may be the best playmaker in the bunch and has made some of the nicer passes of the preseason. He had a great career at Pitt and really emerged as an NBA prospect his senior year. He is not a lightweight guard and should have no problem bodying up with the bigger PGs in the league.

Green is more of an undersized 2 than a point guard, but could be used at the 1 in emergencies. He has eight years of NBA experience under his belt and averaged double-figures in two of his seasons with the Sixers. The fact that he is probably a better fit at the 2 shouldn’t be viewed as a mark against him. His perimeter scoring ability off the bench may be exactly what the team is looking for at this point as the season nears.

Pape split time between the Hawks and their D-League affiliate (the now defunct Utah Flash) last season and has turned some heads this year with the progress he has made. He is extremely athletic and has shown the ability to get to the rim and to the free throw line.

Pape’s biggest asset at this point of his development may be his ability to defend. He has been guarding Joe at times during scrimmages and is able to hold his own. He may turn out to be much more of a shooting guard in the long run, but with the Hawks thin at PG right now, Coach Drew is giving him a long look.

Opening night rosters must be submitted on Christmas Eve (Saturday), so we should hear the final verdict fairly soon. Stay tuned to for the announcement of any roster moves.

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