My favorite topic. Whoopie! (not)
Needless to say, Eddie Jordan threw us a curveball with his first-game rotation. Twelve guys played, with the two major stints belonging to youngsters Andray Blatche (25 minutes) and Nick Young (18). It's a huge departure from the Eddie that used to play seven-man rotations, riding his no-mistake veterans into the ground while the young guys were unable to play through their mistakes. We saw Blatche turn the ball over left and right, yet still have the ability to play the key moments down the stretch. Eddie's saying Blatche played well against the Nets, but I'm not sure I really buy that explanation, which is why this is so fascinating. It's this curveball that has me confused as to how to feel about the first-game rotation.
In my mind, if Blatche and Young are going to get the bulk of the bench minutes over Darius Songaila and Juan Dixon, I'd be overjoyed. Both young guys have outperformed the vets in the past and both offer the prospect of future improvement. The interesting question, though, is whether Blatche and Young, and for that matter Dee Brown, JaVale McGee and the other bench guys, deserve the minutes they received on Wednedsay. While Blatche was playing 25 minutes, Etan Thomas, who put up a double-double in just 18 minutes, was tethered to the bench (a development that still has me shocked). Dixon also wasn't bad in his eight minutes, so it's interesting to see him sit so much. It's also debatable whether the constant subbing messed up the team's offensive rhythm. We were so ragged on both ends, and maybe a consistent pattern could have solved that.
But when thinking about this issue, I'm reminded of something Dave from Blazers Edge wrote a while ago. A coach really can't win when it comes to substitution patterns. It's the easiest thing for the average fan to criticize because it's so much simpler than the Xs and Os. Most of a coach's work comes before and after the game, when no fan is watching. Fans do watch substitution patterns, though, because the only time the issue takes effect is during the games. It's often convenient to blame the coach and deflect blame from the players.
To apply this to today, I think it's pretty hypocritical to bash Eddie for going to one extreme to another. Before, he played his core guys too much, running them into the ground and only replacing them with his veteran pets (cough Michael Ruffin cough). Now, there's a reasonable criticism that Eddie extended his rotation too much in the first game and played it like a preseaosn contest. Besides Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler (who regrettably will keep playing too many minutes), pretty much everybody on the roster played at least five minutes. I don't want to see that in future games, but at the same time, it's better than playing only veterans.
At the same time, though, we need to set a rotation and I'd rather get it set sooner rather than later. I'd rather not have to experiment during the regular season, because that's what preseason is for. I also strongly believe that players are more consistent when they know how they are going to be used. Simply going by "feel" isn't a good strategy.
I'm going to pose these questions to you guys now. Did you like Eddie Jordan's rotation in the first game? Do you think it may have cost us the game in some way? Do you think it'll help for developmental purposes, or will it only cause players to not get into a rhythm? Specifically, how would you allocate minutes to players on the bench?