Pat Riley has a principle
for the NBA
‘s highest-leverage games. “Use eight, rotate seven, play six, trust five.” The difference between “use,” “rotate,” and “play” remains ambiguous to this day, but the message is clear: This ain't January. When you get to the Finals, you're supposed to banish most of your roster and live or die by your best players. Our two finalists operate on the opposite ends of that spectrum.
When injuries permitted, Celtics coach Ime Udoka trimmed his rotation to eight as far back as the regular season. Save a two-minute Payton Pritchard
cameo, he only really used seven players in Sunday's Game 7 victory over Riley's Miami Heat
. Warriors coach Steve Kerr once used 10 players in Game 7 of the NBA Finals
. Kumbaya Kerr cares not for Riley's pearls of wisdom. He's going to give Patrick McCaw
developmental Finals minutes whether you like it or not.
That contrast sets the stage for a fascinating Finals matchup. One of these teams has an incredibly predictable rotation. The other could conceivably use 14 different players depending on circumstances. With that contrast in mind, let's rank all 30 rostered players in this series and attempt to figure out which of them are worthy of being used, rotated, played and trusted.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
3. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
4. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
5. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
6. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
7. Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
8. Al Horford, Boston Celtics
9. Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
10. Grant Williams, Boston Celtics