The 2020 NBA playoffs brings a variable that we’ve never experienced in NBA history: a significant hiatus prior to the start of the playoffs.
A pause in the season could benefit certain players, due to the extra rest. However, other players could suffer from the hiatus because it could knock them out of rhythm.
Here is one player on the Indiana Pacers who could benefit from the pause, one player who could suffer and one player who we just don’t know how it will effect.
Benefit: Malcolm Brogdon
Brogdon came out of the gate this season on a tear, playing at an All-Star level and leading the charge for the offense in the absence of Victor Oladipo.
The lead ball-handler played at a high level the entire season, but there was a stark drop-off in production as he added miles to his work load.
Brogdon averaged 18.3 PPG and 7.6 APG on .452 FG% and .933 FT% for his first 26 games his season. A back injury on December 22 sidelined him for most of the next three weeks. Upon return to the lineup, he saw a drop-off in every major statistic for the remainder for the season.
Statistics aside, it was clear that Brogdon was playing a step slower than the first half of the year, offensively and defensively.
Indiana fans are hoping to see the Brogdon of the first few months of the season, and the additional rest may offer that opportunity. Plus, it has given the combo guard time to heal from a hip injury that forced him to sit for the final three games of the season.
If Brogdon comes back with the same motor as the beginning of the year, that will give the Pacers an edge they would not have had if there was no stoppage of play.
Suffer: Doug McDermott
Prior to the suspension of the season, McDermott was having a career year. He was recording career highs in points (10.4 PPG), FG% (.491), 3FG% (.445) and PER (14.3).
His final month and a half of the season was even better.
Since January 19, McDermott was averaging 11.9 PPG on .543/.474/.842 shooting splits. He was one of the biggest reasons for the success of the second unit.
McDermott may very well return to Orlando and play at the same level he closed the season, but a stoppage in play is never a good thing for a player on a hot streak like that.
The 6’7’’ wing will surely remain one of the best shooters on the court, but there are reasons to be skeptical that he will provide the same production as in January and February.
As of right now, Oladipo is not even sure if he is going to play in Orlando.
But for the sake of this exercise, let’s presume his return to practice goes well and he decides to play.
It’s fair to say that the extra time to rehab his quad and get into game shape is a good thing for his development.
However, the 6’4’’ guard was just getting his rhythm before the suspension of the season.
In the final four games of his season, he averaged 19.5 PPG on .458/.429/.789 shooting splits, easily surpassing his season averages.
We don’t know if this was Oladipo returning to himself or just a short explosion of quality play, but there’s no doubt that he was getting better as the season went on.
The suspension of play is tough on Oladipo since he was playing so well, but it also benefits him because it gives him more time to rehab and get used to playing competitive basketball again.
If Oladipo plays, and how he plays, will be arguably the biggest factor in how far the Pacers can go in this abnormal NBA playoffs. As of right now, that’s a major question mark.