There are 48 minutes in every game. Typically teams have a 1-5 position alignment, but this has been getting hazier and hazier since at least when "Magic" Earvin Johnson played all five positions over his Laker career. I've seen pairings be used by a lot of teams to inject an element of defense or instant offense, or create some form of mismatch, but it always boils down to minutes. Players crave playing time above all else, and the way a team doles out playing time determines in great part their success.
KC Jones, the great coach of the Boston Celtics in the 1980's, often used just 6 to 8 players in games that were crucial. He would also play his starters as many as 40 minutes each. Typically unless a player is a super star 40 minutes is beyond the realm of possibility. That's not to say Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge weren't awfully, awfully good, if not super stars in their day. Yet, this much time is definitely draining and wears out players at any ability level.
I was thinking and wondering how this year's Pistons will distribute their minutes to their players. I'm not predicting, or able to say with any degree of certainty who will work the hardest to earn these minutes, but simply trying to estimate how the minutes might be allocated based on what I do know from last year's team and what I've read about new players. I just thought it would be fun to try to project the rotations and minutes likely to be played by the players on our roster.
At guard, Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight should be the primary pairing. It's possible they could rotate to some extent as the primary ball handler and being the off-guard, or shooting guard. Penetrating will likely be a focus of both guard roles. I believe that we will see these two players average at least 38 minutes per game. That leaves a combined 20 minutes roughly available to substitutes. Although different games may dictate different match-ups, and injuries can shift roles a great deal, I anticipate that Kim English will have an opportunity to earn substantial playing time. Will Bynum, I predict, will be primarily a reserve used if and when an injury occurs. If Corey Maggette proves effective at getting to the basket and drawing fouls, he may see some minutes at the off guard spot too. So, I predict English will average 12 minutes, Maggette 6, and Bynum, an overall average of just 2 minutes.
At forward, Tayshaun Prince I predict will be pushed by Kyle Singler for playing time. This is perhaps a reach, but I think that since Singler is younger, he may be given more attention to develop this season as long as he plays relatively well. Although Jason Maxiell may still claim his starting role, I anticipate his minutes declining as we see Greg Monroe shifted and groomed for this role. Charlie Villanueva might emerge as a surprise member of the rotation if he can consistently nail a three point shot and will be tougher than he has been in the past on the defensive end of the court. Maggette is likely to see time as the small forward too, and he would seem to be paired well with Villanueva. Jonas "JJ" Jarebko is another player that should see time, but I wonder to some extent if he'll be play more power forward than small forward as advertised at the end of last year - the addition of Maggette makes this somewhat less likely. As I've mentioned Greg Monroe will see some time at power forward as well as playing center, the same might be said for Vyacheslav Kratzsov and Ben Wallace as the position definition of power forward and center seem to merge (see my previous article discussing the concept of crashers and slashers as an evolution of the court positions).
To sort out all of this, there are 96 minutes of forward time and 48 minutes of center time to allocate. Here is a schedule of how I see this time being split:
|SF (3)||PF (4)||C (5)||G (1/2)||Totals|