Amidst Flip Saunders’ talk of an 8-man rotation (well, according to his quote below, really an 8 + 2 rotation), I wanted to attempt to predict the 2009-10 minutes distribution … all the way in August.
My philosophy’s always been you play eight players, nine and ten play when you have some foul trouble which you’re always gonna usually have in a game. -Flip
The idea reflected in my numbers below is that eight players will receive consistent minutes and the ‘plus 2′ can be any combination of the remaining players, given which one, contingent on a number of factors that will be judged by Saunders’ coaching experience, best fits the circumstance.
(Note: I first came up with my numbers on some gut feeling, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink! type of thinking. I then read a great post, ‘How Deep Was My Bench?’ by bwoodsxyx on Bullets Forever. The post relays some great research and numbers that support the ’8 + 2′ idea when it comes to Saunders’ rotation.)
48 PG Minutes
- -34 Gilbert Arenas is not going to start the season at 40 mpg levels. Look for the Flip & Co. to bring him along cautiously.
- -10 Mike James will take his 10 minutes like a pro and surprise us. At 34 and investigating a broadcasting career, he knows he can still get at least another year of NBA money if he can prove to be a great backup PG … he also may be better than anyone else the Wizards have at the position.
- - 4 Garbage/Misc time. Maybe Foye swings to the point for a few (money says that Flip will not fully trust the unreliable Foye running his offense), maybe Crittenton gets a chance at the end of the first or third quarter, and maybe Gil gets hot and is left in a couple more minutes.
48 SG Minutes
- -18 Don’t be surprised when DeShawn Stevenson starts. He’s only 28 folks, and as I mentioned in his evaluation, still one of the better perimeter defenders on the team. But his minutes will likely be significantly cut from what he’s received in the past.
- -16 Mike Miller probably plays mostly with Arenas and Butler during all of his minutes at guard, which can increase in crunch time if he’s on and DeShawn is cold.
- -14 Look for Randy Foye to see much of his time at shooting guard, picking up some more minutes here or at point to ultimately get around 20+ per game.
48 SF Minutes
- -37 Caron Butler will stay Tuff Juice at his normal levels. You might see him switch to a 3/4 swing position with a front line of him, Blatche/Haywood, and Miller at times.
- -9 Mike Miller will be invaluable as a facilitator at the small forward, especially with guards who can penetrate (Arenas and Young/Foye), and a big man who can clean up around the basket without needing touches in the offense (Haywood or Oberto).
- -2 Nick Young? Dom McGuire? It will depend on the game situation, or perhaps who is practicing harder. Either could see limited time alongside Arenas and Butler as wing players, with McGuire/Young guarding the shooting guard spot. On many nights, these two minutes probably go to Butler or Miller.
48 PF Minutes
- -36 Antawn Jamison likes his 38 minutes, but the guy listed below will hopefully be playing well enough to eat into The Gentleman’s time on a semi-regular basis … AJ will get his full run against big opponents and in the playoffs.
- -12 Andray Blatche, depending on his concentration, could earn more minutes, or give way to more Jamison or McGuire minutes … but a good chunk of Blatche’s time will usually be spent in his natural position at the four.
48 C Minutes
- -35 Brendan Haywood will probably average around 35 minutes, but his time can fluctuate between 32 and 38 minutes on a given night.
- -7 Blatche will see some time at center with Antawn Jamison at the four. ‘Dray and AJ seem to team up nicely, and after all, Blatche is historically more productive when he’s at the 5.
- -6 McGee/Oberto … whomever the situation calls for. This slot could increase to 10 minutes on any given night, depending on the game flow of either Haywood, Blatche, or Jamison.
Plus 2 Combos:
Last Man Standing:
- Crittenton – won’t always be the last on the bench, but with the number of guards on the roster, he’s likely to see the least amount of minutes on the year.
Yes, it’s August … more than 80 days until opening night. Between training camp and preseason, there are still many position battles to be decided. But bet on Flip Saunders relying heavily on veterans and keeping his best players tightly subbed on and off the court.