It's becoming clear that Vinny needs a little help figuring out lineups and rotations. This preseason has worn away a lot of the hope I had for Vinny's coaching. At least he didn't actually start Gray and bench Tyrus, but Vinny has left the impression that he might succomb to any stupid idea after this preseason. Starting Thabo is probably the smallest crime he could have committed so I'm trying to look at that positively. If starting Thabo is what Vinny is going to do then this is what he needs to do.
*If Thabo starts, Gordon replaces him before the 6 minute mark in the 1st quarter.
*Hinrich comes in for Rose, and he can play with Gordon, while Rose rests. Rose comes in for Gordon, and Hinrich moves to SG. Then Gordon comes back in for Hinrich to close the half.
If Thabo's spot in the starting lineup only amounts to 10-12 minutes in the backcourt, it's okay and actually makes the rest of the rotations easier. Gordon still gets his 32 minutes at SG. Hinrich hopefully comes in aggressive off the bench, which is when he's at his best. Hopefully he's effective enough to keep Rose from wearing out, and he can get 4-8 minutes in at SG. If Thabo is going to start this makes the best use of the four guys.
*Deng plays 36+ minutes at SF, Thabo backs him up. Nocioni's days of playing SF are over unless there is actually someone Nocioni can guard on the floor at SF.
*Thomas starts at plays every minute his foul situation allows. It's time for the team to play its best and most talented big man.
*Noah can come off the bench, but he should be playing every minute his foul situation allows as well.
*Gooden can start at C if the matchup is okay. And he competes with Nocioni for minutes behind Thomas.
*Nocioni only plays backup minutes at PF, except for very specfic matchups at SF.
*Aaron Gray only plays meaningful minutes when Tyrus is on the floor with him. No Noah, and especially not Gooden or Nocioni.
The team really only needs a true center that could play 15-20 minutes per game to make the frontcourt rotations work. Thabo backs up Deng, Nocioni backus up Thomas, and Noah backups the new guy, but plays the bulk of the minutes at C. Vinny doesn't have to mix or match, it's simple 1 for 1 substitution. Gooden is the easiet piece to move, and I think Paxson should be trying to move him for a Rasho Nesterovic or similar player as soon as possible. Gooden isn't that big an upgrade over Nocioni as a backup 4, and his ineptitude defensively at center is a problem. And the team shouldn't be wasting shots or possessions on Gooden in his contract year. And I'd just as soon not leave the temptation around for Vinny to bench Thomas.
I think the team can work like that, and wins games. The talent is there, but it needs to be used properly. There are only a couple fo ways to make this collection of players work, and dozens of ways to turn this into a Jim Boylan like mess. So far it's feels like Vinny is headed toward creating a mess with either Larry Hughes, Aaron Gray, Drew Gooden, or Thabo. I hope to be pleasantly surprised tonight, but this preseason has worn much of the goodwill Vinny had coming in.