The Washington Wizards played a total of six lineups more than 19 games in the 2017-17 NBA season. Some lineups worked much better than others.In the modern NBA, having a lineup for every type of scenario is crucial. Since the Golden State Warriors started their reign of terror in the league, many teams have started to shift to smaller lineups, eliminating post-up play and traditional big men for crunch-time lineups. The NBA has started a phase with an emphasis on efficient scoring, caring more about three-point percentage and shots at the rim than midrangers and post moves. In this new era of the NBA, it’s interesting to see what a team’s best and worst lineups are over an entire season. This shows exactly what type of personnel is on the court for the most successful box score numbers. Below is the best lineup (based off of plus/minus) the Washington Wizards played more than 19 regular season games: Lineup: cheap jerseys John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat (+3.4 plus/minus)
There’s not much surprise here. The Wizards were a pretty solid team in the 2016-17 NBA season, so it makes sense their starting lineup would be their best combination. In an NBA where lineups are getting smaller and smaller, Marcin Gortat is still the best option to protect the rim and rebound for Washington. But what might be more interesting is to take a look at the other five lineups the Washington Wizards frequented this year: Lineup 1: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr., Marcin Gortat (+2.2 plus/minus)
Lineup 2: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat (+0.2 plus/minus)
Lineup 3: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris (-0.1 plus/minus)
Lineup 4: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Jason Smith (-1.0 plus/minus)
Lineup 5: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Jason Smith, Marcin Gortat (-1.3 plus/minus)
There are a couple of key takeaways from these numbers. The first one and probably most obvious is that John Wall and Bradley Beal are in every single one of these lineups. This just shows that those two are very much at the center of everything the Washington Wizards do. The second takeaway, and the most alarming one, is that the Wizards only have two commonly used lineups from the entire NBA 2016-17 season with a plus/minus of more than 1.0. For reference, the Golden State Warriors have seven lineups that are all net positive last season.
This snapshot at lineups just shows how a lack of depth is extremely detrimental to Washington. If the Wizards are unable to field more than two lineup combinations for extended periods of time, they will be in huge trouble come playoff time. Hopefully the signings of Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott will give the Wizards more flexibility in their lineups, allowing John Wall and Bradley Beal to rest on the bench without their team crumbling around them. The third takeaway is that the Wizards have tried to use a small-ball lineup and haven’t really figured it out yet. Lineup 3 consists of two guards and three forwards, using no traditional big man. The problem is, the lineup was a net negative for the team. What the Warriors have (and other teams have that have succeeded with small ball lineups), is a bunch of wing forwards who can guard multiple positions. The reason the Wizards’ small-ball lineup isn’t working is most likely because Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. aren’t able to guard multiple positions yet.
If those two can work on their defensive game and hold their own against opponents both smaller and bigger than them, the Wizards may have the makings of a fantastic small-ball lineup, but until then, keep the Polish Hammer Marcin Gortat on the court…please.