Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Other bigger rotational issues loom as well: Who starts once Tatum is back? Who gets pushed out of the rotation? What are the right starter/bench units? All of that will need to be figured in the coming weeks as the front office weighs the best pieces to fit around this group. For his part, Walker is focused on ensuring that he does slow down the momentum that Brown has created to begin the year.
“He just has to keep on being super aggressive, and that’s it,” Walker said. With me, I’m going to be out there and I’m going to do my part. I’m gonna play hard, I’m gonna shoot my open shots. He’s killing it. I don’t want him to think just because I’m back he can’t keep killing it, because he can. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to continue to encourage him just to be great, which he’s been all year. I just want to try to add onto it. That’s it.”
Just because Kemba has the right mindset (selfless), doesn’t mean he will fit seamlessly into how the Jay’s are working together. I’m hopeful everything will work itself out, but those scars from the 2018 season run deep.
As a unit, the bench has been extremely productive (2nd in FG%, 4th in 3PT FG%) this season. Pritchard and Ojeleye have been pleasant surprises. Grant Williams has been steady, while Jeff Teague is feast (47% 3FG) or famine (33% FG).
But, as Gary Washburn points out, it’s important for role players to stay in their role:
Smart has watched his offense decline in Walker’s absence, shooting 35.6 percent from the field and is 6 for his past 30 from the 3-point line.
Semi Ojeleye has been a lift off the bench but he’s beginning to fall in love with the 3-pointer. Ojeleye is effective when he gets the ball in the corner after the ball whips around the floor. He’s not as effective when he’s pulling up for 27-footers.
The hope is Walker’s presence and Tatum’s return will add normalcy to the lineup and allow players to return to their original roles.
The pressure falls squarely on Brad Stevens and I’m not sure management of the rotation is his strong suit. The current environment doesn’t help, as COVID related absences can disrupt momentum in an instant.
On Page 2, Kemba is PAIN FREE.
“I felt really comfortable making my moves,” Walker said after finishing with nine points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals in 20 minutes. “[I was] pain-free, which I haven’t been for a very long time.
“It feels weird actually not having pain, if that makes sense. It’s kind of a weird feeling. I’ve been hurt for a very long time, so I was really just happy to get out there, just super excited. It was fun. I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Chalk one up for stem cell injections!
The rest of the links
Red’s Army – Kemba’s pain free return is silver lining