TeamSPACE: Left on the Cutting Room Floor

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Now that the #HPPreview is complete and available for your viewing pleasure, it’s time to briefly rehash a couple of things. I’d like to bring this offseason to a close with a few more TeamSPACE lineup configurations. I’ve already addressed the impending doom that is the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injury in Charlotte, but there’s also some unfinished business for a couple of other teams. Based on popular demand, here’s a handful of odd groupings of players that could stand to get just a..little…but…odder.


Here’s was my originally proposed “Most Favoritist” lineup:

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Sure, it’s not perfect, and a bit unconventional…but I like it. Given Minnesota’s historical indifference towards the 3-ball, it should not come as a surprise to see some traffic jams in the midrange. However, using this small-ball lineup de-congests things just enough. It’s hard to believe that Ricky Rubio will ever be a lights-out shooter in the mold of Steve Nash, but if he cleans up those elbows and gets rid of some of the baseline activity, he’ll be moving in the right direction. The key to using Shabazz Muhammad as the 3 in this group is the space it affords Andrew Wiggins. Shabazz is shaping into a nice set of Hunting Grounds, akin to a 3-and-D player. It gives Wiggins plenty of room to operate in the midrange. And sure, Kevin Martin may be the more logical 2-guard, but LaVine represents the future – last season he had just enough Hunting Grounds from deep to go with his highlight reel potential to make this squad work.

But the readers had other ideas. Here’s what the people asked for:

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Sure. That’s certainly more conventional when you read off the names. But when you look at the Hunting Grounds, it’s crowded…in all the wrong places. The midrange is packed – Rubio-Garnett-Wiggins-Dieng are all over each other. The 3-point line is pretty scarce. The only hope for 3-ball in a squad like this is that LaVine and Wiggins start taking (and making!) many more. It’s certainly not my favorite lineup, but I can understand the popular appeal of it. After all:

So, let’s take this one step further:

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Hmm. It’s a bit more normal, I suppose. The midrange is still mostly a hot mess of confusion, but at least there is 3-point shooting now! The tricky part is that with Kevin Martin’s 3-point shooting also comes more overlap for long 2s. Garnett and Wiggins are an odd offensive pairing, but it’s a reasonably safe assumption that KG’s scoring role will be drastically reduced going forward. Inevitably, this is why I picked the original lineup that I did. Enough scoring to get by (hopefully), and lots of room for growth.

However, there’s still one big elephant – or dare I say KAT – in the room that likely changes the Center spot; how he influences the activity of the rest of the offensive remains to be seen. So far, the results are very promising:

So, regardless of the nuance in the short-term, the long-term future seems bright. And I’d be remiss in light of Sunday night’s news to not offer my condolences to the Saunders family. RIP, Flip.


Here’s what I originally proposed:

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Similar to the Timberwolves, I really like this lineup. It’s honestly one of my favorite in the league. I can understand the hesitation, though – especially on the defensive end, there are certainly questions. But on offense, they are a Pau-Gasol-midrange-jumper’s dream. The green and red light up the 3-point line like a Christmas tree. I think it’s normal to want/hope that Snell or Mirotic are in heavy rotation this season; it may be a bit of a stretch to see them both constantly in the mix – especially together. If you consider Rose-Butler-Gasol a core (which is reasonable, but arguable), these two are great compliments.

However, given the talent and depth/redundancy, Chicago deserves a few alternative looks. By request, let’s explore a bit.

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Sure, it’s not bad. But this is exactly why I favored Snell over McBuckets; Tony gives you more from the areas the Bulls need most – the corners and top of the arc. McDermott is too similar to Mirotic unfortunately. Not to mention, he also has just enough midrange to mess with Rose and Gasol’s feng shui. And further, I’d take Snell over McDermott on defense.

But there’s more to this Bulls roster than that!

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By most accounts, Gasol and Noah were not a good fit together last season. And, it sounds as if Noah is back to full health and ready to play at the Defensive Player of Year level from season’s past. Defensively, this is undoubtedly the lineup to use: a healthy Noah and Gibson back-line with Butler guarding the best wing, yes please! I’d personally prefer a little bit more three-point shooting, but the spacing is hard to argue with: Taj Gibson is a shooter’s best friend. Butler, Rose, and Mirotic have all the room to do what they want to, with enough space for Noah to continue operating at the high post. So what’s the problem? Well, possibly two. First, does this relegate Pau to Sixth Man? That kind of scoring punch against second units seems like a much better idea than Noah coming off the bench, but is that a pill he wants to swallow? Second, Bobby Portis looks to be an absolute steal from this Summer’s Draft. He may start stealing big man minutes from Game 1. As he shows more and more Stretch 5 potential, how can you possibly keep him off the court?

Maybe the core is really Rose-Butler-Mirotic, and the remaining two pieces need to fall around those three? Sure, it’s a good problem to have – Cleveland has a similar logjam in the frontcourt – but it’s a problem nonetheless. They have 82 games before the playoffs start to figure it out.

Data and photo support provided courtesy of,, and data extraordinaire Darryl Blackport.