The Lab: A Look At Lineup Chemistry (Part 1)

  • By Joe Simpson, Day 89, 2022


We’re going to look at the best, and worst, lineups currently playing in the league. We’ll put the divide at a minimum of fifty minutes played.

Atlanta

Taquan Slattery-Roy Ellington-Curtis Westley-Javion Edwards-Cedric Brisby: -25.6 (91.7-117.3) in 49:46

The Devils pride themselves on defense; their main lineup, which includes James Spencer, Taquan Slatter, Cortez Ellison, and Marques Thomas around Edwards, has a defensive rating of 93.9. This lineup has a defensive rating of 117.3, with only a 91.7 ORtg.

Interestingly enough, if you put the starters back in, but replace Edwards with Curtis Westley, the Devils have a net of 34.3 (122-96) in the same amount of time.

Austin

Isaiah Foreman-Orien Young-Lorenzen Eyles-Jabari Warren-Rubin Wingfield – 40.0 (119.4-79.4) in 53:14

The typical group of Foreman-Young-Zach McCray-Quinton Rice-Wingfield has a net of 2.9. This group has shot 46.9%, as opposed to the 44.3% the most played lineup has shot. What is most impressive is their defense, which has allowed just a 79.4 DRtg. The Devils actually have four lineups of +25 or better, though the other three have not played more than 33 minutes.

Their worst lineup utilizes Orlando Alade in place of Young. In 84 minutes, they have boasted a -20.3 net, being outscored by 32 in that time. Their free throw percentage with this group out there is just 48.7%, compared to the 73.8% they are with Young in there. That is insane.

Baltimore

Jeremiah Augustin-Quadree Ratliff-DaQuan White-Reggie Goodwin-Jaylen Barker - -25.4 (97-4-122-8) in 56:23

The Bullets, who have rallied to 9-34, generally employ three lineups (their main lineup of Dimitri Ilic, Randall Dozier, Brandon Kelly, Goodwin and DeAndre Morgan has played nearly 800 minutes, out of a possible 2,064 regulation minutes). Only two other lineups have posted 100+ minutes. This lineup is their most egregious (outside of one that puts Jeremiah Augustin and Jaylen Barker with the starters that rates -48.4 in 36:19). The main culprit is…well, general shooting. The main lineup shoots 42.3% from the field, which is not good. This lineup puts up 39.3% from the field, and 29.8% from deep. The team has enough issues on offense (only one lineup shoots 50% from the field, and they’ve played 21 minutes).This lineup is their most challenging.

Their best lineup, which has Augustin in with the starters, has a net of +10.2 in 63:29. That lineup shoots 44.6% together.

Boston

Brandon Markson-Kyle Northwood-Reggie Hodges-Tremaine Miles-Devon Harrell - -25.9 (69.7-95.6) in 76:22

No team can get by without offense. Boston, like Baltimore, is devoid of it. But this lineup, in which Hodgets and Miles take the place of Tyrese Porter and Derek Cousins, simply cannot put the ball in the bucket. They shot 39.3%, second-worst of any lineup that gets even semi-regular run (they have a lineup that shoots 30.6% from the field, and has a -45.5 rating; interestingly enough, they haven’t miss a free throw with this lineup). There isn’t much to make from this, given that Cousins and Porter both shoot about 40% from the field. But they average a combined 21.7 ppg, which is difficult to replace with the lack of offensive depth the Crusaders currently have. Shooting 29.8% from deep will not help.

The lineup they utilize third most, which has Kareem Gaines in place of Cousins, has their net, at 16.8 over 82:24. Oddly enough, they might be less efficient than the aforementioned lineup, shooting just 27.8% from three, and 56.5% from the line. Yet, they post an ORtg of 107.3. That may be due to Gaines’ relative lack of usage (Cousins shoots it six more times a game, playing just ten minutes more on average).

