Henry Abbott on taking responsibility for the team

By Jason Wojciechowski on February 5, 2009 at 6:01 AM

I utterly disagree with this. Nobody's ever accused Webber of being a guy who cared about his own production, about being a good player, instead of being about winning. And I think that fact undermines the entire point made by Abbott. The fact remains that if your teammates cannot get you the ball, you might be a great player, but if you're a post-man, what kind of responsibility can you take? Should Webber have demanded that he be the one to initiate the offense, that he should be dribble-driving his from the top of the key? That hurts the team, because that's not his game.

I think it's key to note that Abbott's examples are defensive. It's easy to say that Webber should have take the responsibility of closing out shooters. It's easy to say that Webber should have taken the responsibility of picking up the slack on the boards because his centers were bad players. But can you really argue that Webber had anything he could do on offense if his guards blew?

Moreover, Abbott's argument misses the fact of how much harder a player has it when he's the only good player on a team. If you're facing a team with only one good rebounder, you assign that player's man to focus only on boxing that man out, and let your teammates actually go up and get the ball. If the other team has only one scorer, you focus the defense in a variety of ways. If the other team has only one ball-handler, the same thing. If they have only one good individual defender, you ignore his man on offense, or switch him onto guys who you don't need to play offense. On and on and on. Danny Granger's performance is more impressive because he's on a bad team, not less, because there is no one else on that team that anyone worries about defending.

I will grant Abbott something: to the extent players do care about their own production over team wins, those players ought not to be all-stars. The problem is that looking at team wins is not the way to figure out who those players are. I mean, take this to an extreme -- if you put Danny Granger on a team with the Cardozo School of Law All-Stars, that team will win exactly zero games. Do we fault Danny Granger for this? Of course not.

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