The Wizards Season Story Told In 5-Man Units | Truth About It.net

The Wizards Season Story Told In 5-Man Units

By
Updated: April 1, 2012

NBA coaches are constantly tinkering with their five-man units. Whether someone starts or not really takes a back seat to the primary concern of which players work well together, and only then, how match-ups can be exploited. In the very least, lineup data can tell us which combinations of Wizards have best played together with success (must less whom they are doing it against… high- or low-quality opponents). The lineup statistics for these 2011-12 Wizards also tell of a failed plan from the start. But if the ultimate goal was to get a top four pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, then maybe Ernie Grunfeld & Co. haven’t failed after all.

Eighteen different five-man units have played 25 or more minutes together for Washington this season. Below is the distribution of those lineups ranked by minutes played, and including the plus/minus per 48 minutes for that lineup. Yes, one lineup this season played 41 minutes together and would have been down by 38.4 points had they hypothetically played an entire game together against hypothetical competition. It’s hypothetically pretty sad. I’ve bolded the five lineups with a positive plus/minus per 48 minutes, if that helps.

MIN +/-
201 -9.8
110 -8.7
109 -16.8
107 -4.5
93 6.7
78 -4.9
63 -8.3
61 -18.1
43 -26.7
41 -38.4
37 -24.9
31 6.2
28 12.2
26 5.6
25 -9.8
25 7.7
25 -2
25 -17.6

OK, so what if we were to rank those 18 lineups by best to worst plus/minus per 48 minutes, but hiding all names except for those of JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Nene. What if…

Lineup MIN +/-
McGee.JaVale 28 12.2
Young.Nick 25 7.7
Hilario.Nene 93 6.7
Hilario.Nene 31 6.2
McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 26 5.6
25 -2
107 -4.5
McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 78 -4.9
McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 63 -8.3
Blatche.Andray – McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 110 -8.7
McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 201 -9.8
Blatche.Andray – McGee.JaVale 25 -9.8
McGee.JaVale 109 -16.8
25 -17.6
Blatche.Andray – McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 61 -18.1
McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 37 -24.9
McGee.JaVale – Young.Nick 43 -26.7
Blatche.Andray – McGee.JaVale 41 -38.4

Interesting. McGee was certainly capable of playing in the best lineup per 48, for 28 minutes; Young in the second best for 25 minutes; even both of them in the fifth best lineup together for 26 minutes. But out of the five positive plus/minus lineups, Nene already is heavily present in the two five-man units with the most minutes together — 93 minutes with a plus-6.7 per 48, and 31 with a plus-6.2 per 48.

The negative lineups — a strong indicator of the Wizards’ horrendous season to-date — heavily feature Young, Blatche and McGee. All three of them are featured in two prominently failing lineups — 110 minutes with a minus-8.7, and 61 minutes with a minus-18.1. The proof is in the pudding, dearly departed.

Do other players get away with not being analyzed? No. The below table does the same as above, except only reveals the names of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Shelvin Mack and Chris Singleton in said lineups.


Lineup MIN +/-
Crawford.Jordan – Wall.John 28 12.2
Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 25 7.7
Crawford.Jordan – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 93 6.7
Crawford.Jordan – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 31 6.2
Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 26 5.6
Crawford.Jordan – Wall.John 25 -2
Crawford.Jordan – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 107 -4.5
Crawford.Jordan – Wall.John 78 -4.9
Wall.John 63 -8.3
Wall.John 110 -8.7
Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 201 -9.8
Crawford.Jordan – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 25 -9.8
Crawford.Jordan – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 109 -16.8
Crawford.Jordan – Mack.Shelvin – Singleton.Chris 25 -17.6
Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 61 -18.1
Crawford.Jordan – Wall.John 37 -24.9
Wall.John 43 -26.7
Crawford.Jordan -  Wall.John 41 -38.4

The distribution of these players amongst lineups good and bad is more even, indicating, to me at least, that they are not necessarily part of the problem. They can just as easily be part of good Wizards basketball as they can with bad, it just depends on their influencing surroundings.

OK, so let’s do the same thing with the young Wizards bigs — Trevor Booker, Kevin Serpahin and Jan Vesely.


Lineup MIN +/- 
Vesely.Jan 28 12.2
Booker.Trevor – Seraphin.Kevin 25 7.7
Booker.Trevor 93 6.7
Seraphin.Kevin 31 6.2
26 5.6
Seraphin.Kevin – Vesely.Jan 25 -2
Booker.Trevor – Seraphin.Kevin 107 -4.5
Booker.Trevor 78 -4.9
Vesely.Jan 63 -8.3
110 -8.7
Booker.Trevor 201 -9.8
25 -9.8
Booker.Trevor 109 -16.8
Seraphin.Kevin 25 -17.6
61 -18.1
37 -24.9
Booker.Trevor 43 -26.7
41 -38.4

Clearly these young pups have been less involved in the truly horrendous five-man units, and more involved in the decent to understandably bad five-man units.

Finally, let’s look at all of the names in their entirety for the Wizards’ top 18 lineups in minutes with corresponding plus/minus per 48 minutes.

Lineup MIN +/-
Crawford.Jordan – Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Vesely.Jan – Wall.John 28 12.2
Booker.Trevor – Seraphin.Kevin – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John – Young.Nick 25 7.7
Booker.Trevor – Crawford.Jordan – Hilario.Nene – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 93 6.7
Crawford.Jordan – Hilario.Nene – Seraphin.Kevin – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 31 6.2
Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John – Young.Nick 26 5.6
Crawford.Jordan – Lewis.Rashard – Seraphin.Kevin – Vesely.Jan – Wall.John 25 -2
Booker.Trevor – Crawford.Jordan – Seraphin.Kevin – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 107 -4.5
Booker.Trevor – Crawford.Jordan – McGee.JaVale – Wall.John – Young.Nick 78 -4.9
Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Vesely.Jan – Wall.John – Young.Nick 63 -8.3
Blatche.Andray – Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Wall.John – Young.Nick 110 -8.7
Booker.Trevor – McGee.JaVale – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John – Young.Nick 201 -9.8
Blatche.Andray – Crawford.Jordan – McGee.JaVale – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 25 -9.8
Booker.Trevor – Crawford.Jordan – McGee.JaVale – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John 109 -16.8
Crawford.Jordan – Mack.Shelvin – Seraphin.Kevin – Singleton.Chris – Vesely.Jan 25 -17.6
Blatche.Andray – McGee.JaVale – Singleton.Chris – Wall.John – Young.Nick 61 -18.1
Crawford.Jordan – Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Wall.John – Young.Nick 37 -24.9
Booker.Trevor – Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Wall.John – Young.Nick 43 -26.7
Blatche.Andray – Crawford.Jordan – Lewis.Rashard – McGee.JaVale – Wall.John 41 -38.4

Yes, these five-man units provide a telling story of this 2011-12 Wizards season. The data points to the idea that, although still young and very raw, this franchise is already seeing better days now that they’ve flushed most of the poison out of the system. But cleansing is only a minor part, the decisions (and luck) going forward will determine if Washington truly wants to be the next Oklahoma City Thunder, or if bad luck and planning will keep the stomachs of fans in a spin cycle.

[All stats in this post according to NBA.com/Stats.]



  • larry smith

    Man get your butt’ a real job. that stupid crap.

  • Robert

    I like this article. I can’t help but look at this, and wonder why Singleton and Lewis get any minutes at all. Singleton just isn’t good, and is not the Ron artest-circa-2004 defender that he was drafted as. Also, how is it that Shelvin Mack only qualifies for ONE of these (25 minutes minimum). He gets a decent amount of minutes, so this means he is not getting a consistent lineup to play with-seems like a not very good thing for a young backup point guard. The Wiz do not do a good job of defining roles for their players-starters and bench players, and I think this reflects that.

  • http://truthaboutit.net Rashad

    Amen Robert. Singleton just is not very good right now, and Lewis (when healthy) gets minutes off of the good shooting he USED to do.

  • Alex

    The Wizards seem blissfully ignorant of the fact neither Singleton nor Lewis can really shoot; how much better would this team be offensively with a 3 like Mike Dunleavy?