clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Scott Brooks faces tough decisions with the Wizards’ playoff rotation

NBA: Washington Wizards at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Wizards are in the playoffs, the team's playoff rotation will tighten up. Obviously a shorter rotation means more minutes for the starters. We should expect John Wall and Bradley Beal, in particular, to get more minutes.

However, if Scott Brooks' history is any indicator, one or two players will also feel the squeeze once the playoffs start. During his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder, his teams made the playoffs five times and in each year that he made the playoffs, his rotations only went 7-9 players deep.

It’s hard to see any of the team’s big men getting phased out. The Wizards will be able to use smaller lineups against the Hawks much during this series, because of Paul Millsap. He would be able to post up Otto Porter or Kelly Oubre often, so having Markieff Morris available to guard Millsap when he’s on the floor will be necessary most of the time. This may take away from some of the typical minutes that Oubre would play in most matchups.

Another reason why playing small will not work is the fact that the Wizards will have to have big bodies in place to keep Dwight Howard off the boards, especially since the team won’t have Ian Mahinmi available for at least the start of the series. Jason Smith will have to log minutes at the 5 and will have moments that he will have to guard Howard. This leaves some question marks with how the 4 spot will be handled when Morris is not on the floor.

The rotation should look like this:

PG - John Wall (35-40 minutes)/Brandon Jennings (10-13 minutes)
SG - Bradley Beal (35-40 minutes)/Kelly Oubre (8-13 minutes)
SF - Otto Porter (30-32 minutes)/Bojan Bogdanovic (10-12 minutes)/Kelly Oubre(4-8 minutes)
PF - Markieff Morris (30-36 minutes)/Otto Porter (3-12 minutes)/Jason Smith(0-10 minutes)
C - Marcin Gortat (30-35 minutes)/Jason Smith(13-18 minutes)

There are factors that will impact who plays on a game-to-game basis. If Bojan Bogdanovic is not hitting his shots, he could lose time, as he generally struggles in other areas on the court. His minutes can also be impacted by the need to have Oubre on the court to take on Dennis Schroeder or Tim Hardaway Jr, who will be in the starting lineup for this series after spending most of the season as a reserve player.

Foul trouble could also mess with Brooks’ plans, especially if Morris gets some early whistles. His ability to defend and stay out of foul trouble will go a long way in keeping an ideal rotation for this series. There isn't another reliable option to guard Paul Millsap at the 4 other than Jason Smith who also needs to play minutes at the 5.

The Wizards will need Jason Smith to play well on both ends of the court to give themselves the best chance to win. He is the one player that can provide depth in the frontcourt and help the Wizards overcome missing Ian Mahinmi. Without Smith playing at a high level, there aren’t many options left to counteract the Hawks’ talented frontcourt.