Day 4, Final Rundown

RICHMOND -- First off, let me just calm down any concerns you may have about Gilbert Arenas. He looked fine today and worked through every drill, even down to the end-of-practice, half-court shooting competition. We only got to see a little action, but Arenas didn't appear to be hampered or favoring his leg during the controlled, half-court scrimmage.

So, the knee is fine. I can't really explain what happened on Thursday; but unless there is something major going on with his knee, I'll stay away from it. His dislocated left middle finger? That's another story. Coach Flip Saunders said that Arenas's finger, which remains swollen, would be a "whole-year situation," because any time the finger gets hit, Arenas could get hurt again.

After practice, Saunders, Arenas and Wizards Vice President of Basketball Administration Tommy Sheppard huddled with Arenas's personal trainer Tim Grover, who came down from Chicago to work with him in Richmond. Saunders said the team would monitor Arenas closely.

"The thing you have to watch with Gilbert, he loves the game so much and he loves to play and he loves to work out, you don't want him to overdo it or do too much," Saunders said.

The Wizards do have serious health concerns for another point guard. Javaris Crittenton, who suffered a bone bruise and tendon strain in his left ankle while playing in Atlanta last summer, walked out of practice wearing a protective boot. Crittenton said he would need an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. He tried to push through the sixth practice in four days but was sitting with an ice pack on his ankle as practice concluded.

Fabricio Oberto was also held out of the final stages of practice after developing some tightness in his hamstring. Saunders said Oberto was unable to do much conditioning this summer after having his heart procedure in June, so he wanted to be cautious with him. "When he plays, he plays at a high energy level," Saunders said. "What you also want to do is understand that he was going to help us out in the playoffs, so you don't want to try to wear out a guy like that."

Saunders added that as of right now, Oberto would be the primary backup at center to Brendan Haywood, pushing back second-year center JaVale McGee further in the depth chart. "Right now, he just understands," Saunders said.

McGee still has to improve his energy level and make sure that he remains consistent, regardless of how well he's playing, Saunders said. McGee is working closely with assistants Gene Banks and Randy Wittman but is still trying to grasp the new system. "He has his days, I'm sure as a young player, he's being overwhelmed. He's had three coaches in a year," said Saunders, who still wants McGee to play like Chris Anderson from Denver and impact the game with his defense in five-minute spurts.

Saunders cancelled the second practice on Friday and the team will have a dinner tonight. Saunders said that his team is really starting to "get it. Today was the day as a coach, where I think they've been playing hard the whole time and they really understand why we're doing stuff."

Saunders also said that he probably won't pick a winner for the starting shooting guard spot until the season opener, but could change his mind, "if someone really steps out." He added that the competition has been so intense this week that he is going to have difficulty choosing the eight or nine players for his rotation. "The way they are competing I'd like to play each guy 30, 35 minutes," he said. "As hard as they are playing they all deserve that. Unfortunately, you can't do that."

As for my previous post. I left out another one of the Twizards -- Mike Miller, whose screen name is M33M. Miller hasn't tweeted since August and still lists his bio as Guard/Minnesota Timberwolves.

I asked Saunders if the Wizards plan on implementing their own Twitter guidelines. The team has yet to formally set any, but Saunders said, "I think it's the same thing with a policy with a company and they don't want you on the Internet, they don't want you on Facebook and those type of things because you're on their dime. When a player walks into an arena and walks into a practice, his concentration should be on what he needs to do to prepare for practice and prepare for a game. They shouldn't be Twittering when they walk into a practice."

By Michael Lee |  October 2, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
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Saunders also said that he probably won't pick a winner for the starting shooting guard spot until the season opener, but could change his mind, "if someone really steps out." He added that the competition has been so intense this week that he is going to have difficulty choosing the eight or nine players for his rotation. "The way they are competing I'd like to play each guy 30, 35 minutes," he said. "As hard as they are playing they all deserve that. Unfortunately, you can't do that."

Why can't you Flip? Popovich spreads the minutes out over a 10-man rotation when his team is healthy and they're almost always in the mix come Memorial Day Weekend.

We've seen what happens when two players are in the league leaders for minutes: they're gassed by April Fool's Day.

Why not go with a ten-man rotation until Thanksgiving and have guys play their way into the doghouse? No player should be logging 35+ minutes until it really matters anyways.

Posted by: elfreako | October 2, 2009 3:56 PM

Popovich almost never uses a 10-man rotation. Few veteran coaches on playoff caliber teams do. When the Spurs are healthy their rotation is the starting 5 with a primary backup wing (Ginobili or Mason, depending on who starts) a primary backup big man (who moves between 4 and 5 depending on where Duncan is slotted), and a backup PG. Other players might get minutes on a case-by-case, matchup basis, but most good teams generally avoid playing 10 guys regularly.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 2, 2009 4:19 PM

Elfreako is right, Kalorama wrong. The more successful teams -- teams that know they will be in the playoffs every year -- don't run their stars into the ground every year during the regular season, but instead spread minutes out amongst the full team to keep guys fresh. The Spurs are a great example of that -- no one played more than 34.1 minutes per game last year, and 10+ guys averaged more than 10 minutes per game. The Lakers and Celtics had 10 guys averaging more than 10 minute a game last year. Etc.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | October 2, 2009 4:31 PM

Nooooooooo, we shouldn't expect athletes at the top level of their profession to be able to play/work 30/35 minutes a game that would reaaaaaaly be over doing it. Are you kidding me? Of course the bump and grind of the NBA is tough and some consideration should be given to saving energy for the play-offs but first you have to get there and second if being in the play-offs alone doesn't re-energize a pro player then what the h*** will? Maybe it's just me but it seems that Flip has the track record and the won/loss record to back up his methods so as the constant nit-picking and negative comments continue to ferment I say we shall see and I am confident the man knows exactly what he is doing.It is always amazing to me how many "experts" we have in this area that know more than the Flip Saunders,Joe Gibbs',Jim Zorn's on a regular basis as they pontificate their boring criticism's on us all simply for the sake of hearing their own voice.

Posted by: mfowler1 | October 2, 2009 4:35 PM

How does the Zen Master get guys like Shannon Brown to come up big when it matters?

Didn't Raja Bell officially emerge under Larry Brown back durning the Sixers '01 playoff run?

Haven't we seen the 8/9 man rotation movie before?

Plantar Facitis, blisters, sore hammys, shin splints blah blah blah. I don't want to hear it anymore. McGuire, Critt and JaVale are pros now - MAKE them prove it on the floor.

Posted by: elfreako | October 2, 2009 4:46 PM

was there someone on here who said that OBerto wouldn't play 10 mins a game, now we're hearing that he's our backup C. that's not a good look against any team, maybe maryland, they never always have undersized bigs, but no pro team.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 2, 2009 4:46 PM

disgruntledfan fan is talking out of his ass. The more successful teams in the NBA rarely go beyond 8-9 man rotations because coaches of those teams know that trying to parse out minutes among 10-12 guys simply is not conducive to chemistry or maintaining a rhythm for the players.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 2, 2009 4:46 PM

"The Lakers and Celtics had 10 guys averaging more than 10 minute a game last year. "

Yet another example of how number don't tell the whole story. Looking at how many mpg each player averaged over a season tells you nothing about how the rotation was set, because it tells you nothing about how many players regularly played in each game for how long.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 2, 2009 4:55 PM

