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Player Review: Kevin Seraphin was misused for too long

Nate McMillan should’ve untethered the double-plodder lineups sooner.

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NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Seraphin is ideally a backup center, not a power forward. Though injuries sometimes dictated otherwise, this should’ve been obvious. According to the NBA’s lineup data, the Pacers were outscored by 19.1 points per 100 possessions in the 156 minutes that Seraphin played beside Myles Turner. They were also in the red when he and Al Jefferson were on the floor together (minus-3.2). Some of it was spacing, but the bigger issue was defending the 3-point line.

Seraphin’s bulky body doesn’t offer much in the way of mobility against opposing stretch shooters, as was the case here against Brooklyn’s Justin Hamilton.

Yet, for whatever reason, it wasn’t until Lance Stephenson’s return that Nate McMillan finally opted to permanently shift the slighter version of Al Jefferson to center and surround him with interchangeable forwards.

How did Kevin Seraphin impress?

That particular lineup, with those two joined by Aaron Brooks, Paul George, and C.J. Miles, outscored opponents by a mammoth 25.5 points per 100 possessions over the last six games of the regular season.

He and Lance were particularly synergistic, with the prodigal point wing using his drive-first game to either feed him on the block for a soft hook shot, find him crashing hard toward the rim, or dish it back to him for an elbow jump shot.

“I feel like I get more confidence with him and it’s a huge boost,” Seraphin told the Indy Star’s Nate Taylor of playing alongside Stephenson. “He’s a great playmaker and he’s looking for me almost every time. I just have to finish the plays and be me.”

How did Kevin Seraphin disappoint?

The transition to small-ball five wasn’t all good for Seraphin, though. Especially not when the Cleveland Cavaliers went ultra-small. There’s no way he can force the side pick and roll action with Deron Williams to the sideline and recover to Frye behind the 3-point line at the wing, here. It’s simply too tough of a cover for his body type.

Granted, not many rosters are able to boast Cleveland’s lineup versatility, but this particular defensive possession should serve as an adequate example of the limitations produced by having multiple plodding big men on the same roster.

What’s next?

To that point, Seraphin ($1.8M) is cheaper than Lavoy Allen’s team option ($3.5M) and he outscored Al Jefferson ($10.2), 29-0, in the playoffs. Seraphin will still be a liability when misused against spread shooters, but he’s an inexpensive rim protector capable of chipping in some points here and there when he isn’t tethered to another paint-bound big. If Jefferson doesn’t shape up, his mini-me can provide added depth under the right circumstances.

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