I have been reading several books that cover the Celtics' championship teams of the 80's. In every one of them, the players mention how important Greg Kite was to their team. Greg Kite was never a starter, he never made an all star team, and he averaged 2.5 ppg and 3.8 rpg over his career. But yet, Larry Bird credits Kite with helping to make them a championship caliber team.
The value of Greg Kite wasn't in the games, it was in practice. Greg came to practice every day. His games were on the practice floor since he rarely got much playing time in the official games. He played very hard in practice and gave everything he had there on the practice floor and in doing so, pushed Robert Parish and Kevin McHale to have to play hard against him and thus lift their own games to a higher level.
That's not to say that Kite never contributed in a game. When he was called on to fill in due to an injury or foul trouble, he played his hardest and did the best job he could and had a few very good games.
Danny played on those teams in the 80's and knows first hand the value of having players who can push each other in practice. We have players that we hope will develop into dominant players, but we also have players that I have seen mentioned as never being more than good role players. Both are needed to make a championship team.
Brian Scalabrine fits into this category. Although Doc has tended to play him too much, his value should be in the way he plays hard in practice and helps to push his teammates to be better. Another player who works very hard in practice is Leon Powe. A Hoopsworld article today mentioned the fact that Al, Perk, Powe, West, Rondo, and Ray are all in Orlando working out together and Doc mentioned that they are working very hard. These players are pushing each other to get better. Leon Powe is a player who didn't get a lot of playing time last season but he certainly pushed Al and Perk in practice to become the best they could be. This kid has a work ethic second to none. I would love to see Powe's option picked up for this season because I think he can be a valuable member of this team.
Every off season Danny signs players like Pittsnogle, Allan Ray, Alan Akingbala, Will Bynum, etc to partially guaranteed contracts. I believe that many of these are meant to push the players currently under contract to play harder to win their spots. We may have a Greg Kite among the players that are on the fringe that Danny sees as being the one who can push the other players in practice to become a much better player. If so, that player will stick with the team even though they don't see much playing time in the present.
Last season Danny was quoted as saying that there will be worthy players who won't get playing time. But those players can still be a valuable part of the team by working their hardest in practice and being ready if they do get the call to do whatever is asked of them. We shouldn't underestimate the value of a Greg Kite type player in building a championship team. Danny needs to keep guys like Powe who will give all he has whether in practice or games. Every player isn't going to be a star, but they can all contribute in a big way even if they don't play big minutes. Don't underestimate the value of a Greg Kite.
Good stuff. The value of reserves is generally under appreciated these days. As a Laker fan, I always felt that Kite got away with murder against the Big Fella. But later, after watching Kite play for the Clippers, I thought he would have made a good addition to the post-Showtime Lakers. But then, they never called me and asked.