As much as I like keeping the carrot of minutes dangling for the guys on the end of the bench and get them game time, experience in a solid nine man rotation is more important developmentally. These guys haven't played together under this system and they need to build consistency with the vets and the young guys. The Wiz have six veterans who you know will show up consistently and can be counted on in the playoffs (Big 4 + Oberto, Stevenson, as defenders), hard not to put them in to keep them comfortable. The two new guys are talented, but have weaknesses( Foye and Miller), then you have two guys who have the potential to be consistent contributors and actually be better than the new guys, but they may end up not getting it and waste their minutes (Young and Blatche), then you have a promising project who has no right being on the floor if the intention is to win the game (McGee). Blatche is the key to this team reaching the next level because of the lack of depth in the frontcourt so you have to bank on an investment in minutes for him (hopefully the 7 could mean he is ready to assume his role as the second guy off the bench). Although a nine man rotation means Foye, Miller or Young (or Stevenson) will have to sit for extended periods (hard to swallow when we fans want to see what they got), if you consider injuries and back-to-backs, they will get on the floor. Also, rotations can change if someone makes it necessary (one way or the other). Also, McGee will get spot minutes simply because of his size.

Posted by: lyndale5 | October 2, 2009 4:59 PM

Kal,
The stats disgruntled fan quoted are exactly right. Everybody tightens their rotation down the stretch going into the playoffs where teams are seldom scheduled for back to backs. Most teams end up playing an 8-9 man rotation in the playoffs.

But the Spurs are a great example of a team that manages to pile up wins without playing their starters heavy minutes. To do that Pops goes 9 to 10 deep.

Disgruntled wasn't talking out of his ass, was just making a valid point.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 2, 2009 5:04 PM

Great to see that the guys are embracing the competition and showing up. Not surprised either that JM has slipped.

In terms of minutes, it is not as simple as you guys are making it out to be. The issue is not just number of minutes but when the minutes fall. If we have 15-20 blowouts among our victories then the end of the bench get many more minutes. But if we only have 4-5 blowouts all year then they don't. garbage time minutes always cloud the stats. That's why you have to watch the games. (Ex. Take away Zorn-led Skins scores against the prevent defense and look at what you have!)

That being said I do believe that Flip would be wise to start the year with a clear 2 guard and let him start until he either shows he is not the best or somebody else steps up. But again I am a big believer in who finishes the tight games rather than who starts.

The Gil knee makes me anxious too. I hope this Tim Grover is on top of things.

BmoreRev

Posted by: stanlong23 | October 2, 2009 5:10 PM

Just because the stats say someone averaged 10min a game doesn't mean exactly that. The fact that someone like Ginobli was out significant games with injury means that the 9th man played may have played 20+ minutes during those games and actually near zero once Ginobli returned. So no the 9th man wasn't a part of the regular rotation. 9/10 man rotations are usually used out of necessity and not choice.

Posted by: skinsnwiz | October 2, 2009 5:19 PM

Has anyone seen the January schedule? I haven't seen anything like it with the density of games scheduled. I hope Flip has....

Posted by: funkydancinmonk | October 2, 2009 5:20 PM

Correction: check out the density of scheduled games from late Dec. - early Feb. There must be a plan for rotating more guys in.

Posted by: funkydancinmonk | October 2, 2009 5:23 PM

You also need to play enough people to see who's hot on any given night. If Miller is lightening it up, he stays on the court. Same with Nick. It varies depending on match-ups, etc. Over the last couple of years (especially since Roger Mason left), we've lost games to somebody on the other team getting on a hot streak. And we have no answer. This team is talented. Flip should give people enough court time for him to see whether tonight it their night.

Posted by: jweber1 | October 2, 2009 5:26 PM

This is not all about minutes. Young/Miller may end up out of the rotation, but still get more minutes than Oberto at the end of the day. I think this has a lot to do with teaching professionalism. If you are in, you are a part of the team, if your are not, you aren't ready or aren't good enough. More of the same won't change that so get ready or get better.

Posted by: lyndale5 | October 2, 2009 5:29 PM

"If Gil has been practicing, what's the point of pushing him in a scrimage? Not like the guy's in camp trying to play his way onto the team, or even into the rotation or the starting lineup.

He's healthy, he's the best player on the roster. If he's not, Grunfeld's made moves that will assure this is a least a decent playoff contending team without him.

Big point right now is to keep him healthy, if that requires a little extra rest and a little more monitoring in camp, the preseason, and into the first part of the year. Flip should do that.

I'd assume with Grover around, if there's been a real setback, they really would shut Gil down.

