Gregg Popovich is undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the league right now, and a key part of his success is his decision to rest players. Rather than push them to the limits and risk injury, he’s willing to rest starters and take a loss in the short term if it means staying healthy and competitive in the long term.
Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons head coach, disagrees with his philosophy. He thinks players who get paid the money they do should play in the 82 games they sign on for.
“Look, I’m not one to do it,” he told reporters, according to Michael Scotto of the Associated Press. “Our guys get paid to play 82 games. Everybody that’s healthy will play for us every single night, but that’s just us. Unfortunately, you’ve got to be willing to – as a coach now – you’re going to get criticized for that. If you try to win every game, you get criticized for that now. You don’t have a long-term vision and you’re short-sighted. That all may be true of me, but we’re going to put our best guys out there every night and try to win.”
His team is 3-2 so far, without the help of star Reggie Jackson. His found success in his backups, namely Ish Smith and Beno Udrih.
“It’s been a little surprising to me the guys being rested already. I mean, are guys really worn down already? We’re four games into the year and guys are resting their players. That part has been surprising to me. I know it’s a league-wide trend as we get into the season, but I really didn’t expect to see it the first week to be quite honest.”
He says he doesn’t intend to follow suit with the rest of the league because he thinks his strategy is fine the way it is.
“I don’t think you have to rest guys game night,” he said. “I think it’s fine if people want to, that’s their choice and people have done it very effectively. I think every team and every guy is a different situation. It’s just not the way we’re going to do things and I’ll take whatever criticism comes with that.”