Lineup Check Up « Queen City Hoops

Lineup Check Up

The time has come to take another look at how specific Bobcats’ lineups have fared so far this season. If you remember, we first had a look at things back in late November when the Bobcats stood at 5-4. Record-wise, the team has not fared as well since their hot start. Upon comparing the current point differentials of some of the most utilized lineups to the numbers after only nine games, you begin to see why they’ve struggled as well as why it’s important to remember that it’s a long season. There are ebbs and flows but one thing is always for sure – the cream rises to the top.

Let’ begin our look with the lineup that has logged the most minutes all season – Haywood, Mullens, Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor, and Walker. After nine games, the lineup had posted a point differential of 12.2 (per 100 possessions). Since then though, the lineup has struggled mightily during the 95 minutes they’ve been on the court together, resulting in a point differential of -14.7. The lineup’s struggles can largely be attributed to Mullens’ play, but this is a story for another time. All in all, the Bobcats’ most used lineup has a point differential of -2.5 over 166 minutes of play so far this season.

Eventually, Coach Dunlap elected to replace Haywood in the starting lineup with Bismack Biyombo. Fans rejoiced. Bloggers rejoiced. Everyone rejoiced. However, so far the results have not been praise worthy. To date, the lineup has seen the court for 55 minutes (second-most often used lineup) and recorded a point differential of -22.9. So clearly Biyombo is the problem, right? I’m not so sure. What is clear is that this lineup gives up 43% of their opponent’s field goals close to the basket – a recipe for disaster. It may seem counterintuitive given the prolific shot-blocker Biyombo is, but in actuality the Bobcats fare better offensively with him on the floor and worse defensively. Whether Biyombo is to blame or not, the numbers scream that this lineup does not know how to play together, particularly defensively.

Much in the way Biyombo could be blamed for the struggles of the previous lineup (I’m in no way advocating this kind of analysis), Gerald Henderson’s inclusion in the starting five in place of Jeff Taylor has resulted in far more impressive numbers for the Bobcats. Leading up to the Mullens injury, the newly minted starting lineup (Biyombo, Mullens, Kidd-Gilchrist, Henderson, Walker) had posted a point differential of 7.8 over 52 minutes of play on the court. Another productive lineup – albeit in less court time – has been the diminutive backcourt of Walker and Sessions paired with Kidd-Gilchrist, Mullens, and Biyombo. This grouping boasts a point differential of 13.2 over 32 minutes of play.

How about some of the new lineups we may have seen with the likes of Hakim Warrick as well as the now healthy Tyrus Thomas? The results have been very good and very bad. The lineup consisting of Biyombo, Thomas, Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor, and Walker has netted a point differential of 14.7 during just shy of three quarter’s worth of play. On the flip side, the lineup featuring Biyombo, Warrick, Henderson, Sessions, and Walker has posted an abominable point differential to date of -48.7, the worst pairing that has seen at least 25 minutes of play.

So what do we take from all this? It’s tough to say. Much like we saw with the early results of the original starting lineup, after logging more time on the court together their point differential swung dramatically. So it may seem easy to look at the numbers to date and come away with a handful of conclusions, but the truth is it takes time on the court to flush out meaningful results. And while a lineup may perform much better with the addition or subtraction of one player, the results do not necessarily elevate one or indict another. Basketball is the ultimate team game, where defense is meant to be played on a string and the offensive capabilities of teammates are to complement each other and result in a sum greater than its parts. This is the task at hand for Coach Dunlap and his staff, to assemble the lineups and rotations that optimize each player’s skills and maximize the team’s collective ability.

5 comments to Lineup Check Up

  • AntoineH

    we need to pursue greg odems we have very good guards and oure big men is ok but we got to helpthe guards out bc we are getting killed in the paint on rebounds and points ok i love the rookies they are good lets turn them a loose and with my boy kemba at point, gordan at the 2 spot kidd @3 spot warrick @4 and biyombo @5 then you got my boy gerald, sessions , thomas, haywood ,and i like tht guy adrien and thomas attitude we need tht on our team also reggie can bust tht 3 when we need it too!!!

  • charlottean

    this is by far and above one of my favorite stats available. individual point differential is worthless.

    group point differential CAN however have a lot to do with opponent talent, so it can be misleading when analyzing your own lineups or their improvement/lack of. we played NOBODY early and that was exposed later. Example…….posting a -28 point differential against OKC might be equally as successful as posting a +4 against the wizards. One lineup might have played more against miami than against washington and these differentials be swayed that way because of it. I like the stats that show the damage done or done to vs. the expected. point differential over/under their opponents average point differential. lotta variables in basketball, thus the lack of clear cut metrics like there are in baseball. It’s less isolated individual action.

    free throw shooting is the only pure stat in the game.

    it HAS to be a good sign that walker/hendo/mkg/mullens/biz lineup (being a big part of our young core) is one of the stronger lineups and with good sample size. that lineup would only get better with time (years). That same lineup with taylor instead of henderson there is a big big difference. Kind of goes against all of that taylor needs to start argument.

