I watched the Spurs kick the Timberwolves in the face tonight.
San Antonio rolls by 29 in a slow kill. Minnesota was missing its top players, like Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio. San Antonio was not missing its top four players and the rest is history.
Except for the fact San Antonio’s reserves got into the act. You see, one of the biggest saving graces for the Spurs over the last three seasons has been a reemergence of their depth. Tony Parker now has a point guard (Cory Joseph) who can spell him. When Patty Mills went down for half a season, the Spurs didn’t panic. Tim Duncan plays less than 30 minutes a night, and occasionally on back-to-backs, not at all. The only Spurs player getting heavy minutes is Boris Diaw. They even sat Kawhi Leonard down in this game. The Spurs understand heavy workloads lead to players wearing out earlier, in seasons and in careers. It’s why Tim Duncan has been able to play at such a high level for this long.
Tonight, Aron Baynes got enough playing time to amass 12 points and 9 rebounds. I was hoping Baynes would achieve the highly overrated “double-double.” On another team, he’d be a stiff, playing 1-2 minutes a game. On this team, he gets a lot of garbage time to get better. Baynes gave them a 10/7 in last years playoffs when needed. You’ve got to understand, there’s a reason Baynes gets minutes now, and it’s not just because of a blowout or Splitter’s hurt.
Oklahoma City is going to contend this season, because they’ll get Westbrook and Durant some rest during these significant injuries. Then they’ll play them 45 minutes a game where one of them will break down again. That’s because most coaches can’t coach and make their backups into role players like Baynes. Most people don’t realize, just about every player in the NBA can play. Some coaches don’t even try to develop backups into role players. It’s a lot easier to ride your stars till they break down, and throw your hands in the air.