FanPost

Put Me In Coach! (Charting minutes played for '13-14)

During the summer, so many questions evolved about what this team would look like with all the new additions, particularly regarding the depth chart and rotations. Would Robin Lopez be able to play heavy minutes? How much development time for Meyers? How much rest would the starters get?

It was during training camp that I decided I would start tracking how many minutes the players spent on the floor. My hope was to look past the box score and see if I can learn something about how our players are valued and utilized. Could I see into Coach Stotts's mind? What I have discovered over the first ten games is that these charts tell two stories. First they largely confirm the obvious. There are no revelations that defy the conventional wisdom. Secondly, they highlight a couple of trends that have received little attention. Let's start with a full graph of all the players:

Ptbmp_full_10games_zps73ae1d8c_medium

all photos via i838.photobucket.com

If there's a surprise here it's how consistently the minutes have been handed out so far. Stotts has occasionally been accused of playing games with his lineups, but there is little experimentation to be seen. The three tiers of players on the roster are easily recognized. Starters, bench, and deep bench all trend within distinct groupings.

The most interesting lessons to be learned here are hard to make out in this graph, so I'm going to break out some sub-groupings to look at the players in more detail. No better place to start than the starters:

Ptbmp_starters_10games_zps9f986ca0_medium

As I mentioned above, the different tiers of players all tend to play a consistent number of minutes, and the starters have the tightest grouping of the three. Damian started out playing the most minutes of everyone, but it appears that LaMarcus has edged past him in recent games.

We'll get into that shortly, but for now notice that one of our key questions has already been answered. Robin Lopez, who only played 26mpg last year, is not being held back. He's got the lowest avg of all the starters but there is no doubt that he's playing starter's minutes here. Of the three games where his minutes dropped, all were due to foul trouble. That brings us to the rest of the front court...

Ptbmp_bigs_10games_zpsf2c784ae_medium

The rotation of bigs has been a major storyline starting with the last game of the preseason. Here we see in numbers what we've been talking about. Meyers Leonard has been shut out of the rotation. The only game he saw time was due to Freeland's injury. Had he not been sick lately he might have gotten floor time vs. Toronto, but even that can be questioned.

In the debate about whether or not there should be minutes for Meyers to develop, the visuals make a sobering point: Meyers Leonard has been given the court priority of 2nd rounders and player-coaches. The other lottery pick, Thomas Robinson, has been given a steady if small diet of minutes from day 1. That's not accidental. It gives credence to the notion that Meyers is not showing enough in practice to justify dipping his toes in the water. I don't think it's far-fetched to imagine a D-League stretch for him in the future.

Now if you look more closely at T-Rob's minutes, you'll notice that they are gradually ramping up. Is this a sign of trust and an increasing role for Thomas? Sort of... We talked earlier about Damian and LarMarcus switching places as the leader in minutes. What I think we're seeing here is an increased use of a small ball lineup with LaMarcus and T-Rob on the floor together. Is this a deliberate strategic move, or a coincidental string of single-game tactical decisions? In the case of Toronto, it had everything to do with foul trouble for both Lopez and Freeland. I think a big question going into the next ten games is whether this is a pattern or a blip. Now lets examine what might be the most interesting sub-group of all, the back court:

Ptbmp_guards_10games_zps485361fd_medium

I present to you the biggest outlier on the whole graph, Mo Williams. With the exception of Game 3 which featured peak floor minutes for both Lopez and Freeland, Mo has progressively earned more and more time on the floor. In the last 3 games his minutes have been indistinguishable from the starters. The extra burn appears to have been taken from Lillard, Matthews, and Batum in equal measure. Conclusion? Mo Williams is not just our BUPG, he is a 6th man in the truest sense of the term. Was this always Coach Stott's plan? I suspect it was, but Mo's early shooting and turnovers made easing him in slowly an easy decision. Now? He's as important to this team as Ginobli is to the Spurs.

The evolution over the next ten games should prove interesting. Will Mo get reeled back if his shooting cools down? Will Dorell Wright fans ever be thrown a bone? For me, I'll to be watching to see how often we turn to the small ball lineup.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Blazer's Edge

You must be a member of Blazer's Edge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blazer's Edge. You should read them.

Join Blazer's Edge

You must be a member of Blazer's Edge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blazer's Edge. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker