First, beginners learn punching and kicking, knees, elbows, tai sabaki, footwork, guarding, power and moving. With lots of pad work and pairing up.
Then they move on to learning stances and uke, along with such applications as simple wrist grip escapes, strikes and locks.
We do very little "line work" (performing basic techniques up and down the dojo). Stances can be learned in drill sequences or small patterns. The other techniques are mostly learned through pad work and training with a partner in a variety of fixed or freestyle ways.
When students learn stances we don't do any hand techniques. When they learn hand techniques we just use a basic fighting stance. When they are competent with both it is little effor to bring the two together.
From there they learn how to relax and flow by the use of push hands exercises and what you might call lock and flow drills.
Then they learn sufficient "classical" basics to be able to get through a kata in one piece, and so get involved in bunkai, combat drills and various sparring methods.
On Thursday night, for instance, and just as a play about, I took a group of red/yellow belts through pinan godan. They picked up the kata after 10 minutes or so. The class continued with a variety of bunkai studies from several of the movements in the form.
So once the students are ready for kata they have up front some drills, applications, basics and an understanding of movement and direction.
It works for us. It's not so much about why study basics, or indeed which basics - but *how* to study them.