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
The New York Post reports that while over in the Old Country, D’Antoni hinted that he’s considering going up to eleven deep, based on the talent and focus of second round draft picks Landry Fields and Andy Rautins. Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor. From the Post:
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.