Eight more teams played games yesterday, so here is eight more observations for each of the teams.
Milwaukee Bucks – Limit the Korver minutes
No one can deny Kyle Korver’s greatness as a shooter, he’s one of the best ones of all time. But when the playoffs are here, it may not be the greatest idea in the world to play Korver 15 minutes per game. Korver is definitely a team player and any team in the league would be lucky to have him, but one of the Bucks flaws when push came to shove against the Raptors in the playoffs was the refusal to increase Giannis’ minutes.
Cutting back some of those minutes from players that are closer to replacement level will help the Bucks when things get tough. Even though his numbers look decent (6 points on 2-4 shooting from three) he looked even slower at times than usual.
San Antonio Spurs – More multiple guard lineups
Since the San Antonio Spurs are missing LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles, they finally went with a lineup that some fans have been looking forward to – the one filled with the younger guards: Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV. Joining them in the starting lineup was DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.
It’s hard to see those three guards together given the fact that DeRozan plays so many minutes, but it’s a lineup that has to be explored more because of the unlikeliness of a Spurs playoff appearance. Despite the loss, all four guards shot the ball well in limited action.
Indiana Pacers – Let the shots fly from the bench
If you search up underrated in the dictionary, the Indiana Pacers logo would be there.
One of the aspects that makes them underrated is their surprisingly deep bench. More specifically, the Holiday brothers. Justin led the Pacers in scoring off the bench, scoring 16 points while hitting four threes while Aaron had 13 points himself, even though he had no assists.
Making up for that was T.J. McConnell, who had six. Surprisingly quick, he pushed the pace in transition and was routinely able to find the open man. Even Doug McDermott was able to score 10 points and T.J. Leaf brought down 11 rebounds.
It may not be the strongest lineup based on name value, but it’s one where the Pacers can pick and choose which guys to play more minutes.
Portland Trail Blazers – How will the big man rotation be balanced with the returns of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins?
It has been over a year since Jusuf Nurkic played a game in the NBA and it looked like he didn’t miss a step, putting up 14 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes. His partner in crime in the front court, Zach Collins, also returned from a shoulder injury and was also pretty solid for a first game back.
This leaves massive questions for two guys who were starting in the front court at various times this season; Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside was unavailable in this game so this is a question for another day, but Melo slid up to the small forward position.
Defensively and offensively this probably isn’t optimal just because he’s too slow to guard small forwards and isn’t the greatest spacer in the world but given the available options left on the roster, Melo may just have to play the small forward position in the interim.
Los Angeles Lakers – Kyle Kuzma still doesn’t fit with the Lakers
In today’s scrimmage against the Mavericks, Kyle Kumza led the Lakers in minutes. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the bench, this should have been his time to show tangible improvements in either his three-point shooting or his defence.
Instead it seemed like he doubled down on being an inefficient scorer who plays an isolation heavy game. He had nine points on 4-13 shooting with seven rebounds, but instead of passing it out and capitalizing on transition opportunities he decided to slow the offence down and bring the ball up for himself.
The Lakers bench almost plays like a carbon copy of the starting lineup, but one player doesn’t seem to know what his role should be.
Dallas Mavericks – Can you play Boban meaningful minutes?
Unlike Kuzma, when LeBron James and Anthony Davis hit the bench Mavericks center and cult hero Boban did capitalize on his opportunity and made the most of it, scoring 17 points in total and pulling down 13 rebounds.
He also showed flashes of a post game while being guarded by Dwight Howard. With the injury to Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein opting out of the restart, there’s minutes at that spot depending on the situation.
Utah Jazz – Do you need a bench?
For the majority of their scrimmage against the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz kept their rotation short at eight guys – the starters, Jordan Clarkson, Georges Niang, and Tony Bradley all played at least 13 minutes. Outside of that seven guys played less than 10 minutes.
Some of them were definitely end of the bench guys, but Utah purposely cleared roster spots to give those guys a chance. This would be the chance to give them an extended run, and see which ones they can plug and play into their set rotation. Otherwise they’ll look like Houston, and you know what happens when Houston is around Utah.
Phoenix Suns – Can the younger guys step up?
The Valley Boyz are missing two key rotation guys that play two important positions in basketball – Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes who both tested positive for the coronavirus.
Two guys who stepped into those roles were both drafted in the 2015 draft. Cameron Payne, who was signed three weeks ago, looked like a legitimate NBA player at the point guard position. Not the best at finding the open guy, but was able to exploit mismatches and score efficiently.
Filling in for Aron Baynes was Frank Kaminsky, who got lost in the shuffle sometimes in this game but filled in offensively. It’s unlikely that they will get real minutes in an attempt to make the playoffs, but similar to Utah they have plug and play potential.