Michael Porter Jr. – B
Porter led all scorers with 22 points which did not come easily. His three-point shot failed him, so he began forcing the issue at the rim. He found success on the drive. The newfound scoring focus came with a consequence. He could have helped his team more in the battle on the glass. And as the lead slipped away, so did the quality of his shots. Still, MPJ made progress in this game. He’s looking more comfortable when attacking the basket. Porter is behind the curve on game reps; they’re all valuable now.
Christian Braun – A-
With smaller expectations, Braun delivered in a big way. He set a new career-high with 19 points, creating for himself with his budding confidence on full display. These reps are essential for the rookie, too. He may well factor into the playoff rotation, and his ability to score when open will dictate how long he stays on the floor.
Vlatko Čančar – C–
Jaden McDaniels embarrassed Vlatko the one time he called his own number. It was an impressive display of defense. Vlatko limited his shot attempts and stayed active otherwise in the game. He rebounded well and kept the ball moving. He just lacked the juice on offense.
Bruce Brown – B-
Brown scored nearly half of his 16 points at the free-throw line. He approached his starting point guard duties in attack mode. He shouldn’t shoot particularly well, and he turned it over three times, but he put up 16 points and seven assists through sheer relentlessness. It wasn’t his best night defensively, however. Like most role players, the more you add to their plate on offense, the less you get out of them defensively.
DeAndre Jordan – D+
Jordan matched up with Rudy Gobert in the spot start. Michael Malone opted for size in the opening lineup, and, fair enough. But Jordan couldn’t keep up out there. He and Bruce Brown ran an unhealthy amount of pick-and-roll, and Denver targeted him for a handful of ill-advised alley-oops. Most of it was hard to watch.
Ish Smith – C+
Ish is a quick starter. He gets going early, then floats back down to earth the longer he plays. He filled up the box score in the loss. Leap-frogging Bones Hyland in the rotation, Smith put up 10-7-5. But he also turned it over four times and isn’t much of a stopper on the other end.
Zeke Nnaji – C
Zeke scored his ten points efficiently but couldn’t secure rebounds. His 0:2 assist-to-turnover ratio gives one a glimpse into how ugly the second unit’s offense got. He also struggled to defend without fouling.
Jeff Green – D
It was all hands on deck, so Green returned to the rotation. He shot 1 of 7 from the field thanks to an 0 of 5 performance from deep. He was open out there.
Davon Reed – F
In nearly twenty minutes of action, Reed posted more turnovers than assists and more fouls than points. He wasn’t alone in his struggles off the bench, but his minutes were a disaster.
Peyton Watson – Played!
Watson played almost ten minutes in the loss. All reps are good reps for the rookie, even the bad ones. Watson’s first touch was a rebound that he pushed up the floor and promptly threw right back to Anthony Edwards. He’ll learn, but he looked green out there.
Bones Hyland – DNP
Another DNP for Hyland as the trade deadline approaches. All that remains is the Woj bomb.