Mike Woodson Speaks About the Bench

As promised, Sekou Smith delivers more about the surprise re-appearance of Acie Law and Solomon Jones Saturday night:

Just the sight of the five of them on the floor together caused heads to turn.

Five Hawks reserves playing together usually means they’re at practice. Five Hawks reserves on the floor together in a game, as they were in the second half of Saturday’s last-second win over Houston, is noteworthy.

And something, according to Hawks coach Mike Woodson, that likely will have to be repeated on a regular basis with the rigors of the NBA season.

I’ve got to get back to that somehow,” Woodson said. “And I know I keep saying that, but eventually we will. We’ll have guys in and out. I want to try to, at least, get to nine or 10 deep that we’re playing on a regular basis.

“But it sure would be nice to get some big leads and keep them so we could work all our guys.”

This is why I so frequently correct, fact-check, or just make fun of Mike Woodson quotes. I do not believe he tends toward understatement, subterfuge, or deliberate obfuscation. In complimentary terms, he appears to be too honest for any of those modes of speech. In more critical terms, he appears to lack the verbal communication skills to engage in such multi-purposed modes of speech.

Woodson genuinely does not believe that Acie Law is capable of playing 10 or 12 minutes a night backing up Mike Bibby. Or, he does not believe that Acie Law is capable of playing 10 or 12 minutes a night backing up Mike Bibby any better than can non-point guard of long standing, Flip Murray. I think it's time to stop wondering* why. 

Same goes for Solomon Jones but in his case, I'm completely with Woodson because

  1. Smith/Horford/Pachulia plus some spot power forward time for Marvin Williams is a good frontcourt rotation.
  2. Solomon Jones was never a good college basketball player.

*Though we can start wondering why Woodson seems to envision himself so passively with regard to who on his team gets playing time.

Acie Law fans can, I believe, take long-term encouragement for his NBA career in the following quotes from his teammates.

Josh Smith*:

"That has to be the toughest part for those guys. You come to work every day, and everybody wants to play minutes. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s nearly impossible to keep 12 guys happy that way, because everybody wants to play as much as possible. That’s why we have to be grateful for the times that they come in and do what they did [against the Rockets], because it’s a huge boost for our team."

Zaza Pachulia:

"I’ve been talking to Acie, especially just because I’ve been in that situation before. I think he’s done a great job. And he has to respect it, because it’s very hard to stay ready when you’re not playing. But this is professional basketball, and he’s a good young player and he’s showing good character by accepting his role the way he has.”

*How can a guy who can't but say something perceptive damn near every time he opens his mouth not be a moe self-aware basketball player?

Joe Johnson sounds like a guy who would welcome a lessening of his burden. Unless he's still thinking about Mike Bibby dragging in the fourth quarter in New Jersey:

"The bench definitely has to be effective in order for us to be a good team. There’s just no way the starters can play 40-plus minutes a game every night. So those guys have got to be ready whenever their number is called.”

Last word goes to the man in charge:

"When you’re learning to win everybody has to understand that and accept their role, knowing that whatever minutes I get I have to make them most significant minutes I can to help our team win basketball games. Because you never know when you’ll be called upon. And Acie was great for us, Solomon was great for us. You just never know what can happen, so you have to ready mentally and physically to do your job.”

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