Player A: I was drafted in the late lottery in 2011. This year I'm coming off the bench and getting close to 27 minutes per game, a bit behind my main competition for playing time on the team (a 30-something year old starter). This comes despite the fact that I'm scoring more than that player, rebounding better, shooting a higher FG%, and assisting more. Granted, I'm an inch shorter than that player, he has a bit better 3-pt %, and my coach likes the floor spaced, but my PER is about 20% higher. Earlier this year I went on a 3-game 30-for-38 tear. Within the week I went through a stretch where coach gave me only 21, 11 and 17 minutes of playing time. Nobody expects anything great out of my team this year. What's the harm in letting me develop with more playing time?
Player B: I'm a rookie center drafted in the late first round. Everybody described me as a bit of a project -- with not-very-developed skills, but intriguing athletic attributes. I'm a third team center, playing (or rather nearly never playing) behind a journeyman born in 1986. This player getting the backup minutes in front of me once seemed to have potential, and he even had some very high offensive win-share numbers early in his career. But those days are over. He's far from a good offensive player any more. He can play competent defense, to be fair, but he's not much of a rebounder. He hardly seems like a long-term solution. Why not give me a better shot to see what I can do? When I have played, I've been top-20 in rebounding and block percentage.*
Before revealing these players' coaches, I want to advocate a bit for slowing down in criticizing Corbin. It worries me greatly that the team so often puts up poor performances and that there's little to suggest that the Jazz are anywhere close to consistently carrying out coherent game plans. Corbin's rotations often perplex me. It won't bother me much if Ty isn't kept on, though I think he's a credit to the organization in some ways. But it does bother me the lengths that Corbin's critics seem to go in finding any potential flaw to blow out of proportion.
Remember last year when this board was all about Corbin's incompetence when the (young) guys with the best +/- stats during certain games weren't given enough minutes? Against Portland, only three players had positive +/- stats: Biedrins, Harris, and Jefferson -- precisely the players nearly the whole board was saying should be given no or very few minutes. On this, there was virtual silence. I know the situation is completely different this year, and that, besides, +/- is a terrible stat when used game-to-game. But my point is that the specific fault we're finding in Corbin at any particular time may be something that we've used from the other direction against him in the past. (And, I must say, it astounds me that not only is there so much insistence that certain players MUST get adequate playing time in order to find Corbin's decisions acceptable, but also that there's so much vehemence that certain other players MUST NOT get much playing time. But to each, his or her own, I suppose.)
Or take the players/coaches I started with at the beginning of this post. While we're finding evidence that Corbin is a terrible coach because Jefferson plays more minutes than Burks, are we willing to say the same thing about Hornacek, whose coaching decisions with Markieff Morris and Channing Frye look almost identical from a certain point of view? Have we ever asked the question, in our zeal to make sure that vets don't play, whether Burks's 27 minutes per game are enough to allow for his development. I happen to think that a player who can't develop with 27 mpg really isn't going to have much of an NBA career, regardless. So I'm happy to see Burks's improved play recently. Or should we conclude that Frank Vogel has no business leading an NBA team because he couldn't find minutes for 2012-13 Miles Plumlee over Ian Mahinmi (*Plumlee's production necessarily comes from the 2013-14 season since Plumlee got less than 1/3 of the minutes all last season than Gobert has received this year so far.) Of course I know that these are not the only criticisms of Ty, but the way they're pursued on here sometimes would make someone think they are fatal flaws.
To tell the truth, I was worried about the support that looked like might be building for Gobert's/Rush's/Burke parents' tweets about playing time. For a fan base that remembers Stockton's later years, it seemed incomprehensible to me, even if we hate Corbin's coaching, to be publicly encouraging the Mark Jacksonification of players and people close to the team. I was glad to see that that theme didn't really take off.
Corbin's going to get heat for what's happening this year. Most people here are going to find him strongly deserving of that heat. I understand that. But I think it's worthwhile to occasionally slow down and ask which of our criticisms are really fair, based on what happens elsewhere in the league, or how we've criticized him in the past. There's enough to criticize him for without magnifying every little thing. (It seems a lot like a dysfunctional marriage, where every small habit the spouse has is blown all out of proportion, so that it's hard to judge fairly and see any good with the bad any longer.) And certainly, in the rush to push Corbin out the door, I hope we don't find applauding team dysfunction a worthwhile price to pay.