The Best Players for Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs: The Reign in Spain

Time flies when you’re busy.

I have recently been spending a lot of time working on some longer form pieces (coaching value, smallball, lineup comparisons, draft projections) and while those will be awesome, it’s affected my output in the short term.

I’m just about ready to get on the ball again. To start, I’m going to give you a quick visual on Round 2 of the playoffs so far.

Conveniently, there have been exactly one hundred players on the court in Round 2.

Los Mejores

There you go. One to one hundred. Marc Gasol, el mejor centro en la NBA, to Zombie Kendrick Perkins.

Let’s give it to you by team as well.

Round 2

As a bonus, I’ll give you my quick series takes:

Heat vs Bulls

If your team’s starting guards are so depleted that you make Norris Cole a superstar, you’re going to have a real problem winning a playoff series. The Bulls had no chance in this series, even though Jimmy Butler manned up, played almost every minute and went toe to toe with Lebron for games at a time. The Bulls should be proud of the fact that they’re the only team to beat Miami with Lebron and Birdman playing.

Interestingly, the Heat did give some signs of running out some undersized lineups. Given the potential future opponents with dominant centers (Indiana and Memphis), this is something to watch. Of course, the Heat can squash this by playing more Birdman.

Knicks vs Pacers

Let me give you a sneak peak of something:

Lineups NYK-IND

Those are the lineups most commonly used by the Knicks and Pacers. In this series, the Pacers have stuck with their bread and butter rotations from the regular season and have played a standard positional lineup. On the other hand, the Knicks have thrown out all sorts of crazy rotations that they did not use at all during the regular season. I know which coaching staff I’d hire.

As for the players, It’s a bad sign when your top four in minutes (Chandler, Felton, Anthony and Smith) are your bottom four in productivity. Indiana’s resurgence can totally be laid at the feet of much improved play from Roy Hibbert. If Indiana wins, it sets up an intriguing rematch from last year’s Round 2 series with the Heat.

Spurs vs Warriors

The story of this series is dead simple: apparently Andrew Bogut visited Germany for some experimental treatments before the playoffs. His presence and the absence of Lee has made Golden State a different team. That fact, coupled with San Antonio’s inability to handle short rest over the past couple of years, means that this series has gone longer than it should.

You do realize we are a missed free throw from this one being over?

That said, Kawhi Leonard is the best player in a series featuring four guaranteed Hall of Famers and two other likely candidates. Did I mention he’s twenty one? Crazy. Particularly when you consider how he brought the Spurs back in game 1.

San Antonio should win. However, if you’re San Antonio you really have to worry about what your conference finals opponent is going to do to your suddenly vulnerable big men.

Grizzlies vs Thunder:

It’s really unfortunate that Memphis threw away such a golden opportunity to get to the Finals this year. With the Westbrook injury and San Antonio’s inability to sustain performance on short rest days, the West is wide open. It was the worst possible time for them to trade their star player, Rudy Gay, for parts. You’ll never get anywhere in the playoffs if you refuse to pay your top scorer and then trade him.

Wait, they’re 35-10 since trading him and they’re going to the conference finals for the first time? I guess Rudy is not a star. Please note: if Rudy becomes a dead-eye shooter next year after the corrective eye surgery he just had, I am not to be held responsible.

Sarcasm off.

Let’s look at lineups again.

Lineups OKC-Grizz

The Westbrook injury completely exposed Scotty Brooks as a bad coach. Granted, Hollins isn’t a superstar coach either, but for the most part Hollins was able to stick with what worked and the Memphis front office took away his favorite knife to hurt himself with (Gay) in easily the best trade of the season. Meanwhile, the Zombie Sonics had absolutely no Plan B. What really confuses me is that they had two non-Westbrook lineups that clearly worked in both the regular season and the playoffs, but instead of using those they went with ones that didn’t work. Their most played lineup was an atrocity.

Let me take this time to remind you that Sam Presti is terrible at trades. Let’s walk through some highlights:

  • Ray Allen and Big Baby for Jeff Green, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. Big Loss
  • Rashard Lewis to Orlando for cap space (basically). Neutral
  • Tyson Chandler from the New Orleans Hornets for forward Chris Wilcox, forward Joe Smith and the draft rights to center DeVon Hardin. Huge Win until they canceled it and probably lost a title. Big Loss
  • Traded Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. If you’re keeping track, they traded the best three-point shooter in the game and a first ballot HOF in Ray Allen for Kendrick Perkins. Big Loss
  • Traded James Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and a second-round draft pick. Waived Andy Rautins, Daniel Orton and Hollis Thompson. Let’s trade the best shooting guard in the NBA so we don’t have to amnesty Kendrick Perkins! Yay! Can you say sunk cost fallacy? Big Loss

OKC needs to stick to the draft.

As for players? Marc Gasol is playing like the best Big Man in the game right now and that makes Memphis a legit contender. Throw in a healthy Zbo and a killer guard combo in Conley and Allen and Memphis could very well be going to the Finals.

Viva España!

-Arturo

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