Which Lineups Work Best For The Grizzlies?

With the Grizzlies about to head to the playoffs, Lionel Hollins will have some decisions to make about what lineups he wants to put on the court.  Thankfully, these days we have the technology to see which 5-man lineups play well, and which ones falter. So, with a great deal of help with the folks at Basketball-Reference, let’s take a look at the three most effective lineups the Grizzlies have used this season. For obvious reasons, lineups that include Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, and Wayne Ellington will not be included.

1. T. Allen | M. Conley | E. Davis | M. Gasol | T. Prince (+23.8 points per 100 possessions)

This group is basically the starting five, with Ed Davis in place of Zach Randolph. You can see how it would be an effective group; the Grizzlies have a very efficient starting five, while Davis can put up impressive numbers in a short period of time. Still, I’d be surprised if this lineup got too much play, if only because it seems unlikely that Z-Bo would be on the bench while every other starter is in the game. Still, during games when he gets into early foul trouble, it’s a relief to know that the Grizzlies’ stopgap option might be the most effective group they have.

2. J. Bayless | M. Conley | M. Gasol | T. Prince | Z. Randolph (+22.8)

Having Bayless and Conley on the court at the same time is interesting, since it allows the Grizzlies to play the closest thing they have to small ball, and run on a relatively speedy offense. We could see this lineup at times when offensed is needed above all else, and Hollins is willing to accept the decrease in defensive prowess that comes with taking Toy Allen off the court. Bayless is something of a combo guard, so putting ham the 2 is not an enormous challenge for him.

3. T. Allen | M. Conley | M. Gasol | T. Prince | Z. Randolph (+12.4)

Not a great deal to say about this group; it’s the current starting five; you want them to be an effective group, and for the Grizzlies, they are. They exceed their opponent’s production in nearly every significant category, and make 2.7 fewer turnovers for 100 possessions. The grizzlies have a cohesive starting lineup, which is key, since it will allow them to get off to early leads in playoff games where that sort of thing is very important.

Here’s where the good news ends, Grizzlies fans; every other lineup in the Grizzlies arsenal allows more per 100 possessions than they score.  The Grizzlies essentially have three lineups that work extremely well, and after that it gets rather dicey. Many five-man groups simply don’t work well together, despite what the players individual numbers would have you believe. One group Hollins should avoid at all costs is Conley, Allen, Quincy Pondexter, Gasol, and Z-Bo. For whatever reason, this lineup has been dreadful. They’ve been outscored by 13.6 points per 100 possessions, and they’re shooting 9.7% worse than their opponents.

We’ll see if coach Hollis will be able to stick to the most effective lineups come playoff time, although sometimes foul trouble can force coaches into putting out groups that are less than optimum. In any case, there are clearly some lineups that work a lot better than others, and hopefully they’ll be able to get on the court a great deal in the postseason.

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