If he's got some typical second or third day in soreness, logic says that they backoff a little. A player with no injury history will just push himself through it. A guy coming off of three knee surgeries, smart think to do is play it a little conservative.

Reading some of these posts, I've got this image in my head of people streaming out of building and walking up Constitution Ave. to jump off of the bridge. They'll have to wait their turn and take a number, the Redskins fans got there first...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 2, 2009 9:16 AM "

Clearly GM'er is from the Clinton Portis and AI Academy of how to prepare for a season....yeah, sit out practice.

Gilby has been resting for almost 3 years.

Time to make that mule work.

We'd better not hear any BS this season about how tough back to back games are, or long road trips.

Buncha BS.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 2, 2009 5:37 PM

"I can see dc man smiling and jabbing his gilbert voodoo doll right now

Posted by: bford1kb | October 2, 2009 2:52 PM "

Sorry, Gilby's smiling voodoo doll stabs himself.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 2, 2009 5:37 PM

Why does the boo boo on his non shooting hand matter?

Stop the over ANALyzation.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 2, 2009 5:40 PM

I had back surgery when I was 20. Before back surgery I played ball 6 or 7 days a week. After the surgery I could only play 2 or 3 times a week. For Gil the training camp schedule might be too much, but in the regular season things will be a bit less intense.

Even in the best case I suspect he will have flare ups here and there. The problem is if he is physically unable to play back to backs on a regular basis or handle intense road trips as DC_MANN88 points out.

Posted by: MeviousMan | October 2, 2009 6:19 PM

Also, having a player on the roster that shouldn't spend time "on the floor" is a waste of roster and cap space. I wish we could bring Roger Mason back.

Posted by: ParkerLewis | October 2, 2009 4:14 PM

I wish we could get RM back too, but if RM took the 6th man, then who goes to the 14th or 15th roster spot? And then do you try and trade them for someone else? How long does that go on?

Seriously, how many 13th, 14th or 15th men on any roster see the floor regularly? better yet, how many of them have 10 years of experience? Or how many of them could you name?

Your point about having everyone on the roster play serious minutes is inane. It just doesn't work that way.

I get it, you hate Mike James...but he has an expiring contract and has a talent (he can score in streaks). That makes him valuable to the right team around Feb.

To say he had only one "good season" is a bit subjective as well. he had one phenomenal season and bunch of mediocre seasons. If you judge his stats by starter expectations. But no one expects that of him. Thats why we have 8 guys vying for starter spots. And James can try all he wants, but I seriously doubt even he expects to be a starter on this team this year.

I'll take 8 pts and 3 assists off the bench from my #12 any day.

Posted by: Blurred | October 2, 2009 8:19 PM

Bummer about J Critt.
He showed flashes last year.
Hoped he'd improved his overall game. Him missing any training camp time hurts his chances.
Maybe Mike James is gonna make a contract year push and help out. His improvement will at least push the other guards.
Maybe Blatches Mom should get after Javale.

Posted by: VBFan | October 2, 2009 8:42 PM

It's disheartening to learn that Oberto has been designated as the backup center. I thought no way that he's in Saunders' eight to nine man rotation. McGee must be struggling if he can't beat out this undersized, not very talented castoff.

Posted by: phil27 | October 3, 2009 12:26 AM

Teams do shorten their rotations in the playoffs . . . from 8-9 in the regular season to 7 or 8 in the postseason. The suggestion that good NBA teams routinely play 10 or 11 guys on a day-in-day out basis is simply untrue.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 3, 2009 1:19 AM

Why does the boo boo on his non shooting hand matter?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 2, 2009 5:40 PM
------------

don't we want him to do more than just shoot?

Posted by: crs-one | October 3, 2009 1:36 AM

...the Butler story on defensive focus was interesting. Seems to be another shot at EJ and ineffective coaching schemes. I hope what CB is saying is about how effective Flip's defense is true and the rest of his teammates, especially GA, are buying into it. Would certainly be a refreshing change.

