Expanded rosters and missing starters have brought lots of opportunity to former Gators in the NBA Orlando Bubble.
Two UF legends from the back-to-back title teams of 2006 and 2007, forward Corey Brewer and center Joakim Noah, claimed roster spots on the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, after spending the rest of the 2019-20 season as free agents.
Noah has seen limited minutes as expected, playing 10 in a two-point loss to the Lakers on July 30 and almost seven minutes in a blowout of the New Orleans Pelicans on Aug. 1. However, with the continued absence of Montrezl Harrell and no timetable for his return, Noah could see his game time steadily increase despite not playing in the Clippers’ last outing on Aug. 4.
Guard Chris Chiozza is getting a lot of opportunity with the Brooklyn Nets, as Spencer Dinwiddie (coronavirus) and Kyrie Irving (shoulder) sit on the shelf. Chiozza was playing rather well before the NBA shut down due to Covid-19 in March, averaging 10.0 points and 2.6 assists in 19.1 minutes over the last five games.
Since the restart, his minutes have increased to 20.9 per game, and so have his assists at 5.3. And then, on Aug. 4, Cheezsanity struck, as the crafty, 5-foot-11 facilitator registered his first career double-double (10 points, 10 assists in 31 minutes) in a two-point win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Center/power forward Al Horford continues to get heckled for his pedestrian offensive numbers with the Philadelphia 76ers this season. The 13-year veteran is out of the starting lineup, replaced in favor of guard Shake Milton.
However, Horford is still averaging over 28 minutes off the bench for Philly, and he does bring a stabilizing defensive prowess.
He had a difficult first game back in a six-point loss to the Pacers on Aug. 1, but nobody could guard T.J. Warren that night, who exploded for a career-high 53 points.
However, the 76ers were +17 and +18 in their next two games when Horford was on the floor, earning wins against the San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards.
Forward Dorian Finney-Smith continues to be a consistent defensive and rebounding presence for the Dallas Mavericks. In their last game and first win since the restart, Finney-Smith scored 16 points and pulled down 16 boards (six offensive). He’s averaging 10.0 rebounds per game in the bubble, almost doubling his season average from before the restart.
Other Gators on bubble rosters are forward Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat and guard Michael Frazier, both of whom have yet to play in Orlando.
Follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr.