FanPost

On coaching and playing the young guys

Inevitably, a lot of fans are going to be calling (some already are) for the Blazers to play more of the bench warmers. In theory, this makes sense. The season has no championship aspirations, so why not throw out young talent to see if they have ability? What could be wrong with that?

The reason the coaches aren't, won't, and shouldn't be doing this is best described by comparisons to baseball. In baseball, once a team is hopelessly out of the hunt, it's common to bring up promising minor leaguers to see what they have and give them a taste of The Show. Often those players are given many at-bats, even if they struggle wildly. Still, the experience can be helpful. It can demonstrate to those players that what the coaches have been telling them is true; how just because you crush AAA fastballs doesn't mean you're ready for the guile and changing speeds of MLB hurlers.

What you won't see, hardly ever, is a minor-league player given late-season starts if his defense is atrocious. The reason is other young players are getting their opportunities, too, and if a young pitcher is trying to gain confidence and savvy it does him no good when his fielders botch routine outs. In "The Untouchables," Robert De Niro gives a famous speech vis-a-vis the difference between offense and defense. At the plate, you're on your own. In the field, eight other players depend on your competence. In basketball, four other players depend on your competence every minute.

The Blazers are trying to develop a top prospect in Lillard, an unknown talent in Leonard, and see what they have with Freeland et. al. It simply won't do the promising youngsters any good to put them on the floor with guys who demonstrate no team ability in practice. Leonard can't learn switches on picks if his switch-buddy has no idea where to go. He'll have to leave his assigned position and try to help; that sort of thing instills bad habits.

I doubt the Blazers signed Pavlovic, Jeffries and Price out of love for their raw talent. I imagine they chose guys who were professional and know how to follow a coach's gameplan. They're on the roster and will get minutes whenever their potential replacements can't execute the basics. If Barton or Klaver, or whomever, is losing floor time to the dull vets, it's probably not because the staff is delusional enough to think those dull vets have more upside. It's because playing the bench jockeys for the sake of seeing them would hurt the progress of others displaying a faster learning curve.

If the DNP-CD folks aren't getting as much exposure as we'd like, keep this in mind.

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