I am coaching two AAU basketball teams this Spring, and I did not have any input in selecting the players for either team. The reality is that each team has a 6 or 7 player core that can function at a certain level of play. The remaining 4 or 5 players on each roster are clearly below that threshold level of play. Between tournaments and a local league, we will play a lot of basketball, and some of these games will not be particularly competitive enabling everyone to play significant minutes.
The problem is in competitive games where many of the bench players are incapable of having a positive impact on the game. The opponent and circumstances of each game impose demands upon a team that must be addressed for the team to competitively function. All too often this Spring, I have looked down at the eager faces on my bench, and felt this or that particular player cannot help the cause. It is undoubtedly frustrating on both ends as I have no doubt that every player on both teams believes themself capable of making a play, and they are likely capable of doing so, but my concern is broader than just a fortuitous play and encompasses how the team functions as a five person unit.
First, a player must be able to defend someone on the floor or properly execute a defensive scheme. If not, you are willingly submitting your team to play with a competitive disadvantage.
Second, a player must offer some valued skill that facilitates offensive execution. This is not necessarily scoring, and can come in the form of ball handling, passing, screening, cutting and/or offensive rebounding.
There is the annoying, simplistic cliche that playing time is earned in practice. This holds true in situations where the roster is balanced from top to bottom, but where the roster is out of balance, it is an issue of player development and ultimately commitment level.
Players do not develop in two hour practice increments over the course of a Spring. They develop over hundreds of hours invested over time, and not just idle hours of mindless repetition, but hours spent outside the envelope of their comfort building skills they do not possess and do not come easily to them.