Most coverage of the rotation rightfully focuses on who's in and who's out, who starts and who sits, who plays more and who plays less. That's the correct first area of emphasis: a team gives itself the best chance to win a basketball game by having its best players out there as much as possible. However, there's also an important "fit" component. Each five-man unit should be designed to bring out the best in each other. This fanpost is an attempt at making such a rotation. I've followed the following rules in attempting to build a feasible rotation:
(1) All players we currently have under contract are considered for playing time (yes, that means Rudy).
(2) RAMBO should start, because those five are our best players at each position.
(3) Starters get 32-38 minutes, except Oden, who gets 25 until he shows he can stay on the court.
So beyond the starters, which blends of bench players and starters can mesh together and ensure the Trail Blazers are a great team from the opening tip to the final horn.
I am on the record as stating playing backup point guard with Webster and Fernandez on the wings did a disservice for the production of all three men. Players like Rudy and Wesley Matthews (or Martell Webster) need a player with better court vision and passing skills than Bayless currently possesses. Bayless is also better served by playing alongside someone who can handle some of the play-making responsibilities--someone like Brandon Roy. Finally, if the Blazers have any interest in using Bayless as a starting point guard after Andre hangs up his sneakers, he needs to get some minutes alongside Brandon. Finally, with two high-usage penetrators in the backcourt, Marcus Camby, one of the league's great garbagemen, would make hay on putbacks. He also knows his role well enough to not expect any plays to be run for him.
Potentially ideal grouping II: Miller-Fernandez-Oden
What kind of player can bring the best out of Rudy Fernandez? Maybe a guy who's one of the best lob passers in the game? A fabulously talented and unselfish pure point guard, who's as comfortable finding the open shooter on a drive-and-kick as throwing the perfect kick-ahead for a fast break dunk? There's no doubt in my mind that Rudy would play better basketball alongside Andre Miller than he did last year with alongside Jerryd Bayless. Beyond chemistry, Rudy would play better alongside guys who can create offense like Greg and Andre. Greg is incredibly efficient and demands a double every time he touches the ball. Andre is a crafty penetrator. Rudy will thrive playing off the extra attention the defense gives these guys, allowing him to showcase his abilities against stretched defenses. We all remember Rudy getting the ball on the wing against a set defense, dribbling around a pick a half a dozen times, then heaving an awful shot because he couldn't create an advantage. Let's not make him do that any more.
A Miller-Fernandez backcourt is also perfect to maximize Oden's production. Rudy and Andre are both very good lob passers and post-entry passers. Upon giving the ball up, they also move purposefully and look to get it back. This works well with Oden, who is a willing passer out of double teams and has good vision looking for cutters to the basket. Although he has not yet shown great passing statistics, given sustained playing time with perimeter players who make themselves available, he will produce.
Converting groups into a rotation
Here's a simulated rotation for a second half:
5:00: Camby for Oden. Lineup is Roy, Aldridge, Miller, Batum, Camby
7:00: Bayless for Miller. Lineup is Roy, Aldridge, Bayless, Batum, Camby
9:00: Matthews for Batum. Lineup is Roy, Aldridge, Bayless, Matthews, Camby
11:00: Fernandez for Roy, Miller for Bayless. Lineup is Fernandez, Miller, Matthews, Aldridge, Camby
1:00: Oden for Aldridge: Lineup is Fernandez, Miller, Matthews, Camby, Oden
4:00: Roy for Fernandez, Batum for Matthews, Bayless for Miller: Lineup is Bayless, Roy, Batum, Camby, Oden
5:00: Aldridge for Oden: Lineup is Bayless, Roy, Camby Aldridge, Batum
7:00: Miller for Bayless: Lineup is Roy, Aldridge, Miller, Camby, Batum
8:00: Oden for Camby: RAMBO for the last four minutes
Minutes breakdown (multiply by two for a full game):
PG: Miller = 17; Bayless = 7
SG: Roy = 19; Fernandez = 5 (I'd probably give Roy a longer break in the first half to get Rudy's minutes closer to Jerryd's 15)
SF: Batum = 17; Matthews = 7
Bigs: Oden = 13; Aldridge = 20 (maybe Dante gets a few spot minutes); Camby = 15
To me, this is a pretty realistic approach to the rotation. It doesn't quite feed all the hungry mouths at the small positions, but a basketball team's first goal is to win games. I appreciate your input in advance.