Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
What I find interesting is the way that Ainge seems to manage Doc Rivers using his personnel moves.
Balance is an important thing in basketball. You need to be balanced to make jumpshots consistently. You can't have all the players on the same side of the key on most plays because they would get in each other's way. If you have a rotation of all guards and no decent bigs, that will eventually be exploited by opponents. Balance is a good thing.
So when you have a team that features three aging stars featured prominently in the rotation, it sure helps to balance that out with some youth. And even the youth that was brought in or brought back is balanced between the really young rookies and the younger veteran types.
What I find interesting about this next quote was the way that Ainge seems to manage Doc Rivers using his personnel moves.
The summer acquisitions will take some pressure off the very young and keep them from being overexposed, but the Celts know the development process has to run concurrently with the banner effort. "They need to play," said Ainge of the children. "We need to use our full roster. Doc is well aware of that. I mean, it’s a more unique situation, and as our guys are getting older, we have to be concerned about the preservation of their minutes and getting the most out of them. "Doc and I have talked about that. We needed to add depth, and we need to play our young guys."
Doc is a coach, and just about any coach will most often take a short term goal of winning games at the expense of long term goals such as developing talent. That is a good thing, especially when you have players that may only be playing 1 or 2 more seasons in the league and a legit chance to compete for a title.
As a GM that has more long term goals in mind (while still placing the short term goals at or near the top) it is clever the way that Ainge has set Doc up to almost have to play the youth. Kind of like the year that he didn't add a legit backup point guard in part to force Doc to play Rajon Rondo despite some growing pains that year. Doc has to play younger players this year if only to keep the older ones from burning out too soon.
Granted, he's always had a few young players on the roster, but this year the young guys can actually legitimately play. Both Bass and Bradley started on this team last year. Jeff Green started for a good OKC team a few years back. Courtney Lee has been a starter in the league and might start on this team. Despite playing for 7 teams, Darko is hardly old at 27 and at his best he's a legit backup center in this league. Throw in a mature-beyond-his-years Jared Sullinger and you've got a solid but youthful group of support players. These guys can play, and play they will.
Of course it still comes back to balance. Doc has to manage the old guy's minutes downward while allowing for the mistakes of the younger crowd as they add to their resumes. You have to find time for Jeff Green, Sullinger is forcing his way into the top of the rotation, and you have to find time for our 3 starting caliber shooting guards. Thankfully they are all multi-talented guys and Doc is a creative sort that is willing to experiment with various lineups. As wjsy points out, there will be a lot of mixing and matching of pairs and trios on the court.
It is fascinating to watch Doc experiment and brainstorm on the fly in the preseason but eventually he's going to need to develop a battle rhythm of sorts so players can get accustomed to their roles and routines. Flexibility is great, but too much of it leads to chaos. Danny has given Doc the deepest team he's had in years. But perhaps just as importantly, he's given him a team that can be balanced.