Doing Big Things With Small Numbers

In an era when coaches are constantly subbing in players to get the best matchups, it is refreshing to see a team play really well with such a small rotation. That is just what the Oakland Golden Grizzlies have done in recent years under Coach Greg Kampe. In Oakland’s narrow loss to Michigan State, the Grizzlies essentially played just seven players, while ten Spartans saw at least nine minutes of court time.

There are a lot of variables as to why coaches choose smaller rotations. Maybe the team is just not very deep talent-wise. Or some coaches may prefer to play only the most experience players, especially in close games.

It is extremely rare to see the Golden Grizzlies ever have a game where more than eight of their players log double-digits in minutes. College teams can do this because there is ample recovery time as teams very rarely have games on back-to-back days. Whereas in the NBA, teams may have brutal stretches of three games in four days. So they need to go deep down their benches to remain competitive, as each game is also eight minutes longer than in college.

Teams that use smaller rotations also tend to play smart, especially on the defensive end by not picking up silly fouls. Trust is also a huge factor, as a coach will put who he thinks his best players are on the floor and will live with the outcome, good or bad. With all of the analytics and algorithms that have made the numbers of sports interesting to talk about, it is cool to see teams limit the amount of substitutions and go into battle with a mostly set amount of players.

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