The Phoenix Suns didn't have to devote any attention to Andre Drummond in their series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He didn't even see the floor, benched in favor of Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol, whom he had once replaced in the starting lineup. Drummond's scoring, rebounding and athleticism appealed to a Lakers team just trying to stay afloat in the middle of the season, so they gave him Gasol's job despite outscoring opponents by 13.4 points per 100 possessions when he shared the floor with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
At some point in his distant past as a broadcaster, Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden visited Indianapolis Colts training camp with his ESPN co-worker Ron Jaworski and noticed a trend he found disturbing. The Colts gave hardly any practice reps to Peyton Manning's backup quarterbacks. So, as Jaworski explained in his book, The Games that Changed the Game, they asked then-Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore why that was, and he gave a response that doubled as some of the most practical life advice a coach could ever give. "Fellas," he explained. "If No. 18 goes down we're f-----, and we don't practice f-----."
Moore wound up being right. When Manning needed neck surgery in 2011, the Colts went 2-14. A few extra practice reps might have helped backup Curtis Painter win another game or two, but nothing could have saved their season. Hiding under a desk won't protect you from an atomic bomb. There's no practicing "f-----."
Yet that's exactly what Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka did when he reshaped a Lakers roster fresh off a championship. Knowing that a shortened offseason and condensed schedule would weaken James and Davis, he devoted the bulk of his resources not to players who would fit well alongside them, but rather, ones whose workloads could scale up when either of them needed to rest or miss time due to injury.