Mike D’Antoni hates the bench. That’s the been the common assessment for years, as D’Antoni’s rotations have almost never extended past eight. Not in Phoenix, not in New York. He trusts veterans and that’s about it. It has been a constant refrain of criticism as D’Antoni’s teams have been unable to hold leads after establishing them with his blitzkrieg style. Yet he’s stuck with it, until now
D’Antoni first mentioned the 11-man concept in Milan. And as he left Paris, it’s still in play. D’Antoni said he wants to press and run so fiercely, he needs bodies. The skeptical view is no eight-man unit has stood out, and they are showcasing guys for a Carmelo Anthony trade.
“We can play a lot of guys,” D’Antoni said. “We’re going to have to press, run and use more guys this year because they can obviously play.”
The skeptical view is probably off-target, because D’Antoni is unlikely to be willing to just cough up minutes in pursuit of a trade that is unlikely to occur. A move to an eleven man rotation could help considerably with defense. You know, that thing that everyone says D’Antoni’s teams suck at. It could also reflect an element of D’Antoni recognizing the success that Alvin Gentry has had with a more platooned approach. Energy and defense has their place, even if shooting the lights out isn’t on the docket.
If this is a legitimate change in philosophy and not just lip service (it is the preseason after all), it could help the Knicks a long way into getting to the playoffs. Getting rest for the starters and being more versatile in their matchups will just make them a better team. And D’Antoni is right. These rookies look a lot better than Jason Collins or the other marginal players he’s had at the ends of benches over the years.
Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.
Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)