After a day of hysteria on the KG front, the dust has settled to a degree. With the Big Ticket’s status no longer in question for this series, our attention must now turn to his replacements for these playoffs, Glen Davis and Leon Powe. Doc has not announced who he plans to start at PF in the starting lineup for this series but the smart money has to be on Glen Davis for a couple of reasons.
First, Glen has played over 360 minutes with the starting unit compared to just 101 minutes for Leon. This comes largely as a result of Powe’s knee injury the past month, which forced Big Baby into heavy starting minutes, being one of only three healthy big men on the C’s roster.
It is evident Glen has gotten comfortable with this unit, and with Leon just returning from his knee injury earlier this week, I can’t see Doc throwing him into the fire in just his 3rd game back. In addition, at this point Powe’s play on the floor is likely more needed with the bench unit, who without Leon lack a real offensive post and rebounding presence as Mikki Moore fails to do either well. Meanwhile, Big Baby adds a nice shooting threat to the starting five, replacing the skill set of Kevin Garnett better than Leon could in that respect.
Given this, while Big Baby likely will see the start in these games, Leon is the one I want in there at crunch time with the starters. Though Powe has played less than the starters this year, the unit is better than Davis’ in almost every statistical category in almost every statistical category including points scored and allowed per possession as well as total winning percentage for the unit. Grant it, it’s a smaller sample size, but the difference is still drastic enough to be noticeable.
When you look at the two players individually in almost every statistical category, the situation becomes even more clear than Leon Powe is the more useful player. Powe gets more points, rebounds better, gets to the line more and shoots better from the field, all while averaging four fewer minutes than Big Baby every game. The rebounding opportunities will be especially crucial in this Chicago series as the Bulls rank 28th in the league in defensive rebounding.
Looking at it from a defensive perspective, if you don’t call it a wash, I would give Leon the edge here too. Yesterday in his column, Bob Ryan questioned Powe’s defense as a weakness compared to Big Baby’s. Here’s the quote:
Powe is well-established as a walking double-double waiting to happen. The biggest difference between the two is that Baby has at least grasped the basic concept of the vital defensive rotations from the beginning, whereas Leon still has a way of getting lost.
I respect Bob Ryan’s opinion as much as anyone, but the numbers and the results don’t back him up here. Powe has a better defensive rating than Big Baby (103-102) and the team as I mentioned earlier performs pretty much even if not better when he is on floor defensively in comparison to Big Baby. I feel like Leon has made huge strides in his defense this year, playing effectively for stretches against stars like Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki before he got hurt.
Plus, there is no one better on this team at rotating to take charges. I don’t know the numbers but I would bet the house AND the farm that Leon leads this team in charges taken…..or if nothing else is leading Big Baby quite handily in that category. Taking all of this into account I give Leon the edge on D.
No matter your opinion of these two, this team will not be going anywhere this postseason without consistent production from both of these soon to be free agents. They both have their strengths and flaws but no matter who plays with what unit, both will have to play to their capabilities for this team to make to the Eastern Conference Finals. Push comes to shove though, as much as Big Baby has improved this past month or two, Leon is the guy I want to go to war with when it counts.
I’m extremely curious to see what everyone else’s opinion is on this as well so I like to do a bit of an unofficial poll. Let me know who you would rather see a) starting and b) playing at crunch time out of these two.
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