Lineups of the Week - 12/1/18
Two Way Lineup I Like- Rockets Finding Their Go-To Five
It has been a rough year for the Houston Rockets. Both their defense and their offense have taken turns pooping itself. Injuries and suspensions have been brutal as well. Depth is a serious issue. Still, amidst all of their inconsistent play, they have finally found a lineup that works on both ends.
The lineup is James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J Tucker, Gary Clark, and Clint Capela. Harden is back to his MVP ways posting ridiculous stat lines. Gordon has finally got his shot back and is coming off a 36-point explosion. Tucker is one of the best defensive players in the league, guarding every position at times and on offense, he knows his role and never messes up. Then there is the rookie sensation Gary Clark who has helped the Rockets when they have needed it the most.
He is only hitting 27% of his threes, but defensively he has been solid. Clark has a positive defensive RPM of 0.43, impressive for a rookie. He fits what Houston needs. Then there is Capela, who the Rockets are lost without. He anchors their defense, is a dangerous roll man and is Houston's only good rebounder.
This lineup has only played 30 minutes so far but has a net rating of +50, including an absurd 155 offensive rating and a solid 104 defensive rating. Expect this lineup to play more, especially with Paul out. I am surprised it took so long for the Rockets to play this group more. Houston should consider starting this group as well
This play shows the value of Tucker. Harden is stuck in the corner being double-teamed, but Tucker has a well-timed cut and Harden feeds him. Tucker then bulldozes Devin Harris and gets the easy lineup. Every team needs a P.J Tucker.
Defensive Lineup I Like- Wolves’ Bench Unit
Since the Wolves traded Jimmy Butler for Robert Covington and Dario Saric, they have become a new team especially on defense. With Butler they were 29th, since he left they have moved all the way up to 4th. A lion’s share of credit goes to Covington, who may be a defensive player of the year. Yeah I said it. Covington has a defensive RPM of 4.55, which is over a whole point better than the next small forward. He has been smothering.
Then there is Derrick Rose, who may be the sixth man of the year, averaging 19 points per game. He has shown a much improved three-point shot and he has the best net rating on the team. Tyus Jones has long been a plus-minus god. He is like Tucker for Houston; he doesn't mess up. Good passer, solid defender and knows his role. Gorgui Dieng is even having a bounce back year, playing solid defense, rebounding, and has shown a much-improved shot selection. Then there is Dario, whose shot is coming back in addition to helping the Wolves on the glass.
Depth has been an issue for a long time in Minnesota, but it’s finally becoming a strength. It has carried them at times. Especially with Andrew Wiggins getting worse by the game. Minnesota is now back in the playoff conversation, and this lineup is a big reason for it. In 55 minutes, this group has been smothering on defense with an 80 defensive rating. They have a 116 offensive rating for a +35 net rating.
Here is a nice two man game with Dieng and Rose. It’s a little give and go, Rose drives and draws two defenders, then Saric who is out at the three-point line has a perfectly timed cut for the easy slam. Simple basketball from a group that complements each other well.
Offensive Lineup I Like- Mavs’ Bench Unit
The Mavs have also entered the playoff conversation. A lot of that is due to rookie extraordinaire Luka Doncic, but a lot of credit goes to their bench. They have been impressive this season. J.J Barea remains one of the most underrated players in the league, getting buckets and dishing dimes in his sleep. Then there is Devin Harris in his 12th stint with Dallas, hitting threes and playing solid defense.
Their plus/minus god is Dwight Powell, who has honestly been better than DeAndre Jordan this year. Kleber has emerged as a floor spacer and rim protector randomly. Then there is Dorian Finney-Smith, who can guard multiple positions and is hitting 38% of his threes. This ragtag group has been balling.
On offense, they have been unstoppable. In 40 minutes, they have a 135 offensive rating with a 117 defensive rating for a +18 net rating. Not awesome on defense, but good enough considering how good their offense has been.
Barea and Powell run a pick and roll that initially goes nowhere, but it does suck the defense in allowing Harris to cut into the paint. Barea feeds him with a nice bounce pass for the layup. These two are 1,000 years old and still getting buckets.