The Bobcats are 5-4 – surprise! So how did the team get here? Or, to put it another way, which lineups have gotten the team off to the start no one envisioned? Let’s take a look with the www.bkref.com Play Index + Lineup Finder.
Every NBA team (usually) likes to start their best lineup. It could be argued the Thunder did not follow conventional wisdom the past few seasons in bringing James Harden off the bench, and everyone is familiar with the role Manu Ginobili has played for the Spurs. You could possibly argue the same for this current Bobcats starting lineup, as I myself was critical of Taylor getting the starting nod after Henderson went down. He did not look comfortable in his first appearance in the starting lineup and I was convinced it would be his last. However, Coach Dunlap has stuck with the rookie in the first five and it has paid dividends to date.
As you can see below, the current starting lineup has a Net Differential of 12.2 points (per 100 possessions). The insertion of Taylor for the injured Gerald Henderson has even increased the efficiency of the first five by 1.1 points, lending credence to the argument of some who would like to see Henderson come off the bench when he rejoins the team.
The lineup that has seen the second most minutes on the floor? It’s the five Coach Dunlap has elected to log the majority of minutes down the stretch the past few games, with Sessions sliding in at SG for the rookie Taylor. This lineup has netted the Bobcats 1.7 points per 100 possessions over nearly 32 minutes of play.
The two lineups that have been more successful than the starting five to date? I say give it some time (though I hope it continues). These two lineups have only seen 10 and 17 minutes on the floor together, respectively – so I think we need a few more games of data to make any real conclusions. One conclusion we can make? Coach Dunlap plays the lineups that work. The bottom three in productivity have all logged less than 14 minutes on the court, with all the other combinations sans the current “best” lineup (I’m calling it an outlier given the inclusion of Biyombo) getting more run. It may seem like an easy thing to do as Coach – play your most successful lineups more often. But run the tool on a handful of other teams and see if it pans out that way.