The Brisbane Bullets will resist the temptation to overuse star recruit Aron Baynes in his return to basketball despite their tough start to the NBL season.
Having been beaten 87-73 by the Wildcats in Perth in their first match of the new campaign last weekend, the Bullets are again on the road on Friday night against reigning champions Sydney before heading to Tasmania to meet the Jackjumpers, last season’s runners-up, on Sunday.
The last thing Brisbane wants is to start the season with three successive losses but Bullets coach James Duncan won’t push Baynes too far in the former NBA big man’s return to the sport after the career-threatening neck injury he suffered at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“People need to understand that (match against Perth) was his fourth game since the accident at the Olympics,” Duncan said.
“He couldn’t walk. It’s a great accomplishment that he’s playing professional basketball again.
“It’s our job to protect him and make sure that he’s just building up in the right way.”
It means that Baynes is no certainty to play against the Jackjumpers on Sunday.
“In a normal situation his body was used to (two games in three days) playing in the NBA,” Duncan said.
“It’ll be harder for him. We’re building him up, and we’re going to see how he goes on Friday night.
“I don’t think anyone should be expecting him to play 40 minutes in Sydney, but he’s a huge part of what we’re trying to do.
“He’s a competitor and he wants to stay out on the floor, but the coaching staff and myself have to manage him in the right way.”
Duncan said he “loved” that the Bullets had a tough draw to start the season.
“It’s a great challenge. Our intensity has to be there, (and) our focus has to be there,” he said.