(Image – NBA.com)
Basketball is back! Over the last two days the NBA has held scrimmages, marking the initial success of the NBA bubble. Two days into competition, three former Wahoos have seen the court, while the other four in Orlando are set to play in the coming few days.
While these are only scrimmages, and all players are generally playing limited minutes to allow everyone to get accustomed to playing again, we haven’t watched, talked about, or ranted about live basketball for four plus months. With that said, let’s dive headfirst into overreaction.
On Wednesday, Kyle Guy and the Sacramento Kings took on the Miami Heat. Guy played the final eight minutes of the forty-minute (ten-minute quarters) contest, scoring five points, dishing out two assists, and shooting 2-3 from the floor (1-2 from three-point range). The Kings lost 104-98.
Notably, Guy spent his time on the floor playing shooting guard. Twice, the Kings ran plays with the specific intent of getting Guy an open look from behind the arc. The first play, a pin down screen on the wing that Guy flew off of, resulted in a miss. The second, a complex action including a ball screen at the top of the key with the ball handler fading right, a backside stunt, and a curling Guy resulted in this gorgeous triple.
While it’s good to see Kyle hitting shots, and encouraging that the Kings are willing to draw plays up for him (even in a scrimmage), that’s not how he has to prove himself. Everyone knows he can shoot, but where Guy needs to prove himself is as a decision maker and as a defender.
On those fronts, Guy’s two assists suggest a development as a distributor. In fact, with the Stockton Kings (the Kings’ G-League affiliate) this season, Guy averaged 4.6 assists per contest. The majority of those feeds came off ball screens as Guy displayed his ability to break down a defense off the dribble. Off the games I’ve watched, it seems that Guy has grown more comfortable driving to the rim off of late closeouts or ball screens and then dishing to a teammate when the help comes.
In his limited time on Wednesday, Guy gave us a glimpse of just that type of play. When attacking an aggressive closeout, Guy pump faked and drove to the rim. When the Heat collapsed on him, he made this sweet dish to fellow rookie Justin James for the flush.
Defensively, Guy was by no means bad. His size (or lack thereof) as an off ball guard did get exposed by Jae Crowder in the post after Guy was forced to switch. Other than that, he played relatively sound positional defense on bigger guards including Tyler Herro. In fact, Guy even drew a few offensive fouls on illegal screens.
Guy and the Kings will play in another scrimmage on Saturday against the Bucks at 12:30 ET.
On Thursday, Brogdon and the Pacers outscored the Trail Blazers 91-88. In his first game back since suffering a torn rectus femoris (a quad muscle) in early March and being diagnosed with COVID-19 in June, Brogdon went for eleven points, four assists, and four rebounds on 4-10 shooting (3-5 from three). Playing nineteen minutes, Brogdon didn’t play after subbing out mid way through the third quarter.
The Pacers and Brogdon have struggled with injuries all season. Entering the year without star Victor Oladipo, the Pacers lost Jeremy Lamb shortly after Oladipo returned in January. Now, Oladipo has been flip-flopping on whether he will play in the games in Orlando due to concerns about re-aggravating his soft tissue injury from early 2019. Oddly enough, Oladipo did actually play in the scrimmage.
To make matters worse, All Star center Domantas Sabonis has just been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and appears unlikely to play in the eight seeding games. That injury, and a nagging knee injury for Sabonis’ fellow frontcourt teammate Myles Turner meant the Pacers started Alize Johnson and JaKarr Sampson in the frontcourt against Portland.
Long story short, the Pacers heavily rely on Sabonis to act as a screener and in dribble hand off actions and on Turner as a floor spacer. So, missing those two left Brogdon, Oladipo, and small forward T.J. Warren struggling to penetrate the paint with any reasonable success.
Nonetheless, Brogdon still found ways to score the ball, hitting three three-pointers. After shooting 42.6% from deep last year, Brogdon’s efficiency from three has dropped to 31.3%. Some of that is due to an altered role and the fact that he’s no longer playing with the league MVP, but he’s still struggled to shoot with the Pacers. As such, it’s encouraging to see a couple of triples tickle the chords.
While he struggled inside the arc, hopefully with the return of Turner and an eventual gelling with Oladipo (they’ve only played twelve games together), Brogdon can find his footing as a play maker. Before he dealt with a plethora of injuries from December onward, Brogdon was on a tear early in the season. In his first twenty-four games, Brogdon averaged 19.4 PPG and 8.3 APG. Assuming he stays healthy for the remainder of the season, it’d be great to see him get back in a groove.
Brogdon and the Pacers will take the court again on Sunday against the Mavericks at 4:00 PM ET.
On Thursday night, Ty Jerome got his first start with the Suns as the team rested two of their regular starting five. Playing twenty-five minutes, Jerome finished with eight points, three assists, and one rebound on 3-9 shooting (0-5 from three). Starting with Devin Booker, Jerome looked fairly comfortable in the offense. He was secure with the ball and only committed one turnover. He made a couple nice drives that he finished with soft floaters, and even hit this sweet fade-away jumper at the end of the first half.
Defensively, Jerome was tasked with guarding a number of quicker players including Mike Conley and childhood teammate Donovan Mitchell. For the most part, Jerome held his own. Despite not being the most quick-twitch of defenders, he stayed in front of his man, and appeared more comfortable in the Suns’ defensive scheme than he has in the past.
Back on the offensive side, though, Jerome struggled to shoot the ball from behind the arc. Going 0-5 from behind the arc on the day, he has struggled to shoot while playing for Phoenix. He currently sits at 27.7% on the year, so this isn’t necessarily a new development. That said, it’s obviously his rookie year, and we all know Ty can shoot the ball, so it’s likely just a matter of seeing the ball go in the hoop.
Jerome and the Suns play again on Sunday against the Celtics at 1:30 PM ET.
Both Justin Anderson and Joe Harris sat out the Nets’ first scrimmage on Wednesday. But they’ll likely return to action on Saturday at 4:30 ET against the Spurs. Mike Scott and the Sixers tip off against the Grizzlies in less than two hours at 3:30 against the Grizzlies, while Devon Hall will likely see his first minutes in the bubble at 5:00 when the Thunder play the Celtics.
The league-wide scrimmages will conclude on the 28th, and seeding games will begin on the 30th.