With an already thin Laker lineup seemingly getting thinner by the day without Chris Mihm and Devean George, Phil Jackson has had to get creative to find a group that works. For example, starting classic energy-off-the-bench-guy Ronnie Turiaf against Minnesota last night (that may also have been a lesson to Brian Cook about playing defense â€” and it seemed to work as Cook had a good third quarter and was a team-best +10).
That move got me thinking about what lineup works best without Mihm and George, so I did a little looking over at 82games.com. What follows is the results of lineups without those two, with comments.
(As a side note, their minutes played may seem low but I think there are two reasons for that: 1) early in the season guys like McKie and Profit got a decent amount of floor time, but Iâ€™m not counting them in this because they are not really playing now; 2) these stats are not current as of last night, Iâ€™m not sure when the last update on this was at 82games.com, they tend to be a week or two behind because of the amazing volume of information they process)
Parker-Bryant-Odom-Cook-Brown, bested opposing five 42.1% of the time. This is the most used lineup without those two, having played 182 minutes. This group is like a microcosm of the Lakers this season when they lose â€” they shoot a very good 50.2% (eFG%) from the floor, but let opponents shoot an even better 51.3%.
Parker-Bryant-Walton-Odom-Brown, bested opposing five 41.6% of the time. Iâ€™d like to see more of this lineup â€” they shoot 54.9%, besting the (still good) 50% by opponents. This was the lineup on the floor at the last half of the fourth quarter against Minnesota and was +3. They played the last few minutes of the third quarter against Sacramento together and were +4. The fact they have lost to opponents on the season may be a factor of just small sample size â€” they havenâ€™t been out together much and may have been matched up poorly a couple times. 82games has them playing 45 minutes.
Vujacic-Bryant-Walton-Odom-Brown, bested opposing five 45.4% of the time. Same lineup as above but with Sasha from Smush. My gut reaction is we would have seen more of this lineup than the 48 minutes they have played this season, but upon further thought it struck me as a weak defensive group, and Phil hates that. They allow opponents to shoot 53.5% while shooting 49.4% themselves. The upside is this is a good ball-handling lineup, which is why it wins the turnover battle by 8% against the other five.
Parker-Bryant-Walton-Odom-Cook, bested opposing five 66.6% of the time. The Lakers have had some success going small, although you have to pick your spots with that. Again, the success here may be a reflection of picking those sports well â€” in the 34 minutes this group has been on the court opponents have shot 57.1%. While this lineup has shot 52.3%, that is not a tradeoff that means long-term success.
Vujacic-Bryant-Odom-Cook-Brown, bested opposing five 57.1% of the time. Same lineup as the most-used five, but with Sasha for Smush, and it has had some success in the 29 minutes it has played together. They shoot an impressive 52.5%, but give up 53.3% to opponents. The reason for their success is winning the turnover battle by 18%.