  • charlottean

    i would be ok with throwing a minimum contract at greg oden but no effing way would I put anything significant on those knees. Maybe a deal with an out sure…..but go all david khan and give brandon roy a 3 year deal guaranteed? no effing way. but if you get reasonable healthy oden to play up to a slightly better roy hibbert along with the current group? would make for a great asset off the bench and fit in with the age group of these guys well. no pressure on him either. they would have to make a press release saying “we don’t think greg will ever play, but we’re hoping he might” to tame fan expectations.

  • Spencer/SDS

    The main issue with just looking at stats for the NBA is that there are sooo many stats….have to look at what a player does in double teams…when in a losing vs winning situation, by quarters…by minutes….have to look at the stats of other players that they are guarding and see if their average is better then when the guy you are looking at statistically is….sooo many stats…soo many variables…the stats can answer a lot of the variables….it just takes soo much work to do so…everything every league (IMO) will go the “moneyball” route…it will probably just take a far longer time to happen…simply because of how many stats there truly are…

    Greg Oden…any and every (other then Portland) team should go after him for a mid level contract…if not even cheaper…the potential for him is well…probably a LITTLE better then Zig(something-was with LeBron in Cleveland)…big boy who is a defensive force…won’t be too much offensively, good rebounder….also Greg may need to learn to just not jump unless he can have a nice soft landing…or run a lot

  • charlottean

    ^^^ but that’s not worth a mid level contract with the injury concerns. his upside isn’t ewing or mutombo like everyone thought coming out. even when he was healthy, he was a solid center. not incredible. not dwight howard. i would go minimum maybe 2 million tops. and only multi year if it were in that range and had injury clause in it. it’s not going to be insurable which means untradeable. treat him like the 15th guy and it’ll never hurt you. treat him like the 7th guy and the odds are against you.

    as for the stat discussion….too many variables. I personally like points per possession used and points allowed per possession used, but neither can account for transition play. Neither can account for someone else doing all the work before the end result gets tallied up for someone else.

    Example: walker can make a steal and run the break and dump off to MKG for the lay in. Walker gets steal and assist, but MKG gets the layup. Who produced the bucket? When you look at eFG or PPS, walker isn’t getting credit for the assist there. and MKG is getting credit as if he created the bucket. there’s something to be said for being at the right place at the right time, but some things are misleading.

    example 2: vucevic gets 30 boards, a large majority of which are tip backs on the offensive glass. did he rebound 30 legitimate shots? no. should tips count as rebounds? yes. they have to. isolated, tips can be equally as beneficial as a rebound. but in general? not usually. but they count and should.

    example 3: tinsley turns it over to kemba in example 1….carroll runs back in transition D 2 on 1 break. ultimately he gets scored on…..why would he get a negative view defensively? he didn’t make the error that resulted in the bucket. so you count it against tinsley? then you’re counting it both as a negative on offense and on defense for the same 1 error. can’t do that can you? then you don’t count transition and you only count half court play. then how do you account for tayshaun prince or lebron’s ability to erase transition buckets. or for MKG to finish them. or for kemba to create them?

    basketball can be opinionated based on evidence of stats. it’s safe to imagine that most good teams are going to have good stats. but to assemble a team of players based on a particular metric and expect great outcomes is foolish. there are wayyyy too many variables to isolate to determine root causes. a guy can hate a coach. a coach can misuse a player (sam vincent playing raymond felton at the 2). stats cannot account for that.

    it works in baseball because ALL of baseball is isolated individual efforts. the only exception to that is 2 defenders colliding going after the same ball on defense. or maybe a guys steal % when a hit and run gets blown. but hitting, fielding and pitching can be isolated 99.9% and base stealing and speed around the bases and things can too. umpires have wayyyyyyy less impact on a game than basketball refs do. plus they can measure an umpires strike zone a lot easier than they can manage joey crawford’s insanity. that’s instincts vs. mood swings and emotions and baldness. there’s a finite aspect of baseball that no other sport has. it’s like chess in that way.

    football CANNOT be measured statistically. tim tebow can’t throw a football but he can win a football game if john fox coached it. matt stafford can have elite passer ratings and watch the playoffs from the couch. even more variables than basketball. playcalling and line strength has SO MUCH more impact on football than anything else.