Posted by: oddjob1 | October 3, 2009 8:43 AM

Being the vet and older player, maybe Flip penciled Oberto in automatically to start camp, and it's up to Mcgee to beat him out by the end of the month.

I'm one of the few here who think Oberto is so-so at best, but if Mcgee cant beat him out...so be it.

Posted by: divi3 | October 3, 2009 9:03 AM

Roger Mason Jr. did an interview on one of the local radio shows about a month ago and he said that Oberto will prove to be one of the best free agent signings of the season. He raved about his overall game and toughness, I think we will be pleasently surprised by his play.

I was one who also said McGee would be BTH primary back-up but I guess I have to realise that he's a second year player who has to learn an entirely new system. He is the future but will contribute this year and will learn a lot from Oberto and Haywood.

Posted by: zxhoya | October 3, 2009 9:25 AM

Disgruntlefan,

Your factual explanation of this rotation business slaps Kalo_rama's assertions of the table.

You caught his hand in the cookie jar and he has the nerve to dismiss you and say thats not my hand.

Boy, you talking about never refusing to admit that you might be a little bit wrong about something.

Some guys on his board take the cake. I thought DC_Man88 was tops, but now I have to reconsider.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 9:49 AM

Flip wants JM to be more like Chris Andersen is a mistake. JM needs to look at Andrew Bynum. Andersen has NO offensive skills, he is just a roming defender. JM has the potential to be a good back to the basket center ala Akeem or Patrick Ewing. His defense will be there as long as he can pick up the scheme.

Posted by: lemekdivine | October 3, 2009 10:28 AM

Let's hope that JCrit decides to follow good medical advise and heal rather than to keep playing.

He has to be healthy to win playing time and be effective.

He does not need to be like Sevenson and Daniels trying to play/practive when they were clearly hurt and should have be rehabilitating.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 10:29 AM

Gil's dropping the off court stuff and just ballin. At the end of the season, if the knee holds up, look for him in the top 3-4 for comeback player of the year and dare I say it........MVP.
Go Wiz!

Posted by: ptp23 | October 3, 2009 10:52 AM

The team told us Oberto was their guy once he hit the free agent market so it looks like JM is the odd man out on the front line unless someone gets hurt. The organization clearly wants to win now and if this group can’t come close to winning a championship, I believe they let MM and BTH walk at the end of the year.

If Flip sticks to a 9 man rotation I think the 9 will be (if healthy) Gil, AJ, CB, BTH, Foye, MM, AB, Oberto, and DS.

JM, NY, and Critt are all restricted free agents and can’t go anywhere. MJ is an insurance policy and DM will be good at practice. Come mid season and if they are close to contending I predict MJ and one of the young guys will be traded for another vet.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | October 3, 2009 12:27 PM

The team told us Oberto was their guy once he hit the free agent market so it looks like JM is the odd man out on the front line unless someone gets hurt. The organization clearly wants to win now and if this group can’t come close to winning a championship, I believe they let MM and BTH walk at the end of the year.

BF78,

You are not the only one to indicate that BTH won't be resigned. I, however think that it would be a mistake not to resign BTH.

At center I just think that BTH is a must for a contending Team that does not already have a better center than he.

I also disagree that Brendan will sulk and not play well when another player JM or Oberto is deserving of center minutes.

What we saw before in Brendan's attitude was attributal to the fact that Etan/Dson did not deserve the Center minutes at his expense and he felt, he was being treated unfairly by EJ.

Having two serviceable NBA centers in BTH and Oberto along with an upcoming JM is something that I would not easily let go.

None of the three by themselves is a dominant NBA center, but the three together, makes the center position a plus for your Team.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 1:14 PM

Why do a lot of posters here believe that DS will beat out NY in the rotation? From all reports from trainig camp, NY has been lights out and Flip has spoken highly of him.
What I've heard about DS is that he's healthy again but i haven't heard any high praise. I like DS, but he is what he is, a one dimensional player who who plays marginal to good defense imo.

