FanPost

Non-traditional way of looking at basketball rotations

Over the past couple of days I've heard much gnashing of teeth over Nate's proposed starting line-up of Blake, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, and Pryzbilla.  People are up in arms and angry because it's been obvious that Miller is better than Blake and that Oden is better than Pryzbilla.  The most common arguments defending this arrangement are the fit, with shooting balancing driving.  I, however, believe that Nate is looking at his line-up in an unconventional, yet effective manner.   He is deliberately not playing all of his best players at the same time in an attempt to maximize the number of shots taken by offensively efficient players, which is one of the reasons that the Blazers had one of the top offensive efficiencies last year despite not getting fast break points.

Let's take the starting lineup that most fans want - Miller, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, and Oden.  If you start them together, then you have four offensively talented players (sorry Nic), but you still only have one ball to split between them.  It's a waste of talent on that end.  When they go out, Rudy, Blake, Travis, Joel, and Martell come in, and start dividing shots among themselves, which gets ugly since there's not a real penetrator among them - only Travis can really create his own shot among that group, and if you put the ball in his hands, then you get a stifled offense, as he doesn't have the distribution skills necessary to run the offense through him.  There's no one in that line-up that really pressures the opponent.

On the other hand, Nate's proposed lineup of Blake, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, and Pryzbilla puts two of our top 4 scoring options in a position to be assertive right away, with no need to call plays for the other three.  Then, when Miller, Rudy, Martell, Travis, and Greg come in, there are plenty of players to feature.  There is never a moment when the Blazers don't have two primary options to call plays for by mixing the line-ups this way. 

If you look at Nate's rotations last year, it becomes obvious that he doesn't have a traditional view of starting your best five players.  On the other hand, I do think that he tries to play his best players the heaviest minutes, no matter when they come in the game.  By not getting caught up in traditional basketball thinking, Nate gives this team the best chance to succeed.  It may be frustrating when the other team races out to a lead because we don't have our best line-up to start the game, but I've checked the rule book, and baskets scored in the first couple of minutes of the 2nd quarter count just as much as baskets scored just after the opening tip. 

Nate's rotation strategy is a whole-game view.  It's not a coincidence that this team specialized in coming from behind, like marathon runners that outlast sprinters in a mile-long race, because that's what Nate has set this team up to do.  He spreads his best offensive players out, instead of bunching them together, because that's the way he can maximize their shots over the whole game, which seems like a winning strategy to me.


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