[Editor's Note: Bumped, because I agree (and because it's interesting to discuss). I'll have more on this game later - real work calls. -MP].
Our problem is simple: too many scorers. Gilbert has a usage rate of 30.2%, Antawn is at 24.7%, and Caron 22.2%. Brendan is a relatively modest 13.9%, but that's probably just because the other players don't pass him the ball that often. For those keeping score at home, the total usage rate for those four players comes out to 91.0%. Mike Miller was our fifth starter with a rate of 12.7%, so the total for the starting lineup came out to a reasonable 103.7%. Unfortunately, Miller got hurt, so Flip has been scrambling to find a replacement. Also unfortunately, we don't have a good replacement.Try to replace Miller with Foye (21.3%) or Young (21.9%) or Boykins (22.5%) or Blatche (20.1%), and the total usage rate for the lineup comes out to over 111%. No wonder we've been been having problems with players jacking up contested shots with tons of time left on the shot clock. Playing any of those players in place of Miller is like trying to fit square peg into the round hole in the lineup created by Miller's injury.
To fill that round hole, we need a low usage rate player who can contribute without a lot of shot attempts, through defense or passing or rebounding. Unfortunately, the round pegs on our bench have proven to be a poor match for our round hole. Oberto is a round peg, but he has turned into a foul machine and is a poor fit defensively alongside Antawn. Dominic is another round peg, but he can't shoot and the passing touch he showed last year has gone mysteriously missing. DeShawn has been a serviceable round peg for the last few years, but since his back injury, his defense and especially his shooting stroke have degenerated badly. Our round pegs have turned out to be too small to fill this round hole.
The good news is that Miller will be back later this season.
In the meantime, we can wait and hope that one of the round pegs on our bench gets his game back. But in that case, we actually have to let them play their way out of their slump. We seem to be taking this tack with DeShawn, but Flip's patience doesn't show any signs of paying off. Maybe we can try the experiment again and get a better result with Dominic.
Alternatively, we could try to trade a square peg for a round one. Mike James, Randy Foye, and Nick Young are all square pegs with some value. Can we trade one or more of them for a nice bench-quality round peg? A Barry brother type of role player would be perfect.
Yes, we've looked terrible so far. But there is still plenty of reason for hope. Miller will come back, Dominic may find his game, and Grunfeld may be able to trade for a the round peg that completes the puzzle. Don't blow it up until we have exhausted our options for making this work.