Through the season's first week and a half, I've already heard a lot of complaints about the schedule, but I've seen precious little in the way of adjustments to it.Larry Drew joins Rick Carlisle, George Karl, Mike D'Antoni, and Gregg Popovich as the coaches managing their benches well:
This point was driven home watching the Clippers play the Bulls last Friday. Chicago, despite being on a back-to-back, played both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng 42 minutes. The Clippers did the Bulls one better; Caron Butler played 39 minutes, Blake Griffin played 42 and Chris Paul played 44. Did I mention all three players have had serious knee problems in the past two years?
And in looking at the early-season minutes trends, it's clear there's plenty of this going around. Despite a paucity of overtime games (which, of necessity, tend to skew the minutes numbers higher), the leaderboard in minutes per game doesn't look terribly different from how it did a year ago.
Seventeen players average at least 36 minutes per game; yes it's early and some of these numbers will drop due to foul trouble or other situations, but even at this early juncture I'm surprised.
Larry Drew's Atlanta team lost the battle Tuesday night, but the Hawks may be winning the war. Joe Johnson averages 34.5 minutes and no other Hawk is above 32.2. An early blowout of New Jersey helped skew those numbers down, but the Hawks have overused Johnson in particular in recent seasons and have managed him much better this season. As long as Tracy McGrady stays upright -- he left Tuesday's game with a knee problem -- Atlanta may be in good shape come May.