Opening Day is here! Here are some observations about the initial rotations of the 2020-21 NBA season.
Happy Opening Day, NBA fans!! We didn’t have to wait an entire summer for more basketball, but it doesn’t make it moment any less sweeter.
One thing that the first day of the season brings is roster clarity. After a training camp period of non-guaranteed camp deals and Exhibit 10 sign-and-waives, all 30 NBA teams have finally decided on the 16 or 17 men they intend to take into a 2020-21 campaign that’s poised to be an unpredictable gauntlet.
Now that the dust has settled, I was able to update every team’s depth chart. You can check them out by either clicking THIS LINK or the “NBA Depth Charts” tab at the top of this page.
Below are just some stray observations of some of the developments found within said depth charts. Do you have any thoughts on how a team’s rotation has unfolded? Let me know in the comments!!
I’m a little bummed that USC rookie Onyeka Okongwu won’t be ready to go for Opening Night. However, with Okongwu, Kris Dunn, and Tony Snell out, that rotational logjam I was concerned about has been deferred for at least a couple of weeks.
Chris Chiozza was a last-minute signing, as he gets his two-way slot he had last year back and bumps Jerimiah Martin off the roster. Congrats to him and best of luck to Jerimiah. Here’s hoping Chiozza continues to prove he belongs in the NBA.
Also, I’m surprised Bruce Brown has struggled to get into the rotation in Brooklyn, considering his playmaking skillset. However, he is moving from an injury-ravaged lottery team in Detroit to a title contender. I hope he’s able to adjust. But judging by their current rotation, they aren’t really hurting for him right now.
Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman has been confirmed as the starting center for tonight’s game at the Nets. This isn’t a surprise, and I think he’s going to be great in that position.
The player I do feel for is Marquese Chriss. He was a good starting center last year for Golden State, and I understood that he would have to move to a bench role with Wiseman’s arrival. However, it seems head coach Steve Kerr also prefers to play Kevon Looney ahead of Chriss. That’s a little surprising to me considering all that Chriss had done. But perhaps he just wasn’t bringing it in training camp, and Kerr has adjusted his rotation accordingly. I wonder if Marquese will be in the rotation at all once Draymond Green returns to the fold.
Lastly, I’m glad that Juan Toscano-Anderson is going to fill the Warriors’ second two-way contract. I was said when he got cut because I like his story of his career path, the fact he’s playing for his hometown team, and his athleticism. His NBA story isn’t over yet, and I know he’s going to keep proving he deserves a spot on the team.
Speaking of cuts that made me sad, it hurt to see both Gerald Green and Kenny Wooten get waived. Green was playing so well, and looked like he could have easily fit into the rotation. However, the Rockets are dealing with the hard cap, so they basically didn’t have a choice. I hope Green gets at least one more opportunity to play in the league.
I guess, Wooten, who ranked 9th in my Rookie Excitement Rankings, didn’t do enough to prove he deserved that two-way contract. Hopefully he’s able to find a place to polish his game so he can get back to the NBA as soon as possible.
The Wolves chose to drop Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, which makes room for Jake Layman and Juan Hernangomez to get more minutes.
Also, with Malik Beasley’s legal issues resolved, I’m expecting a change at the starting 2-guard spot very soon. He will likely face a suspension from the league, which will lead Minnesota to either go 2 PGs with Rubio and Russell or give rookie Anthony Edwards a chance to start. We’ll have to wait and see how soon those developments will unfold.
New Orleans Pelicans
Head coach Stan Van Gundy has confirmed he’s going 9-deep with his rotation this year. When you look at the roster, it’s pretty clear who those nine will be.
Oklahoma City Thunder
This was the hardest roster to figure out. So many guaranteed contracts! After TJ and Admiral Schofield were waived, I felt like a detective as I tried to discern who would be the last cut. I figured Darius Miller (didn’t play in preseason), Ty Jerome (missed preseason with injury and lone guy not practicing on Cut Day), Trevor Ariza (his personal issues are going to keep him away for awhile), and Kenrich Williams (cheap contract and didn’t wow in preseason) were all on the chopping block.
Instead, the answer was the equivalent of “the butler did it”. Frank Jackson, despite playing well in the preseason, was the man OKC chose to let go. After all, he was the only player on the roster that didn’t have a fully-guaranteed contract.
The Magic start the year with major injuries to Al-Farouq Aminu and James Ennis and Mo Bamba recovering from COVID. This hits their frontcourt depth hard. However, Khem Birch has spent the last two seasons giving serviceable big man minutes in the face of injury. It also allows rookie Chuma Okeke to pick up some major minutes to start his career.
Word out of Philly is that rookie Tyrese Maxey is coming for that 10th man, which is currently held by Matisse Thybulle. I could see that happening soon, but I think head coach Doc Rivers is going to give Matisse a chance to keep his spot.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs come out of the gate with major injuries, losing Derrick White and Keldon Johnson as well as both of their two-way players for an extended amount of time. Their wing depth is depleted, leaving Devin Vassell, who impressed in the preseason, with ample opportunities to continue showing his stuff in the early going.