12 October 2014

Breaking Down the Bolts' SF Rotation

Bolts SF Rotation
Everyone knows that the Meralco Bolts has a plethora of guard depth. The addition of Simon Atkins and Philip Morrison to an already solid backcourt of Mike Cortez, Gary David and John Wilson will leave head coach Norman Black with several options on the perimeter.

With two capable power forwards, Cliff Hodge, Sean Anthony and undersize, but effective, Reynel Hugnatan and James Sena at the center, Bolts will not have any trouble finding a third perimeter player to play alongside the talented guards.

The question remains, however, as to what the team will do with the small forward position.

Key Rotation Players

Jared Dillinger
(33 games played, 30.8 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG)

Dillinger was tapped to do the point guard chores for the Bolts for most of the 2013-2014 season after Cortez was injured. Instead of utilizing natural point guards Anjo Caram and AJ Mandani, coach Ryan Gregorio opted to use the 30-year old veteran to create mismatch more than to distribute the ball.

It was an experiment doom to fail as Dillinger can only muster below average assists per game, which the Bolts sorely needed. However, that bad break means Filipino-American spitfire has shown that he is more comfortable playing as a spot-up shooter than orchestrating the play. With his former coach at the Talk ‘N Text bench taking the steering wheel for the Bolts, Dillinger could again become an impact player of the highest level.

Dillinger’s versatility will allow the Bolts to get away with strange line-ups, as he can act as a shooter, creator and, in a pinch, defensive playmaker. Dillinger had amazing advanced stats last season after spending his first five seasons with the Texters, and his per-minute numbers were much higher compared to his career figures. The only problem is that he may not be able to sustain that elite performance for long stretches if David will not share the minutes for that position with him.

Black will probably take care of Dillinger by restricting his minutes because we've learned by now that even when Dillinger isn't trying to be reckless, he plays with an intensity level that sometimes betrays his body. Keeping him healthy should be the goal for the coaching staff because it's as true now as it has always been: if Dillinger reaches the semi-finals in good shape, the Bolts are a contender.

Rey Guevarra
(28 games played, 8.4 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG)

For better or worse, the Bolts have to play Guevarra as a possible their starting small forward. Sometimes that is maddening, but other times it seems like a privilege to watch him work. Thus, it's going to be the issue for a long time, as Guevarra has several years remaining on his healthy contract.

Guevarra’s inconsistencies make it difficult to nail down exactly what type of rotation works best around him, making him not the best choice for a player to build around. When you can't be sure whether you are getting 10 points and four rebounds, 4 points and eight rebounds or eight points and no rebounds from your main offensive option, it is tough to fill in a rotation.

Guevarra’s defense is similarly hit or miss. The six-foot-four veteran can make some stands that have him looking like an elite perimeter stopper, but other times he'll lackadaisically let his man behind him for putback dunks or not close out fast enough on a three-point shooter.

In The Rotation

Mark Macapagal
(29 games played, 16.8 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG)

The nine-year veteran and former Meralco player, Mark Macapagal may be too short to play the small forward position, but he should fit quiet well if the team wants to put shooters on the floor at the same time and adopt a running game.

It is expected that David and Wilson will dominate the shooting guard position all through this season and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if Dillinger and Guevarra fare bad on the floor, the Bolts may need to put Macapagal to give the team a more traditional look.

Coming off the bench, the six-foot-two Macapagal isn't expected to be the offensive player he was with the defunct Coca-Cola Tigers during the 2008 to 2009 season. He doesn't have that in him anymore, which is obvious after watching him for five minutes, but his 33.o percent career average from the rainbow territory can help spread the defences for Hodge and Hugnatan.

What he can still do is present another offensive threat the perimeter with consistent effort and high basketball smarts. However, with a healthy David and Dillinger, don't be surprised if Macapagal’s minutes are a major casualty.

Position Outlook

The small forward position of the Bolts is really shallow. All three players is the type of offensive-minded forward the Bolts should be looking for. Because of this, it makes more sense to start the undersized Macapagal ahead of Guevarra because he can contribute more to the offense.

Macapagal’s ability to stretch the floor and make threes will be critical in freeing up space for players down low and allow Cortez enough room to work. If David and Wilson grow cold on the floor, the need for long-range shooting will become even more necessary.

With two above-average perimeter defenders in the backcourt, Black can experiment a little more with his frontcourt options or three-guard lineups. For now, though, the small forward position is what it has to be.

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