Posted by: zxhoya | October 3, 2009 1:22 PM

If we have the kind of year that many of us think we will, they will sell out every game and be one of the most exciting teams in the league. That being said, I think we will resign BTH and continue to over the Lux Tax, unless we just lay an egg this season or JMcG all of a sudden blossoms before his time.

Posted by: zxhoya | October 3, 2009 1:31 PM

From Washington Post, Butler said:
"Usually, our defensive schemes left us on an island," said Butler, recalling a time when he was guarding Bryant and said, "Where the help at?"
Butler said he was just told, "You got him."
"Now, I know where to push him. I know where my help is coming from," Butler said. "There was a lot of confusion before. This defensive system is unbelievable. Guys know the rotations. This is real simple."
------------------------------------------

As I said it before, EJ "tlaked" about defense (often through the media), but didn't really "coach" defense. His player didn't even know where to push the guy his guarding, and where his help may be! There is simply no defensive scheme other than "You got him!"

I think this is the main reason EJ got fired. The dismal last season only provided the opportunity. As EG said on Comcast Washington Post Live the other day, we do not need to be a top defensive team, but we cannot be at the bottom. We need to be somehwere in the middle.

I couldn't wiat for the season to start!

Posted by: sagaliba | October 3, 2009 2:28 PM

"Your factual explanation of this rotation business slaps Kalo_rama's assertions of the table. "

The only "facts" he presented (a listing of mpg averages for various teams) provide no meaningful insight into the teams' player rotations. I'm beginning to wonder if you even know what the word "rotation" actually means in a sports context. But then, I often wonder if you know what anything means in a sports context.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 3, 2009 2:31 PM

kal,

I took about five minutes to look at box scores of about 10 Spurs games specifically from last season to see how many guys saw floor time. I wanted to know if it was routinely eight to nine players or more than that. It turns out that Pops played about 10 guys a game on average. Now, obviously there were six or seven guys who played substantially more minutes, but Pops did reach deeper into this bench than you're perhaps suggesting.

I specifically looked at games with close scores because I understand in blow out wins and loses you'll usually see all 12 guys get some run.

So while I think there's some truth to your point, I also don't think you can summarily dismiss the claims by others on this board that good coaches don't find time for more than eight of their players.

Posted by: CDon | October 3, 2009 3:02 PM

Oh, and yes, in your first post you wrote, "Other players might get minutes on a case-by-case, matchup basis, but most good teams generally avoid playing 10 guys regularly."

This could be the case with the Spurs. It most likely is because there are obviously six or seven guys who get the majority of minutes. But it seems as though Pops DID play 10 guys regularly based on the small sample size I looked at.

Posted by: CDon | October 3, 2009 3:04 PM

The reason DS is more likely to be in the rotation is because he is more likely to start. He can play consistently solid defense at the 2 and hit threes within the offense. Not spectacular, but positive support and you always want defense at the beginning of the game. Having a 2 with the ability to create his own shot is unnecessary when the 2 is the fourth option and Gil will be dominating the ball. NY has the potential to be the most active player without the ball on offense, catch and shoot at a high percentage and play just as good defense as DS, if not better. This is clearly where he is being pushed, but although we've heard reports of Rip-like play, we haven't heard anything about his defense, which means its bad. "NY picking up match-up zone" is not going to be the lead anytime soon I don't think. He's not ready from a defensive perspective, although I think he is good enough and hope he becomes that player. DS will play with Gil in a standard set, RF will back up Gil at 1 and play 2 with Gil in running sets or when DS is missing everything. MM will back up DS and CB so he will be in the rotation. Until he learns where to be on the floor on defense, NY will only get garbage minutes with RF/Gil at the point where Flip just hopes he can outscore the other team's bench. Its tough because NY is either the starter or out of the rotation, and he isn't ready to be the starter. If (If) he can put it all together this year and Blatche is solid at 7, I honestly believe a championship is possible, but that is a lot to lay on a guy who needs time to learn. The Wiz can compete in the EC Finals without NY (but we need Blatche) and that is their goal this year. NY has to be the starting 2 next year. That is should be his goal.

