Unfamiliar Lineups: the test of teamness

With the season ending injury to Danilo Gallinari and the uncertain return date of Ty Lawson things have changed in Denver. But the drive to the playoffs continues and I decided to have a look on to see what lineups George Karl may turn to.

Looking at the 5 Man lineup results I quickly realized how little time has been played this year with neither Gallo nor Ty on the court.

One thing is clear: unfamiliar lineups are going to appear regularly, especially until the return of Lawson. This will test the flexibility of the players and the system, especially at the defensive end where breakdowns are so costly.

This will be the second significant factor in addition to the loss of the contributions of Gallo and Lawson (while he remains injured). Combinations at both ends of the floor improve with court time and Denver has just not had much time with lineups that don't include either Gallo or Ty. Hopefully, nearly a seasons worth of practicing together, Karls flexible lineup strategy throughout the season, and the team based playing style of Denver will allow them to rise to the challenge and demonstrate the power of teamness.

Here is a look at the results:

For context after 76 games ratings for all Denver lineups are:

OffRtg_107.5 DefRtg_102.1 NteRtg_+5.4

5man lineups with min>12:


Points to Note:

  • Only 10 5man lineups have logged at least a quarter (12mins) of total playing time together (note: this decreases the reliability of the results)
  • Only 2 lineups have played significant time (blue numbers 1&2) with the 3rd lineup in minutes being a ‘garbage time' lineup
  • The top ranked lineup in NetRtg is likely to see an increase in time playing together, and while the results look very promising the small time (19mins) limits the significance of the Rtgs
  • Both the 2nd and 3rd ranked NetRtg lineups are ‘twin tower' lineups. It will be very interesting to see if these make an appearance

Because there were so few 5man lineups I also looked at 4man lineups that have played over a game of time together (48 mins). Here are the top 15 NetRtg results.


These are probably more helpful results for speculating on lineups. Beginning with the successful 4man lineups above and adding a 5th man from the remaining available Nuggets players may provide some ideas on lineups that may appear on court (especially for potential lineups involving players such as Evan Fournier or Anthony Randolph who have not previously logged significant minutes in many lineups).

At the end of the regular season (or perhaps the return of Lawson) I will try to post a follow up breakdown to analyze the lineups that were played, and compare them to the lineups charts in this post, so see how the lineups actually played out.

Out of interest, I also tried to link the 4man and 5man lineups together to show the connections between them to aid any comparison between charts (click on chart for large version).


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