Putting Bench Players in a Position to Succeed – A Look at the 2016 GS Warriors

Looking past the drubbing the Warriors received from the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors continue to carve out new approaches for the basketball world to emulate. Stop and consider: in the 104-89 Game 1 victory over the Cavs, a new example was forged when no one would have least suspected it.   For those who missed the details, the Warriors’ Steph Curry and Klay Thompson only combined for 20 points (or only 19% of the Warriors’ points) on 8-27 from the floor.  So, while Curry managed to squeak into double figures with 11 points, 5 of the Warriors bench players scored in double figures and totaled 80 points for the game.   This doesn’t happen at any level, let alone the NBA.  No team covers for sub-par performances by it’s two leading scorers-let alone players of Curry and Thompson’s stature and combined statistics.

How then does this happen?  Well, the easy answer is the NBA teams can make any moves they want to acquire players.  If that’s true, why aren’t the other 29 NBA teams in a similar position?

The truth of the matter is that Steve Kerr puts his bench players in positions to score 81% of his team’s points in an NBA final (not some barely meaningless mid-season game vs. a non-contender) because he places confidence in them, prepares them in practice and utilizes them in games-even at the expense of starters’ and stars’ minutes.  All of us, even those who can’t acquire players, can build our team depth by coaching up our non-stars, bench players and starters from day one and not regulating or putting a cap on their progress.

What do you do to prepare your bench players for the moment when they are called on to step up?

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