Posted by: lyndale5 | October 3, 2009 3:15 PM

Flip wants JM to be more like Chris Andersen is a mistake. JM needs to look at Andrew Bynum. Andersen has NO offensive skills, he is just a roming defender. JM has the potential to be a good back to the basket center ala Akeem or Patrick Ewing. His defense will be there as long as he can pick up the scheme.

Are you serious? JM has NO back to the basket game. His offensive repitoire is predicated on his quickness and athletic ability. Just because he wants him to play like Birdman on defense doesn't mean he can't develop an offensive game.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | October 3, 2009 3:46 PM

@ lydale: I deep down don't believe NY will start but he damn sure will have a 6th man role on this team at least.

I don't believe DS will start either, RF prob so Flip can have a versatile backcourt

Posted by: zxhoya | October 3, 2009 4:14 PM

Kalorama, as he noted, is referring to a coach's player rotation, not minutes played, if that is not putting too fine a point on it, though in any discussion involving Kalorama, fine points are a foregone conclusion.
Though a well accepted term I'm unable to find a satisfactory definition of player rotation in basketball on the web.
Safe to assume it refers to a set group of 8, 9 or even 10 players on a roster of 13-14 players who are designated as the core team who have assigned roles in implementing set plays and strategy. The rest of the roster is basically filler.
It seems the elite teams and coaches usually use a tight rotation and work in minutes for the end of the bench as injuries and junk time permits.

Posted by: midlevex | October 3, 2009 4:33 PM

"So while I think there's some truth to your point, I also don't think you can summarily dismiss the claims by others on this board that good coaches don't find time for more than eight of their players."

Except that wasn't the claim being made (to say nothing of the fact that a 10 game sample out of an 82-game season (not including playoffs) isn't really representative). They were claiming that teams in the NBA routinely use 10 or more players in the regular rotation. That is not true. What is true that playing an 8-9 man rotation doesn't mean that only 8-9 players will ever see playing time in any game, period. (A fact that Flip Saunders himself has publicly addressed.) It means that the bulk of the minutes in day-in-day-out situations will be divided among those 8-9 players in fairly regular time allotments and playing order. It doesn't preclude the use of other players in certain situations--blowouts, injury, foul trouble, ineffectiveness among the top 8-9 in a given game--It means that playing 8-9 players a game is the standard game plan, and that those 8-9 players (barring incident) will know not only that they will play, but when and how much. It creates a pattern or routine that the players can comfortably settle into, which helps game preparation and chemistry.

Like I said, it all comes down to knowing what a "rotation" actually is.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 3, 2009 4:40 PM

Moreover, the underlying argument behind the "let's play everybody" crowd is fundamentally flawed. It's based on an assumption that the only way to reduce the minutes played by the starters is to play as many players as possible and that that goal can't be achieved with an 8-9 man rotation. Again, not true. An 8-9 man rotation is fully sufficient to get the starters enough rest, assuming that you maximize the minutes played by players 6-9. That's been the Wizards problem all along. There are 240 player minutes in every game. If the 4 guys off the bench average around 25 mpg, that's enough to reduce the time played by the starters to the low-30 mpg range. That's plenty of rest over the course of an NBA season. But it requires having 4 guys who are good enough the play 20-25 off the bench (on a regular, game-in-game-out basis) without hurting the team, something the Wizards haven't had in forever. With the addition of two proven big minutes players in Miller and Foye (and the presumed maturation of at least a couple of the youngsters) that should change. Hopefully.

And, to curtail any further use of the meaningless "Team X had Y number of players who played at least 10 mpg last season" argument as proof of how many guys played in the rotation: Last season the Wizards had fourteen players who averaged at least 10 mpg (not including Arenas and Haywood); eleven of them averaging at least 20 mpg. And yet, that didn't prevent (A) Jamison and Butler from averaging almost 40 mpg or (B) the fans pissing and moaning about not enough guys getting PT. So much for the "season average proves player rotation" theory, huh?

