I am a sucker for on-court/off-court stats and X-man unit stats, which I am pulling from Basketball-Reference.com for this post, unless otherwise noted. I know they can get blurred a bit by small sample sizes, the Bucks were +22.2/100 possessions better in Gustavo Ayon’s 163 minutes, but for the most part they confirm what one would think watching the game. Among players that played significant minutes, which I defined as 390 minutes or approx. 10% of the 3,936 minutes in an 82 game season; Mike Dunleavy, Larry Sanders, and JJ Redick(he managed to play 20% of the year while only being a Buck for 30 games!) were the only Bucks with on-court splits. If I expand this to the difference between on-court and off-court; Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova, and Luc Mbah a Moute. Like I said, those are the guys one would expect for the most part, except for Ellis and Mbah a Moute, though the Price was basically even.
As the headline suggests, I specifically want to explore how Larry Drew doled out his minutes among his different lineups. I believe if there is a dramatic talent difference between the two teams, the less talented should try whatever they can to get away from the traditional ways to match-up of two guards, two forwards, and a center. His Atlanta Hawk’s team put out 10 different 5 man lineups in the 2012-2013 season that played at least 48 minutes together. For reference, our Bucks had 13 play a full game and another 3 with a handful of minutes of 48. His “typical” lineup featured the traditional breakdown, were the top 3 and 7th of the 10, and absorbed 25% of available minutes. He was also a fan of “going big”, usually by dropping Kyle Korver to the “2″ and inserting either new Buck Zaza Pachulia or Anthony Tolliver, both “stretch” bigs who did their best offensive work away from the basket.
None of this surprises me, as most coaches will start the game with a traditional lineup, whether this is their best 5-man unit or not. After that, looking over his bench, Drew’s reserve bigs were a more talented bunch than his back up guards and wings. This makes me hopeful that he tailors his lineups to his team rather than having hard and fast rules about lineups and forcing players into roles they weren’t suited for. Looking over the Bucks current roster, without the possible trade I advocated for last week, I would guess we will see many lineups that look an awful lot like the Knight-Mayo-Delfino-Ilyasova-Sanders lineup that will likely start. Looking over the bench, the most playing time will likely go to Neal or Ridnour in the backcourt, with Hensen and Zaza first in up front. This will lead to a number of bench and starter/bench mixed units following the typical 5-man unit structure. I would guess most non-traditional units will stem from the lack of wing depth, with Mayo and Ersan seeing time at the 3 to ease the burden on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Now, this will all be thrown out of whack should my Epke Udoh for a wing trade prediction comes to fruition, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.