(Image – Ben Rekosh – @Br.dsgns)
With two days of meaningful NBA games complete, the remaining Wahoos in the NBA bubble are going to tip off later today. On Friday, Joe Harris and Justin Anderson saw their first action in Orlando, while Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are still waiting to see the floor in Orlando.
Expectations for the ‘Hoos in the NBA Bubble – Part 1 (Harris, Anderson, Jerome, Guy)
Today, Malcolm Brogdon, Mike Scott, and Devon will likely play in their first meaningful games in over four months. As such, this return to live, meaningful basketball warrants a breakdown of what we ought to expect for these ‘Hoos and their respective squads.
Malcolm Brogdon – Pacers
The most prominent Wahoo in the NBA now in his fourth year in the league, Malcolm Brogdon will be leading the Pacers charge into the NBA playoffs. So far this season, Brogdon is averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 4.7 RPG.
As Brogdon has taken a step forward, so has Pacers center Domantas Sabonis, who made his first NBA All-Star Game this season. Their production along with the seemingly effortless scoring from T.J. Warren has already qualified the Pacers for the playoffs despite the fact that star shooting guard Victor Oladipo missed the significant majority of the season pre-COVID-19.
Unfortunately, with Sabonis’ recent diagnosis with plantar fascitis, he has left the bubble and appears unlikely to play again this season. Additionally, despite playing in all three scrimmages, Oladipo still remains uncertain if he’ll join the Pacers on the court when they resume play on Saturday.
So, expectations for the Pacers remain unclear. Currently sitting fifth in the East, they are tied with the Sixers in overall record at 39-26. If Oladipo plays, the Pacers have a legitimate shot at moving into fourth and surpassing the Heat as well. But, if Oladipo doesn’t play and Sabonis doesn’t return to the bubble, a first-round exit is just about inevitable.
With all the injury concerns the Pacers are facing, it will be critical for Brogdon to be healthy in the bubble. Unfortunately, Brogdon has been listed as questionable with a neck injury for the Pacers’ first game. Ideally, he’ll play on Saturday and will be able to heal up in the bubble. But it’s these types of nagging injuries that plagued Brogdon throughout this season and forced him to miss seventeen games. But, if healthy, Brogdon should be able to return to his early-season production levels.
Mike Scott – 76ers
Scott, now an eight year NBA veteran, is a valuable member of Philly’s bench. Averaging roughly six points per contest in eighteen minutes of play, Scott works as a stretch four. This season, Scott is shooting 35.8% from deep (which, actually, is the worst he’s shot three years).
The Sixers have also already clinched a playoff spot, and will be in competition with the Pacers and the Heat for fourth place in the East. Relying on big men Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, this season is a critical one for the assessment of the current state of the organization. If they can make a run in the playoffs, the concerns about the Simmons and Embiid pairing will be tabled. But if things go pear-shaped, things could sour quickly in the city of brotherly love.
Devon Hall – Thunder
Hall, who only recently joined the Thunder’s bubble roster, spent the year playing for the team’s G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue. In thirty games for the Blue, Hall averaged 15.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.4 APG. In fact, of the players who played more than fifteen of the team’s forty games, Hall was second on the team in both scoring and distributing.
Now with the Thunder in the bubble, Hall is likely to be at the very end of the bench. It’s not out of the equation for him to get a few minutes in a blowout, but don’t expect him to see minutes unless the Thunder deal with injuries in their backcourt.
But, considering that the Thunder have already clinched a playoff spot and currently sit at sixth in the West, it’s also not out of the equation that the Thunder decide to rest a few of their starters in one or two of the final seeding games, giving Hall the opportunity to see the court for some meaningful run.
The Thunder tip off against the Utah Jazz at 3:30 ET on ESPN, while the Pacers and the Sixers will play at 7:00 PM ET. That game is available via purchase of the NBA League Pass.