Rotation Question Marks for Playoff-Bound NBA Teams

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistApril 4, 2013

Rotation Question Marks for Playoff-Bound NBA Teams

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    To win an NBA championship, a team must eventually overcome at least a few struggles. But to overcome a question mark? 

    Well, that's an entirely different story, and it's one that depends in large part on the size of said question mark. 

    Not every playoff-bound squad can boast a roster filled with great players at each and every position. Some holes are bound to pop up, and none are more glaring going into the 2013 postseason than these five. 

    A few of these rotational question marks are easier to overcome than others, but all will require proper adjustment if the team in question hopes to hoist up the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Brooklyn Nets: Power Forward

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    The Brooklyn Nets boast a number of great options throughout their rotation, but power forward presents the Eastern Conference contenders with a pretty sizable problem. 

    Reggie Evans is a great role player, but that's about it. He's an incredible rebounder and a solid defender, especially in pick-and-roll situations, but playing Evans on offense is essentially equal to forgoing a fifth option. 

    And when I say Evans is an incredible rebounder, I truly mean it. Defensive and offensive rebounding require different skills, yet the 32-year-old thrives on both types of glass, leading the entire NBA in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages (per 

    It's clear that he has value, but can you win a championship with Evans in the starting lineup? At the heart of each of these question marks, that's the ultimate question, so it's one I'll be answering at the end of each slide.

    This question is especially relevant for the Nets since Kris Humphries and Mirza Teletovic are the primary backups at the position. 

    As for Grantland's Zach Lowe, well, I'm going to assume he votes no: 

    Here's a general rule: If you're this dependent on Reggie Evans, you're not a contender. He has bad hands, zero range, and almost no scoring ability — his recent 22-point explosion in Portland and 15-point game against Denver notwithstanding — and his elite offensive rebounding stems in part from the fact that defenses don't guard him. But he has done his job this season — a bigger job than the Nets ever intended for him. (Hi, Kris Humphries.)

    As talented as Deron Wiliams and Brook Lopez may be, I'll be voting no as well.


    Can you win a championship with this question mark? 


Miami Heat: Center

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    This is a situational question mark for the Miami Heat, because they've been able to absolutely dominate the league while using Chris Bosh at center and playing some serious small ball. Against a team with a true big man, though, this bit of punctuation could rear its ugly head. 

    Unfortunately for the Heat, the Indiana Pacers are the perfect example of a team that could give them fits, namely due to the presence of Roy Hibbert. 

    Chris "Birdman" Andersen has assuaged these fears a bit, particularly because his presence on the roster coincided with the inception of the second-longest stretch of undefeated play in NBA history. He still doesn't solve the problem. 

    Miami doesn't lay claim to a true center who can play consistent minutes throughout a series. Birdman is as close at it gets, and the Heat can't afford to rely on him for 30 minutes a game in a hard-fought series. Instead, Miami must depend on various players to step up at various times. 

    Will it stop the defending champions from terrorizing the rest of the Eastern Conference? No, probably not. 

    But it does at least give them a bit of a question mark.


    Can you win a championship with this question mark? 


New York Knicks: Small Forward

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    The New York Knicks have one of the best small forwards in basketball on the roster, but there's a slight problem here.

    Carmelo Anthony isn't lining up at the 3 much during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    According to, Melo has played 49 percent of the Knicks' available minutes at power forward, 10 percent of the possible minutes at small forward and one percent at center. He may still be called a small forward, but that's been a misnomer this year. 

    In the 10 most-used five-man lineups by New York this season, five different players have lined up at small forward. Anthony has been there in just two, both of which come when Amar'e Stoudemire is also on the court. 

    Ronnie Brewer (two), J.R. Smith (two), Iman Shumpert (one) and Steve Novak (three) are the others stepping out onto the court in the intermediary position. Saver Brewer, who is now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, all of the aforementioned guys add value to New York's cause, but you don't exactly want any of them playing major minutes at the 3. 


    Can you win a championship with this question mark? 


Chicago Bulls: Point Guard

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    One of two situations will soon play out for the Chicago Bulls. And, of course, it all hinges around the return of Derrick Rose

    In the first situation, Rose comes back and resumes the starting point guard role in the Windy City. Even then, there's a question mark. 

    Will Rose look like his former self right after returning from a devastating ACL injury? Is he going to be rusty? Can he still carry a team to victory almost single-handedly? Will he play like an MVP candidate? 

    Scratch that.

    There would be a lot of question marks in this scenario, even if the expectations surrounding the former Memphis standout were rather low. 

    Now, in the second situation, Rose holds out for the rest of the season, and Tom Thibodeau is forced to use Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague as his point guard rotation. Given the nature of the Association and the dominance/importance of floor generals, this might not be the best way to go to war. 

    No matter what happens concerning the most heavily scrutinized knee in basketball, question marks will arise in the playoffs.


    Can you win a championship with this question mark? 

    Yes in the first situation, no in the second.

Houston: Power Forward

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    When you make it to the playoffs, you don't want some combination of Greg Smith, Donatas Motiejunas and Thomas Robinson lining up at power forward for you throughout each 48-minute contest. In the future, that might be a workable, or perhaps even exemplary, rotation. 

    In the present?

    Not so much. 

    Solid as Jeremy Lin, James Harden, James Harden's beard, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik may be in their respective roles—some more solid than others—power forward is going to be problematic for this squad. 

    When play slows down and each possession becomes all the more vital, positive output from each spot on the court is a necessity. 

    I still believe in Robinson's ability to fill this void later on in his career, but he and the other two big men in question aren't ready to do so yet. 


    Can you win a championship with this question mark?