Throughout the week, we will post a series of questions about the Cavaliers Rotation for the 2009-10 season that we imagine Mike Brown to be sitting at his desk with a number two pencil and some filler paper trying to work out answers to, in light of an off-season that saw the Cavaliers as a very active player.
Question 3 – How To Manage Shaquille O’Neal’s Minutes…
So how exactly does Mike Brown manage Shaq’s playing time during the regular season to allow him to find his rhythm personally, maintain his health, allow the the team to develop a chemistry playing with him, and to ensure that he – and the Cavs - are playing the best basketball of the season come playoff time? Tough question, but I have some thoughts on it.
First and foremost, this cannot be in anyway a Roger Clemens situation, where Shaq schedules to miss games, trips, and backends of back-to-backs to remain fresh in the same way that Roger only started home games during one of his many un-retirement campaigns. If he’s healthy, he’s gotta suit up. The Cavaliers were a good team last season without Shaq, and they won 66 games not by getting by on raw ability, but by outworking their opponent every night during the regular season. Sure they ran out of firepower against Orlando, and Shaq now provides some of that missing punch, but if the atmosphere goes from grinding on a regular basis, to a country club type atmosphere where guys schedule mid-season siestas, that’s not good – I don’t care if that guy’s got his own reality show or not.
As far as games played goes, I’m hoping Shaq gets to 65. In that 65 Shaq, Mike Brown, LeBron, and the rest of the Cavaliers are going to have to figure out how exactly he fits into their offensive and defensive schemes, but that is a topic for another day. For now, we are just talking games and minutes, and if he hit that 65 game mark, that would mean he would be matching his career average for games played in a season. For some reason, I think that would be a good sign. Minuteswise, I’d like to see Shaq in the 28 mpg range during the regular season. In say 10-15 games against the upper echelon of the league I’d like to see that number stretched to the upper 30s, in order to get his legs under him for June and in the laughers, he can check in for 12-15 to balance that out.
How does that stack up with the last five seasons for the Big Fella? Since leaving LA, Shaq has averaged 30.3 mpg, and in that time played in an average of 47 games per year during the regular season. Is 65 asking too much? Yeah, sure could be, but last season he did play in 75, so who knows. Over his 17 year career he has played in an average of 35.7 mpg in that aforementioned span of 65 games per year.
Tuesday: Question 2 – Who’s On Active Roster?