Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Misconception About Why John Paxson Sucks

After reading this over at Top Ten Chicago Sports today, I realized that there is a common misconception about John Paxson. The fact that he is a shitty GM is not in question, but WHY he is a bad GM seems to be something people don't fully grasp.

Being a GM involves 4 basic tasks: (1) Acquiring players through the draft; (2) Acquiring players through free agency and trades; (3) Cap management; and (4) Hiring a competent coaching staff. With everyone furious at Paxson over the Bulls recent run of problems, people are just making sweeping generalizations that Pax sucks at all 4 of these things. I beg to differ.

Lets look at each factor that goes into being a GM and assess Paxson's success and/or failure. First is acquiring players through the draft. This is where the sticking point is. There is a sense that Paxson is a terrible drafter based on his most recent drafts. While Tyrus and Joakim have not lived up to expectation, overall Paxson has done a relatively good job. The mistake fans make in assessing drafts is just assessing how good the player is, and not the value he brought from whatever pick he was drafted at. For instance, Aaron Gray sucks. I mean he is at best a good back-up center in this league. He was a second rounder though! How many guys even get minutes in the NBA from the second round. You can count them on one hand. Gordon, Deng and Thabo were all very good picks. He isn't Kevin Pritchard by any means, but Pax has done well with the picks he had. Also he made the correct decision on Derrick Rose. Beasely doesn't suck, but Rose is better.

Acquiring players through free agency and trades is where Pax went all wrong, and this leaks into the third factor, cap management. The Bulls have made 2 notable trades since Pax came on board. Tyson Chandler for PJ Brown, and Ben Wallace for Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden. The Chandler move was bad, the Wallace move was good (I mean we basically traded one team cancer for another, but got Gooden out of it). The big mistake here is not the trades he made, but the ones he didn't. All the rumors aside about Garnett, Kobe, Pau, etc. coming to Chicago, Paxson's trigger-shy attitude has been costly. The one big free agent signing he did make was a complete disaster, Ben Wallace. It also pushed us up right up against the cap until 2010.

The last factor, coaching, is another area where Paxson did not do bad. Wait, hear me out. Skiles was able to take a young, raw, unmotivated team and turn them into winners. When the time came to take the next step, the players started tuning him out, so Pax got rid of him and tried to hire someone who could take the Bulls to that next level. He tried to hire Mike D'Antoni. But Reinsdorf didn't want to shell out the money so Pax was forced to settle for the much cheaper, and shittier, Vinny Del Negro. Vinny sucks, but that is not Pax's fault.

Anyways, the point of all this is to say that Pax is a decent GM when it comes to drafting and even selecting coaches. His faults lie in actually dealing with free agents and other GMs to bring in good talent and manage cap space. If you take anything from this post, let it be that Paxson is a shitty GM. If you want to look a little deeper though, don't be one of those people who says he doesn't know how to draft, because that is not the problem. You have until February 19th Pax, make something happen.


Anonymous said...

"How many guys even get minutes in the NBA from the second round. You can count them on one hand."

Arenas, Redd, GInobili, Boozer, Mbah a Moute, Chalmers, Marc Gasol(picked right in front of Gray), Millsap, Bass, Turiaf, Amir Johnson, Monta Ellis, Duhon, Ariza, Rashard Lewis, Kapono, L. Walton, Pachulia, Bonner, Bogans, Korver, Barnes, Scola and Okur

Thats a big hand, and Aaron Gray blows ass

Ethan Samson said...

i think you have to attribute VDN sucking to paxson. Really, I think getting rid of skiles was the wrong move. Obviously it happened because the team stopped respecting him, but the personnel on the team took a turn for the worse when Chandler was traded. He was a leader on the team (emotionally), and when he left the whole character of the team changed and lead to skiles' exit.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I'd say he's good at drafting. Missing on Tyrus is a pretty big black mark, considering that Aldridge and Roy are so much better (not to mention would fit in with exactly what he wants). Thabo's ok at best.

His first rounders have been Rose, Deng, Gordon, Thomas, Noah, and Thabo. One of those guys is a star, one's a good player, one's a sixth man, and three others are bench players. Considering that five of them were taken in the top 10, that's not a great record.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Pax has done the best job as GM but what I find interesting is how everyone praised his trade/draft pics. When talk got out about aquiring Ben Wallace no-one raised there hand to say that was a bad deal! It wasn't until he got here and we realized what we had that the blame started going around. Kobe was never going to come here. Tell me what team/players would be his supporting cast? No-one! They would have to trade everyone worth a damn away! So, before everyone goes and cruicifies Pax, be aware that he did have a crappy situation that he did make better and although he hasn't been terrific, he hasn't "sucked" as bad as what it's written here.

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