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 3, 2009 4:40 PM

Make that ten guys who averaged at least 20 mpg (not that it changes the point any).

"JM needs to look at Andrew Bynum."

He can look at Bynum all he likes, but until he adds some major muscle mass and learns some low post, back-to-the-basket moves, he has no shot at playing like him.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 3, 2009 4:48 PM

I, for one, don't think Saunders should play everyone. He should have a tight rotation. The question is how you define a rotation. Does that consist of an average number of players who see time during the course of an 82-game season? Does a rotation mean the number of guys who see 20 minutes or more a game?

I also don't much stock in MPGs because you'd assume that great NBA teams would be involved in "easier" wins more often, thus affording the players at the end of the bench more playing time. That would definitely inflate the MPGs of ninth, 10th and 11th men.

As to your point, as well, about the unrepresentative sample I used. I agree. In fact, I 'fessed up to that shortcoming. I don't have time to go through all 82 box scores (plus playoffs) to get accurate numbers, so I chose 10 games at random that had close scores, making the assumption that in tighter games a coach would limit the number of players he uses (obviously this doesn't account for foul trouble, injury, etc., that would force extra players into action). I think, though, if a rotation means the number of guys a coach plays on average during 82 games, then we might find that teams like the Spurs play a rotation of 10 guys. If rotation is based more on those guys who play about 20 minutes or more a game, then yes, we're looking at a tighter rotation of about seven players.

Personally, I believe a rotation involves guys who are playing consistent minutes of about 18 or more a game. That means the Spurs don't play a 10-man rotation. That said, they probably do play 10 men regularly, but two or three of them probably aren't considered part of the "main" rotation.

Posted by: CDon | October 3, 2009 4:52 PM

Oh, and some of those questions above were posed more toward everyone than only kal because kal did explain how he defined a rotation.

Posted by: CDon | October 3, 2009 4:56 PM

"As I said it before, EJ "tlaked" about defense (often through the media), but didn't really "coach" defense. His player didn't even know where to push the guy his guarding, and where his help may be! There is simply no defensive scheme other than "You got him!"

I think this is the main reason EJ got fired. The dismal last season only provided the opportunity. As EG said on Comcast Washington Post Live the other day, we do not need to be a top defensive team, but we cannot be at the bottom. We need to be somehwere in the middle.

I couldn't wiat for the season to start!

Posted by: sagaliba | October 3, 2009 2:28 PM "

And what was Gilby's reaction when EJ preached defense?

His reaction was "I'll pass."

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 3, 2009 6:01 PM

It's hilarious that EJ would ask anyone to play defense. Afterall, he had to be overuled by Grundfeld to hire a defensive assistant (Randy) when most of the elite teams already had one. He's an offensive coach who was fine with his teams trying to outscore opponents. The players not only passed on defense. He did as well.

Posted by: ptp23 | October 3, 2009 6:40 PM

Kal,

I have to say you killed that argument. Nothing more needs to be said. Some people don't know how to analyze numbers properly.

I've been telling you guys all along that Oberto would be the primary backup to McGee. Why you guys take this as a bad omen is beyond me? McGee is a freaky athlete even by NBA standards, but is as raw as they come. Oberto is a reliable veteran more than willing to do all the dirty work with a basketball IQ. He's not going to be out of position. He'll know the offensive, defensive sets etc.... I'm sure McGee is still mostly clueless and that is not a knock on him. It just is at this stage in his development. I mean, come on, we got a guy who started with Duncan on a championship team that is now our backup C and that is somehow a bad omen??? Give me a break!

Haywood *will* be resigned to a three/four year contract. That's about how long it will take for McGee to be an everyday reliable professional player assuming he gets there. Most in here are confusing raw talent with the ability to play the game at a professional level every night. Hell, Blatche is in his 4th yr(?) and is still not quite there yet. Hopefully, this is the year where it clicks. Sounds like he's getting there at least in words. So, we'll see.

Posted by: rphilli721 | October 3, 2009 7:26 PM

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