14 Lineups I’m Hoping to See in 2016-17

It’s still the offseason, but many coaches are already thinking about constructing lineups and rotations and considering what their depth charts might look like come opening night. This is in no way an article suggesting starting lineups or declaring depth charts, but rather one identifying intriguing five-man rotations that we should see at some point or another, if only as an experiment. As you may have expected, these 14 lineups come from teams that failed to make the playoffs last season.

Chicago Bulls – Denzel Valentine, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis

A still-useful antique, a couple young whippersnappers, and two vets shakes things up for Chicago. The latter three shared the floor for 103 minutes last season (via nbawowy.com) while faring pretty well together offensively. McBuckets stepping into Wade’s spot in this lineup provides Chicago with by far its best three-point shooting group, and that alone makes it tantalizing. That might actually be a rotation I’m secretly more excited about, but Wade’s defense and savvy keeps him in this conversation for now.

Washington Wizards – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Andrew Nicholson

Throwing Andrew Nicholson (who has a 7-4 wingspan) at center would provide the Wizards with a world of spacing. Then again, Nicholson has not proven himself to be a defensively dominant force like Mahinmi, so it’s doubtful we see this lineup all that often unless Marcin Gortat is dealt. The concern about the aforementioned lineup with Mahinmi in place of Nicholson is obviously spacing. Can Otto Porter and John Wall shoot well enough to spread the floor? If we assume Beal can stay healthy and Morris is locked in that’s a decent start, but Mahinmi isn’t exactly rangy. I’m figuring the lineup with Mahinmi will work best because they can D up and get a stop and then run John and Ian spread pick-and-rolls ‘til the cows come home, but coach Scott Brooks will have to try some stuff.

Orlando Magic – Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka

Payton has been pushed out of many of these lineups floating around on the web due to poor shooting, but his defensive ability (plus the chance to move Gordon down to the 4) is dreamy. This puts the Magic’s two priciest big men on the bench in Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic. Thus, it will be extremely rare that we see it unless injuries strike, but it provides Payton and the Magic with solid spacing despite its point guard.

Milwaukee Bucks – Matthew Dellavedova, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson

For some reason, this feels so right. The four-man duo minus Delly saw just 108 minutes together in 2015-16, and it might not eclipse that this year given how many centers are on the roster. Still, I’m petitioning for it from my laptop, albeit only in the form of this mini-paragraph. I’d happily settle for Thon Maker at the 5 instead of Henson though. Either way, please see to it Mr. Kidd.

New York Knicks – Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, Justin Holiday, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis

OK, this time I am making a starting lineup suggestion. Stop trying to make Porzingis into a power forward and unleash Justin Holiday as a starting small forward in the NBA. I want to see Joakim Noah stay healthy and wreak havoc for a playoff team in MSG, and a sixth man role with a few less minutes might help facilitate both of those things.

Brooklyn Nets – Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough

I gave Justin Hamilton some love earlier this week in our X-Factor series, so now it’s time to toss out a three-guard lineup complete with RHJ at the 4 and McCullough at the 5. The Nets can roll out some serious small-ball lineups this season, but none smaller than this. McCullough boasts a 7-3 wingspan and finished 2015-16 on fire from the outside.

Philadelphia 76ers – Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington Jerami Grant, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Bayless was a part of the Greek Freak’s unleashing last season. He’s long, strong, and can shoot the sideline three. Covington is one of the most underrated defenders and outside shooters in basketball, possessing the versatility to cover 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s. Grant is an outside shot away from shocking the world. And then there’s the rookie duo of Embiid and Simmons. Along with Bayless and Covington, Embiid provides enough spacing at the 5 to help Philly form one of its few lineups that won’t be deprived of spacing.

Utah Jazz – George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, and Rudy Gobert

Utah has so much depth that it’s easy to get left out of the equation. Derrick Favors, Trey Lyles, Boris Diaw, Alec Burks, and Dante Exum are watching in this scenario, as the 3-D Jazz take over the hardwood.

Sacramento Kings – Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins

The Kings probably have to go against the grain if they’re going to make any noise this season: insert Temple to increase the height and length advantage while moving to a small-ball 4 in Matt Barnes. It’s worth a shot.

Denver Nuggets – Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Nikola Jokic

Wilson Chandler’s interchangeability adds another dimension to Denver’s core, Harris, Mudiay, and Jokic are still budding talents, and Gallo is one of the most well-rounded offensive players in the NBA. Due to spacing concerns surrounding Mudiay that mirror Elfrid Payton’s in Orlando, the coaching staff will have to be creative in constructing lineups around him. This is precisely what makes Mudiay and Kenneth Faried an unfriendly on-court pairing.

New Orleans Pelicans – Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Anthony Davis

One of the many small-ball lineups New Orleans will put together this season, the Pelicans can rely on Galloway and Moore to help Davis facilitate, and they’ve got more than enough height, length, and grit to cover defensively.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns

Wiggins doesn’t have the bulk to survive one-on-one matchups against bigger, stronger fours, but so what? The three-guard lineup with Wiggins and Towns may not be part of Tom Thibodeau’s plan, but it’s certainly on my wish list.

Phoenix Suns – Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, Jared Dudley, and Marquese Chriss

The Suns might not make the postseason in 2016-17, but coach Earl Watson will have a lot of options when it comes to building rotations once P.J. Tucker (back) returns. There’s essentially no chance we see this lineup much in the immediate future with Alex Len and Tyson Chandler occupying the full 48 at the 5, but Chriss at the center theoretically transforms the team into small-ball eye candy.

Los Angeles Lakers – D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng, Larry Nance Jr.

Nance owns a 7-1.5 wingspan that might allow him to survive at center, and enough energy to keep Jack Nicholson awake and in attendance. Deng thrived playing the 4 in Miami last year in order to earn the big deal L.A. offered him. Why mess with a good thing there? Clarkson seems set to earn a starting gig again as well. Meanwhile, youngsters Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell will get plenty of minutes, with Luke Walton showing himself to be the opposite of Byron Scott.

Arrow to top