If you are a Twolves fan like me, you have probably watched Rick Adelman's Press Conference over and over again during the lockout. One quote that stood out to me is
"You got to figure out what each players strength is... the key is to find those strengths, put them into a position where they can be successful, and that's going to make the team successful."
If you are subscribed to the wolves youtube channel, he mentions this point several times throughout training camp and the preseason.
Now that we are 9 games into the season, people are questioning why we are still starting Darko, Wes, Ridnour, and Beasley and not starting Rubio and D-Will. To put it simply, the answer is player strengths. I don't have the time to go through every player and every possible lineup but as an example I'll use the Unicorn.
Ricky Rubio: Strength = Passing
Adelman does not start Rubio because he cannot utilize his strength with the starting 5.
Who is he going to alley oop to? Not Love, Darko, or Wes. I can only recall 1 alley oop to Beasley all season.
Who is able to roll and finish? I only see Love capable of handling Rubio's passes and finishing.
Who is able to hit the open 3? only Love with this small sample size of a season
It makes more sense to sub him in with Randolph, Tolliver, JJ, and Williams.
Who can he alley oop to? Randolph, Williams, possibly Tolliver.
Who can make a cut and finish (or draw a foul)? JJ, Tolliver, Williams, and sometimes Randolph.
Who can shoot a spot up 3? Williams, Tolliver, and JJ.
More importantly, there is improved player movement compared to the starting squad.
Sometimes he doesn't even sub Randolph for Love until later in the 2nd quarter to give Rubio 4 capable finishers and 4 shooters.
As a community, we tend to over analyze our team but what Adelman is doing isn't anything new. He has told us repeatedly his philosophy:
- Playing to the players' strengths,
- finding the right combination of players to win the game,
- learn, develop, and build going forward.
I am sick of hearing that he is playing the starters to save their egos or that Rubio and D-Will don't start to develop them. I don't want to hear that he plays Wes, Beasley, and Ridnour to build their trade value. We are only 9 games into the season folks. Players may get hot (Tolliver, Love) but they also have bad games as evident against the Raptors. We have seen flashes of good play from Darko, Beasley, and Wes offensively and defensively. We have also seen horrible and questionable play from the whole team. Maybe the simple reason is that the starting lineup is better defensively. So why not start our better defensive unit against the opponent's better offensive unit? I don't know.
I guess what I am trying to say is "In Adelman We Trust"
We're still in evaluation mode and especially with the lockout, short training camp, short preseason, and injuries, I applaud the turnaround Rick Adelman has orchestrated. In Hollinger's Power Rankings, the Wolves are #14 and have I mentioned that our defense has massively improved. These close losses are heartbreaking but the blame can not be put on the coach. He puts our beloved T-pups in position to win games and eventually they will learn how to. If we can wait two years for Rubio, we can wait two more years for this squad to turn into a contender and who knows, maybe NBA Champions.