Charlotte

Khalen Anthony-Jahmal Diggs-Reggie Coleman-Ruben Wingate-Joe Layton - -32.9 (80.7-113.7) in 149:20

The Drones have thrown many things against the wall. In 41 games, their most used lineup is the one above. It is also their least effective lineup, save for two that include Anthony and Coleman and have net ratings of -42.7 and -54.1, respectively (in about 30 minutes apiece). The problem with each of those lineups is the obvious lack of offense. This particular lineup has a ORtg of 80.7, shooting 38.2% from the field. When your best lineup, one that has a net rating of +9.5, is shooting just 45%, well…that lends itself to 9-32 pretty well.

Chicago

Rasheed Stone-Dameon Clarke-Keydren Carter-Dorian McCleary-Jason Cheaney - +22.5 (124-101.8) in 245.41

This lineup is more efficient than the most-used one, which has Myree Billings in place of Cheaney at the point. This group shoots 52.7% from the field, and an amazing 44.7% from three. The Jailbirds walk a fine line between overusing this lineup, which may be why the Billings lineup has gotten more run (Billings has just 12 starts, but he averages 26.3 mpg; Dorian McCleary, who has started 33 of the 42 games, averages just 21.1). The Billings lineup is no slouch, posting a +12.9 rating.

The problem for the Jailbirds, it appears, is lack of depth at the center spot. Lineups involving Antoine Willis instead of Stone are posting negative ratings in all but one (which has a +38.1 rating, go figure). The top three lineups are all wildly efficient on offense, and a big reason why Chicago is already at thirty wins this year.

Cincinnati

Latrell Mason-Richmond Benson-Victor Olojakpoke-Detrez Owens-Tyson Ferguson - +26.0 (126.6-100.5) in 92:30

The youthful Kings, who have Latrell Mason and Victor Olojakpoke playing big roles in their rookie seasons, have shown to be mostly effective. This lineup in particular, which has Tyson Ferguson at the point instead of Christian Vickery, has allowed for Mason and Poke to do more with the ball. This is in part to Ferguson’s usage; he takes three fewer attempts per game than Vickery, in about the same amount of time.

This isn’t to say that Vickery has been a problem; the time he has with the other four starters has posted a +16.5 rating, with one of the toughest defenses in the league (96.1). They have played nearly four times as much as the lineup above.

On the flipside, the Jailbirds have two absolutely disastrous lineups. One, which pairs Mason, Owens, and Ferguson with JaMarucs Thybulle and Xavier Turner, has a -48.9 rating in 45:34. That group shoots just 29.6% from the field, and 13.8% from three. And one with Omari Woodley in Mason’s place with the four above lists a -60.5 rating. The reason for that: a 150.0 DRtg. Woodley doesn’t seem to be the reason for it, though; he averages 1.24 blocks in 16.4 minutes a game, and has a 102.2 DRtg by himself. That’s the same as Mason.

Dallas

Terrel Timmins-Marquis Davis-Clyde Draper-Admiral Morant-Igor Hartfield - -49.0 (79.1-128.0) in 38:20
Deandre Stackhouse-Robert Weekes-Clyde Draper-Heath Bruton-Jermaine Wade - -22.5 (76.1-98.6) in 35:36
Deandre Stackhouse-Robert Weekes-Kellen Chambers-Heath Bruton-Igor Hartfield - -15.9 (97.5-113.3) in 35:05


If you look at Dallas, you see a team that appears to be right there. Yeah, their top nine lineups all have negative net ratings. But their top four lineups, which all include some combination of Stackhouse, Davis, Chambers, Bruton, Wade, Chambers and Draper, all have ratings of -3.7 or better. Those teams are quite competitive, albeit on the losing side of it. They have the mark of a team more like 21-22.

The above three lineups are singled out because that is where they seemingly lose games. The offense goes out the window with those unites on the floor. (Well, so does the defense, for the first one and third one.) There is a dip overall in the first one, where Stackhouse, Bruton, and Wade are all absent. Draper is absent in the second one, which sees a terrible output from three (21.4%).

In short, the makeup of those units leads to bad offensive chemistry. With the Predators unable to score consistently, games get away from them. They are not a great defensive team, but two of their top three units post a 99 DRtg. That is solid enough (now, offensively, they struggle with those teams out there, too). But things fly off the rails when these lineups show up, and it’s disastrous to Dallas’ efforts to win ballgames.