Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Main Problem: Lack of Flexibility with the Rotation

We have the guys that are capable of helping in areas where we struggle (rebounding, defense, post scoring), but they were not allowed to play and develop along the way for fear of changing that which Nelson is comfortable with. When things are going bad, Nelson doesn't go to the guys that could fix what is currently not working (fatigue, lack of interior defense, intensity, or rebounding, shooting). For whatever reason, he is content to watch large leads slip away or games like the last two (Spurs and Mavs) get way out of hand before doing anything about it. No one is held accountable for their bad play and then fatigue and complacency set in.

I don't buy the argument that we would have lost more games and would be in worse shape than we are now. The current rotation has not dominated much this year and in fact, have lost big leads only to barely win at the end. We could not blow out teams because heavy minute players were unwilling to play hard every minute they were out there in order to conserve their energy for a late game push. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. When it did, if felt exhilarating. When it didn't, it cost us winnable games and breathing room for the playoff run. We have the potential to be better than a 50-win team, but the potential remains untapped by Nellie. He will live and die with the vets because he thinks experience trumps effort and skill. This is not always the case. One rookie/soph on the floor surrounded by vets will not lose you the game. If that one guy is causing too much problems over a reasonable time to make a judgement, take him out - but for goodness sakes GIVE THEM A CHANCE!!!!

If the main guys played 100% while they were on the court and Nellie used the bench more to relieve guys if they were tired or having an off game, we would be in much better shape. The young ones would be better prepared as a result of getting spot meaningful minutes and late season fatigue would not be as big an issue.

I don't blame Baron or Jackson. If it was made clear to them that they wouldn't play 40 minutes a game, they would be more willing to play as fast and furious last year. CJ Watson has shown that he can be an asset when he's out on the floor. Belinelli could play a minute or two when leads are big vs. weaker competition. Monta has shown enough to trust a few minutes of PG duty to him. There is no reason for Baron and Jackson to play that many minutes the entire season. I question Nelson for playing the likes of Mbenga (unskilled), Webber (over-the-hill), Croshere (ill equipt), and often struggling Harrington, Pietrus, and Barnes at the 4/5 spot while letting his arsenal of long big men (Wright, O'Bryant, and Perovic) go to waste. Sure they aren't the most talented offensive bigs we have, but they can make a difference on the glass, defensively in the paint, and a little scoring on put-backs or on smaller guys. Nelson is a master of the mismatch and a great x's and o's guy, but his lack of flexibility with the rotation has been what's holding back the team from achieving more.

I still think we have a shot if we could play the way we are capable of playing. But without Nelson trusting the bench and shuttling guys in and out to find what works and to fix what doesn't, we will see more of the same.

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