If a John Deere tractor ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Let me preface this by saying that I am about as big a Jerry Sloan supporter as you can find out there.
(You knew this was coming–) However…
“It’s been so long and these younger guys seem to be playing pretty good to get started. I don’t know,” Sloan said when asked if Kirilenko would resume his starting role. “That’s a fair question; I just can’t answer it directly right now.” (desnews)
“Andrei’s been out how long? Two, three weeks,” Sloan said of a question whose answer actually is more like most of four. “You know, we need to get him back — but we also need to win. So how much do you play him if he’s able to play?” (desnews)
I didn’t say much when Ronnie P vastly outplayed first the injured Jason Hart in ’07-’08 and then the injured Brev Brev in ’08-’09, and you talked about never letting a guy lose his job due to injury, and stuck Ronnie P back at the end of the bench when Hart/Brev returned to the lineup.
This time, I have to speak.
When AK is ready to return, put him back in the starting lineup.
AK is more versatile than any player the Jazz have ever seen. Perhaps because of this, Jerry–a stickler for rules the likes of which the Jazz have never seen–has played AK in more roles than any player he’s ever coached. Starting, subbing, the 1, the 2, the 3, the 4, the 5–AK’s done it all. Just because he is versatile, doesn’t mean he’s not better at some things than others. Some of the roles were need-/injury-based; I get that. Does it put AK in a position to succeed? Not really.
This season, we found a situation in which AK succeeds like a mofo.
AK has been the definition of a team player. He says all the right things (which not everyone does). He says he doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench. He says winning is what’s important. He says he’ll do whatever’s best for the team.
He might even truly believe all that.
However, things just aren’t the same when he comes off the bench, and this applies to everyone. Look at Sap. His game is completely different when he starts and when he doesn’t, and it’s not because he’s sulking or not playing as hard. It’s because his role is different. When AK came off the bench earlier this season, we were a head-barely-above-.500-first-round-exit team. When he was starting, we were invincible, the team knew it, and it showed when they took to the court.
If you won’t believe me, believe Deron: “We definitely need A.K. to be successful. He brings a dimension to our team that nobody on this team can bring.” If AK had been coming off the bench all season, I guarantee you those words never would’ve come out of Deron’s mouth.