Exum played just eight minutes in Tuesday's 113-104 loss to the Trail Blazers, generating five points (2-4 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-1 FT) and two rebounds.
The limited court time was a bit surprising to see considering Exum's strong finish to the preseason, but coach Quin Snyder was inclined to ride his starters in the opener, with the backcourt duo of George Hill (39 minutes) and Rodney Hood (38 minutes) both logging heavy workloads. In addition, Shelvin Mack (15 minutes) entered the rotation ahead of Exum and functioned as the primary backup to Hill at point guard, with Exum instead seeing most of his time off the ball. This sort of playing-time distribution won't hold over the course of the season, but Exum may have to settle for a more lessened role than anticipated over the first handful of games.
Gobert posted 12 points (4-7 FG, 4-4 FT), 14 rebounds, two assists and two blocks across 41 minutes in Tuesday's 113-104 loss to the Trail Blazers.
The fact that Gobert saw such a limited amount of shot attempts over a high volume of minutes was disappointing, but the 7-foot-1 center did well to convert on his free throws, an area where he's expected to show significant improvement in 2016-17. In addition, he offered his customary strong contributions as a rebounder and shot blocker, and should be one of the league's top producers in those categories if health prevails. Gobert seems poised to turn in a career-best season in 2016-17.
Diaw started at power forward and provided two points (1-8 FG, 0-3 3Pt) and three rebounds across 32 minutes in Tuesday's 113-104 loss to the Trail Blazers.
Filling in for regular starter Derrick Favors (knee), Diaw ended up taking on the bulk of the playing time at the position, resulting in a lessened role for Trey Lyles (five points, two rebounds in 18 minutes). Diaw failed to provide much of an impact during his time on the court, however, and racked up five fouls along the way. It's possible that Favors' could remain sidelined for Friday's game against the Lakers, and while Diaw would likely get the starting nod again in such a scenario, Lyles could eat into his workload a little more.
Mack entered the game before fellow reserve point guard Dante Exum and ended up nearly doubling up his minutes total, suggesting the sixth-year veteran has the edge for top backup duties behind starter George Hill. Exum's 6-foot-6 frame will allow him to see some additional time off the ball, but as things stand now, Mack figures to occupy a larger role in coach Quin Snyder's rotation. Look for the talented Exum to gradually cut into Mack and Hill's workload as the season progresses.
Coach Guy Boucher has shifted Smith to the third line, a move that was expected to be made before Clarke MacArthur (concussion) went down and finally came to fruition. The 28-year-old was excelling next to Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan -- two goals and an assist -- but his new role could end up being beneficial. Not only does he have chemistry with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but 60-point man Mark Stone also made his way down to the third line. The move may not stick, but with the added firepower and still-significant minutes, Smith's outlook is still positive going forward.
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