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Kanter and Favors on the Bench to Stay: If You Look at Just the Right Angle, Stan Van Gundy Looks a Lot Like Tyrone Corbin


There's a lot of Tyrone Corbin hate in the world. Some of it I feel is deserved, some isn't. A great deal of the dissatisfaction and frustration stems from his insistence on playing veterans over younger players of roughly equal current ability (or, it could be argued, superior ability). I've long maintained this criticism of Ty is unwarranted.

Turns out Stan Van Gundy - a man frequently cited as a wish list candidate to replace Ty - agrees, at least in regard to getting Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter more minutes at the expense of a healthy Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap.

Only two days ago (March 6th) on local radio station 1280 the Zone, David James and Patrick Kinahan asked Stan Van Gundy whether Favors and Kanter deserved more significant roles on the team during the stretch run given their upside, importance to the team's future, and recent strong play. Here is Stan Van Gundy's reply, verbatim:

"I would think, ideally, you want to maximize what you have in a playoff run. You're in a situation of trying to hold off the Lakers, which is not going to be easy. A very difficult schedule for the Jazz. You know, their eleven road games, seven of them are against playoff teams. They've got five road games against playoff teams. It's pretty easy right now for the young guys, and fans have to understand: you have to love what you've seen out of Favors and Enes Kanter, and going forward, that's promising. But those guys are playing in situations right now where expectations are low, there's no pressure on them. It would be a lot different if you're going down the last two weeks of the season battling for playoff position, and you're counting on those guys. I'd much rather be counting on Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, guys who have been in that situation. Let Kanter and Favors continue to come off the bench, and then decide where you want to go in the off-season" (bold added for emphasis).

Tyrone Corbin's stubborn preference for playing veterans is not a character flaw. It is not a unique result of his own journeyman career as a player, some vendetta against any young upstart trying to push aside an established guy. It is not really a Ty Corbin trait at all. It is a classic characteristic of NBA head coaches.

Criticize the time young players have received this season all you like (I will probably agree with you), but don't make the mistake of thinking this is a Ty issue. It isn't. On this matter, there is very little difference between our so hated novice coach and the often-idealized Stan Van Gundy. And they aren't alone.

A few months ago, Jeff Van Gundy said pretty much the same thing, that young players erratic time was a given as they are less "reliable." Note that word again. Not exciting. Not "the future." Not potential. Reliable.

NBA coaches aren't fans; they aren't eager to find new combinations and lineups to tinker with in hopes of a never-before seen result. Coaches are trying to push buttons to create specific results in a dynamic situation. They want predictability, even if that predictability doesn't come in the form of All-Star play.

Coaches want to feel the decisions they make give them a measure of control over the outcome of a game. Push the Derrick Favors button, and you might get 17 and 15 in three quarters - or you might get more fouls than points or rebounds in a game. Paul Millsap is going to give you 10 points and 5 rebounds or better 80%+ of the time. That's a far more precise tool than Favors, and coaches want some confidence that when they pull a particular player's card, they're going to get a fairly predictable result.

Rick Adelman is a veteran coach with a .592 winning percentage and nearly 1,000 wins to his name. The guy can coach. Earlier this year when someone covering the Wolves asked Adelman why he wasn't playing young players to get them experience given all the injuries the team had suffered, the reporter described Adelman's response as "a blank stare," as if he couldn't even comprehend the question. (Sorry, can't remember if it was a color announcer or a beat reporter who asked that question.)

Does anyone remember what the team was really like under Jerry Sloan? Here and there I read people fantasizing how wonderful life would be with Sloan leading an unfettered C4 into the future, spitting fire and striking fear into the rest of the league. Jerry Sloan, the same guy who sat Deron and ended Morris Almond's career stillborn?

If Sloan had coached this season, the C4's minutes would look an awful lot like they do under Ty. The same is true of the Van Gundy brothers, and Rick "About-to-Enter-the-1,000-Win-Club" Adelman. It would be true under nearly any coach.

Because coaches like veteran experience and known quantities where fans love young upside and tantalizing potential.

There is plenty to disapprove about Ty that really is about Ty: his lack of a definitive coaching "stamp" on the team, his basic-to-the-point-of-being-primitive systems, his public derision for analytics, and more. But playing Jefferson and Millsap as Favors and Kanter stew on the bench? Don't blame Ty for that. He's a head coach. It's just what they do.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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