Everyone inside and outside the Kings’ organization has an opinion of whom Dave Joerger should play and why.
If Joerger plays a veteran, he’s playing him too much. If young player doesn’t play, he is holding that player back, and nothing seems to anger fans more than seeing Skal Labissiere or Justin Jackson on the bench.
Joerger, however, doesn’t care what you think about how he does his job. He has juggled the rotation – a lot – and he’s said some of the inconsistent play can be attributed to that. Joerger has used 14 different starting lineups, often with surprises just before tipoff to the annoyance of some media and probably more daily fantasy sports players.
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“You can’t play them all,” Joerger said.
The latest case was Labissiere, whom Joerger did not play for three games but started Friday against Phoenix. Joerger had already told Labissiere his minutes would go to Malachi Richardson and Jackson for a time and to prepare for the game he’d be back in the rotation.
“Mentally you kind of have an idea of, ‘I know I’m going to have some run here for X number of games, and I know I can make mistakes and not feel like I’m going to get pulled,’ which I generally don’t do a ton anyways,” Joerger said. “Also if you’re the guy and it’s not your turn, then you can do more of your work and spend more time and not worry about, ‘Am I going to play tonight?’ Go out and have a great game-day workout and continue to watch from the side and it’ll come back around.”
It came back around for Labissiere. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter Friday, but he did not play in the second quarter and only received 16 minutes total – the fewest among the nine Kings who played in the 111-101 loss.
And that’s how Joerger goes about his business. As for the input that comes from everywhere? It’s background noise. Joerger believes in what he’s doing, balancing minutes while protecting his youngsters from getting slaughtered nightly.
His job is to maintain a level of patience while developing an inexperienced roster that has yet to see a youngster emerge with star potential. How does he manage it?
“It’s just coaching,” Joerger said. “Day in and day out.”
The front office provides the players and discusses their progress and development with the coach, but allows Joerger to use the pieces as he sees fit.
Along the way, Joerger hears from all directions about who should play.
Labissiere has his supporters. There’s the crowd that wants to see Georgios Papagiannis given a chance to play. Why doesn’t Jackson play more? C’mon, Dave, give Richardson some run!
Until it comes back around, as Joerger says, there will be someone upset with what he is doing. Just don’t wait for him to be preoccupied with worrying about the chatter, because that’s not coaching.
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The Kings’ offense ranks last in the NBA at 97.0 points per game. While it was expected they would struggle for consistency in this area, to be the worst scoring team in the league is disappointing. Only three teams entered Saturday averaging less than 100 points and one of them (Miami) was at 99.9 per game.
With three straight days off this coming week, the Kings have plenty of time to practice after already playing 20 road games. That’s more important for the Kings than who is on the schedule.