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Timberwolves coach helps explain why Rick Carlisle doesn't play rookies

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Although Sam Mitchell didn't directly address Dallas' situation, his insight into Minnesota's youth development helps show the challenges that Carlisle and the Mavericks face with Justin Anderson, Dwight Powell and the like.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Things that don't go together.

1. Tight biker shorts and designer scarves

2. Twitter and compassion

3. Applebee's and a sober evening

4. Rick Carlisle and playing rookies.

Around Mavs fandom, we've long debated Rick's use of rookies -- how much he plays them, how he develops them and so forth. The truth is the Mavericks haven't given Carlisle a whole lot to work with and the track record of successful young players to come out of Dallas is slim.

Dallas has long been a franchise dominated by veterans in the Dirk era that it's really easy to thirst for the unknown. The possibilities of rookies and young talents far exceed the possibilities of Greg Buckner and Charlie Villanueva.

That doesn't always mean that playing rookies is the best course of action. The MMB staff has recently debated this and I usually flip between the two sides -- I want the Mavs to develop and play young talent to move forward when the Dirk-less timeline arrives. I also understand that rookies and young talent aren't necessarily as ready as we'd like to think and there are things that we either don't see (practice) and things that are hard to see (small basketball minutia difficult to analyze watching live basketball) that can impact a game regularly. For a team all about winning, it's easy to see why youngsters don't get burn.

Which brings me to this fascinating Q&A with Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell by Britt Robson for MinnPost.com. In it, Mitchell gives some insight you rarely see from coaches when discussing their teams with the public. Since Minnesota is a rebuilding team with a young core, the discussion of developing those young players came up.

Particularly, the discussion about T-Wolves guard Zach LaVine was very interesting and made me think about the Mavs, Carlisle and playing rookies.

We have to teach them how to set a proper screen at the right angle. We put in something today and the difference is the angle of the screen. [He stands up to demonstrate, showing that the Wolves were setting screens in a manner that compelled opponents easy access to the player with the ball.] I'm saying, "Now why would you set a screen that way when we want are trying to get [the opponent] to go the other way?" And they looked at me, so I said, "OK, let me show you how to set the screen."

These are things that veteran teams just take for granted. We have to teach all of that. So, OK, people think, "Well you told them." But how long does it take to break bad habits, habits that you have had ever since you started playing basketball? You can't just do it by telling them once. If no one has ever taught you how to set a proper screen, I have got to show you Monday, I have got to show you Tuesday, I got to show you Wednesday, on tape Thursday, on tape Friday€” until it becomes second nature.

So how long does it take? For every guy it is different. The great ones, like KG€” [snaps fingers]. Man, KG just picked it up. Other guys, it takes a while. But that is the difference between winning and losing. That is the difference between you being able to get down here [motions at spot on floor] with your first dribble instead of your third dribble. It makes all the difference.

It's fascinating insight. When we watch young guys like Justin Anderson and Jeremy Evans, we think of just the possibilities of their play and how they should play. Evans is a high-flyer, Anderson is a defensive monster with a three-point shot.

But what if Evans doesn't know how to properly set a screen? Or Anderson takes a dribble when he shouldn't, or doesn't read a set the right way?

We don't notice those things because they don't impact the score of the game directly. When Anderson, Evans or other young Mavs are playing, we assume they're getting yanked for a turnover or a missed shot. Or if they get yanked and that isn't happening, we wonder why.

There's much more to basketball than we regularly see when watching a game casually and even professionally. Read the full piece for more examples of how Mitchell has to teach LaVine things you wouldn't think a pro player needs to be taught. It makes you wonder what Carlisle is seeing that we don't and can ease the frustration of watching Charlie V launch bricks from the stripe. Well, maybe a little at least.