Joel Freeland sprained his right MCL in Tuesday’s match against the Oklahoma City Thunder and will miss 4-6 weeks of action. Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson are expected to inherit the bulk of his minutes down low, but let’s not forget about Victor Claver. The 6’9” small forward can play power forward when called upon and, what’s more, was listed as “DNP” instead of “Inactive” last night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
That may not sound like a huge deal since Claver didn’t play, but Stotts has given himself another piece to experiment with in Freeland’s absence. Claver is more than eager to help out. The 25 year old sophomore has played only four total minutes this season, despite promising signs of improvement during the 2013 EuroBasket Tournament and Las Vegas Summer League. Watching his teammates from the sideline has been very difficult for him.
Coach Stotts had been tinkering with Meyers Leonard as a floor spacer, but Leonard will now be called upon to play closer to the rim. Normally, this would mean more minutes for Thomas Robinson as the backup power forward (and it likely will), but Robinson shrinks the court more than anything else. Victor Claver could get the nod in situations where Portland is struggling to clear the lane, though Claver & Leonard at 4 & 5 doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence on paper.