The debate over whether to win now or develop our young players has been going on ever since Danny started drafting high school players with Perk in the 2003 draft. Perk got all of 19 minutes his first season, which gave him time to work on his strength and conditioning. Since that first season, he has gotten 9 minutes per game and 19 minutes per game, with players like a very underwhelming Mark Blount and Raef LaFrentz getting playing time ahead of him. I can't help but think that if he was given more playing time, he would be a much better center today. As it is, he has steadily improved and continues to improve game to game. But who knows what he would be doing now if he had been given more time all along. I wouldn't hesitate to wager that if we had Ratliff and Kandi healthy, Perk still would be getting 19 or less minutes per game.
It isn't just Perk, either. Gomes didn't get a chance to play until the 47th game of the season last year and then he moved into the starting lineup and hasn't left it. Could we have won a lot more games if Gomes had been given a chance earlier? Why wasn't he playing? Would he be even better if he was given minutes earlier? I guess we will never know. And this year we have a player who promises to be dominant in the post in Leon Powe. But even after dominating in the two games he did get to play in, he has been on the bench with only cameo appearances. With the injuries to all of the other big men, it would seem that playing Powe makes sense. Doc says he doesn't get the offensive sets. But when he got a chance to play, he didn't show any signs of not getting it. So his being kept on the bench continues to be a puzzle, especially since he brings everything to the game that this team needs so much. He is also a better player than Scal, even as a rookie, who is getting minutes ahead of him. I have read too much about Powe's work ethic to believe that he isn't working hard enough to earn minutes.
Rondo is a very exciting young player. He has all the tools it takes to be a dominating point guard in this league. He has speed, instincts, and an already developed defensive mindset. But, he needs minutes to bring that game from the college mindset to the NBA mindset. 19 seconds playing time in a game isn't going to do it. As it is, he makes very few mistakes but the ones he does, he learns from and chances are, we won't see him make the same mistake twice. Doc needs to play him and we will reap the benefits by the end of the season. Gerald Green is getting more minutes lately, but he too could have improved a lot quicker with a few more minutes playing time.
We have so many young players who are talented basketball players, but yet have been lagging in the developmental department. Its not because they aren't as good as we think they can be; its because they're not being given the playing time to assimilate the speed and quick rhythm of the NBA, or get comfortable in their roles.
If you look around the league at guys who were drafted during the time our players were drafted, who are also about the same potential level; they are much more advanced than our guys in the same amount of time they've been in the NBA. And the difference is they've gotten the playing time to adjust to the NBA game and learn from their mistakes.
Take JR Smith for example. He's not a big time talent, but he's currently a big time contributor in Denver's offense. He's helping the Nuggets reach the upper echelon in the NBA. Is he that much better than any of our young wing players? No, he's not. But he was given a lot of playing time in his 1st two years in the league, whether he was playing well or not and now in his 3rd year, he's finally putting it all together.
Same with Monta Ellis and Andres Biedrins. Under Don Nelson, these guys have been given the green light to play their games and they have rewarded him with very impressive numbers for such young guys. They were allowed to develop their games with a lot of playing time and that's the quickest way to get the nervousness out of young players.
Any one of these guys, if they were on our team, would be buried on the bench and given only 6 minutes of playing time for the 1st few years of their careers. Even a guy like Josh Smith would be sidelined, wasting away his vast talents and potential. Maybe even Dwight Howard or Emeka Okafor would be far behind the level they are playing at now if they were on our team.
If Gerald Green were on the Warriors, he'd be pushing Jason Richardson. If Leon Powe or Al Jefferson were with the Lakers, they'd be the talk of the town.
Its time to give our young players the playing time they need. We are 4 - 8 right now and I'd rather have that record with Gerald and Jefferson playing a ton of minutes and Telfair and Rajon running the show. At least that way, they'll be more advanced next year and ready to take on much bigger roles and responsibilities.
I agree that I would rather have the record we have now with Perk, Rajon, Al, and Green getting more minutes and developing their games. We would be a lot closer to being a contender if they were.
I have to think that Doc is caught between a rock and a hard place in that playing the kids more minutes may result in more losses. And more losses means more boos by the fans and more calls for his job. But, playing Pierce 45 minutes per game and playing Scal ahead of Powe is only making the development of this team into a contender take twice as long. We have talented young players. Fans need to show patience as these players grow together and learn how to win as a team. I say roll the dice with our young players and let them play. We may lose a few more games now but by the end of the season, we will start seeing dividends that will extend much longer into the future than Scal's contract and possibly the contract of any player that we would bring in via trade.
This is certainly a topic of debate. Fans want to win right now, and honestly, who has fun following a losing team, right? But if we look at what we've got, the wisest thing to do is develop our young players as quickly as possible so we'll start winning as quickly as possible. Delaying their development just means more years of mediocracy, or making the playoffs but not getting anywhere. Our goal is to win a championship, but we can't get there if our young players remain young and inexperienced. Gerald needs to breakout, as does Jefferson and Telfair and Rajon and Powe. Perkins is already getting a lot of playing time (when he's not in foul trouble) as is Gomes. That's a good sign, but there are more young ones who need to be on the court as well, so its time to shed some of Pierce's and Wally's minutes and give it to Gerald.