The 6-man rotation: NC State’s depth problem

Almost every coach likes to tighten their rotations as the season wears on. Eight or nine guys seems to be a good fit, with occasional forays into seven. But there are teams which make due with less. This typically isn't a choice though, it's just that those teams don't have any depth.

Where would NC State be if CJ Leslie had opted to turn pro? They've been running a six-man rotation for most of the year, and Leslie is one of five who play more that 73% of the team's minutes. TJ Warren, the 6th man, plays over 63% of the minutes.

In total, 19.8% of the minutes come from the bench (336th nationally), and that includes Warren who plays as many minutes as a typical starter.

This could all work out fine for the Wolfpack. Maybe they'll stay out of foul trouble (last night vs. Wake Forest not included). Maybe – unlike Duke, Florida State, North Carolina,  and Miami – they'll survive the season without suffering an injury to a major player. Though an injury or foul trouble come March could doom them.

Here are the minutes played by players outside the Wolfpack's big-six. The red line is the minutes for each of their 19 games, and the black line is the running average for the season.

It's clear that NC State has a serious depth issue. What is unclear is how badly it is going to come back to haunt an otherwise exceptionally talented team.