Trail Blazer Coach Terry Stotts has found himself in an interesting situation after CJ McCollum’s recent knee injury has left the player on the sidelines for an as-yet-undetermined time.
Suddenly Stotts has those 34.1 minutes per game that McCollum has been playing, at his disposal. And he has several players worthy of playing them.
He has decisions to make. And those decisions are based on a wide variety of factors that are made more difficult because the Trail Blazer coach has a lot of options, many players capable of quality minutes. There is a lot to consider.
“I like guys having a run out there,” Stotts said Tuesday after his team’s practice. “I want to keep Dame’s minutes under control, who plays well with who else, some of it is matchup driven by the other team. It just depends.
“I don’t know if it’s difficult, I guess I have to take into account more things, probably.
“I do that twofold. One, if a guy is playing well -- and if the unit is playing well. Like I said (after Monday’s game), Zach played 15 straight minutes in the first half because he was doing well and that unit was doing well.
“I kept him in. Same thing with Chief in the third quarter. Chief got on a roll so he played the entire third quarter, and the team was doing well. When things aren’t going well, then decisions have to be made.”
And that would be why Collins played 15 first-half minutes but only seven in the second half.
“If Chief hadn’t played so well in the third quarter I was prepared to go back to Zach,” Stotts said. “But that wouldn’t have been fair to Chief.”
Damian Lillard, the team’s captain, thinks along the same lines as his coach. And probably the way most players would like the situation to be played out:
“I’m sure it’s tough,” Lillard said. “But if I were the coach, I would just play whoever is having the better game. That’s who would be out there. Next game might be a different guy, but that’s fair. That’s the way I’d do it.”
Stotts likes to stay with a player through the end of a quarter if he and the team are playing well. Does that mean he believes in what’s become a controversial topic – the “hot hand” theory, in which people believe players who have made a couple of shots in a row are more likely to make their next shot?
“It’s always a tough thing when a certain player has it going – whether it’s Dame or CJ or anyone – you let them play the quarter,” Stotts said. “You can’t take them out when they are on a roll.
“It’s easy to say leave him in now, but it does have consequences down the road -- rotation of other players, extending of his minutes.
“I believe in confidence. When guys are in a groove and confident of their shot I believe in that. But I always know it’s going to come to an end.
“A lot times when a guy is on a roll I’ll keep him in there until he misses a shot.
“To me, a hot hand sounds like poker. That’s more luck and superstition. But when guys are feeling good, biorhythms are good, shots tend to go in more.”