Blogtable: Which late-season acquisition will have biggest impact in playoffs?
Our scribes chime in on which buyout or trade deadline player will stand out most in the postseason.
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Which buyout or trade deadline player is poised to make a big impact this postseason?
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Steve Aschburner: Rajon Rondo. Thirteen years after he was the undervalued little brother who helped the Boston Celtics of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen win their championship, Rondo still has enough left in his tank to fill an important role for the Clippers. His pals from down the hall at Staples Center won’t enjoy facing him in a best-of-seven series if it comes to that, and frankly no other team will either. He can impose order when his new team needs it, and his defense and intensity often have been contagious where he’s played. Instead of big numbers, I see surgical contributions on a game-by-game basis. Great addition for the postseason.
Shaun Powell: The easy answer is Playoff Rondo, assuming, of course, that Rajon Rondo’s alter-ego isn’t fried by now. The Clippers could use the ball in someone’s hands other than their two stars in the clutch, and in the past, Rondo was secure with that role on other teams. He’s older, though, and possibly left his best chance at another title in the locker room down the hall at Staples Center.
John Schuhmann: Evan Fournier is the best player acquired by a team that has a chance to win a playoff series. He’s played just four games for the Celtics thus far, but could be the piece they’ve been missing for most of the season. He can play on or off the ball and, most important, was a huge upgrade over anybody else they had coming off the bench. For the teams that have a chance to win more than one series, it will be interesting to see if P.J. Tucker can unlock some Giannis Antetokounmpo-at-center lineups, make a few shots, and give the Bucks somebody they can confidently assign to Kevin Durant for 20-plus minutes.
Michael C. Wright: It was probably already Aaron Gordon even before Jamal Murray’s injury, but it’s more so now. The Nuggets are 7-2 since bringing in Gordon, and his shooting percentages have improved since the transaction; likely a byproduct of him not being the focal point of Denver’s offense the way he was in Orlando. That likely changes somewhat now, as he’ll be asked to contribute more offensively along with Porter considering Murray was Denver’s second-leading scorer when he suffered the knee injury. Denver lost a bona fide superstar in Murray, and somebody will need to make up for his production. The LA Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers should also benefit tremendously in the postseason with the additions of Rajon Rondo and George Hill (once he returns from the thumb injury); two cagey veterans with valuable playoff experience.