Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
One of two significant adjustments that Lionel Hollins needs to hurry up on is settling on a definite bench rotation. Indeed, Hollins had great uncertainty with his bench coming into this season. O.J. Mayo, the key bench player from the past two seasons, is gone.
In Mayo's place are three newcomers (Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington and Tony Wroten), one returnee whose role is easy to define (Marreese Speights) and another (Quincy Pondexter) who might earn more minutes based on how he plays.
While it's clear that Speights is the key big man off the bench, Hollins needs to determine the primary reserve backcourt player. Bayless best fits as the backup point guard and will predominately be used in that role. Ellington and Pondexter can play the 2 and Pondexter is the most capable reserve at the 3.
Wroten played just once before going to the D-League and Josh Selby has hardly played and it may take time for each of them to gain more minutes despite the hype that's surrounded Selby since summer league.
With the reserve guards fitting roles better than those who played last season, Hollins basically needs to determine whether Pondexter or Ellington deserves more minutes. This didn't seem like a difficult choice early on since Ellington appeared to be a better scorer, averaging 6.1 points per game last season compared to Pondexter's 4.2.
However, Pondexter has had a couple nice scoring games, including a 14-point performance against the Utah Jazz.
Ellington blew up on Sunday against the Heat with a career-high 25 points and seven three-pointers.
Ellington is now averaging 8.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting compared to Pondexter's 6.5 points per game on 42.4 percent shooting.
Hollins experimented with his power forward rotation for a few weeks after Zach Randolph went down, eventually coming to the decision to play Speights more.
This year, he needs to take less time deciding which one should be the one to rotate in more often for Tony Allen. Ellington should be that guy since he scores better and can shoot three-pointers.