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Which Remaining Team Plays Its Best Lineups the Most?

Posted by Neil Paine on May 26, 2010

At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March, Mavs owner Mark Cuban remarked that he could tell which teams used advanced stats and which didn't simply by looking at who their most frequent lineups were. For instance, some teams put out combinations where Cuban said he understood why the coaches thought it would be good for the team, but the +/- numbers showed that the team was losing badly when that group was on the floor. So one way of evaluating coaches is to look at their most frequently-used lineups and see how they match up with a list of the team's most effective lineups by either adjusted +/- or, in the absence of that, raw +/-. Here's how the remaining four coaches (Alvin Gentry, Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, & Stan Van Gundy) have been doing so far:

(Lineup data courtesy of BasketballValue.com.)

Alvin Gentry, Suns

Most frequent regular-season lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 3.66 4.22 828.95 118.42 111.38 7.04
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Lopez, Robin -2.88 5.70 453.27 115.15 110.82 4.33
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 9.85 7.96 223.60 124.55 107.90 16.65
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Collins, Jarron -2.61 11.06 129.80 105.20 111.43 -6.23
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared - Frye, Channing 10.61 12.20 92.18 117.94 102.08 15.85
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Lopez, Robin 15.11 12.68 84.67 125.00 108.24 16.76
Dragic, Goran - Hill, Grant - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared - Frye, Channing 13.32 13.42 80.93 118.18 96.77 21.41
Dragic, Goran - Richardson, Jason - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared - Frye, Channing -0.79 13.82 76.53 107.80 108.67 -0.87
Nash, Steve - Hill, Grant - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing -11.00 14.43 69.25 111.94 124.44 -12.50
Dragic, Goran - Richardson, Jason - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 1.54 15.69 62.05 131.90 126.96 4.94
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Amundson, Louis - Stoudemire, Amare -6.85 15.77 56.77 106.36 109.57 -3.20
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare -13.53 16.01 56.57 108.33 116.82 -8.49
Nash, Steve - Barbosa, Leandro - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 0.07 15.52 56.02 109.48 104.27 5.21
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare -15.88 16.30 52.58 104.72 116.96 -12.25
Nash, Steve - Barbosa, Leandro - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Lopez, Robin 9.92 16.19 51.02 136.11 122.64 13.47
Dragic, Goran - Hill, Grant - Dudley, Jared - Amundson, Louis - Frye, Channing -4.74 17.60 50.18 106.67 106.67 0.00
Nash, Steve - Dragic, Goran - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 15.02 17.83 45.47 129.89 114.29 15.60
Nash, Steve - Barbosa, Leandro - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 23.01 17.75 43.30 131.46 107.96 23.51
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Hill, Grant - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared 19.54 18.64 39.27 126.58 101.25 25.33
Dragic, Goran - Hill, Grant - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 11.68 22.75 31.15 115.79 105.77 10.02
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Clark, Earl - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared -13.76 21.92 29.07 94.92 101.79 -6.87
Dragic, Goran-Barbosa, Leandro-Dudley, Jared-Amundson, Louis-Frye, Channing -12.41 22.53 29.02 112.73 103.57 9.16
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare 1.85 23.37 27.25 114.82 109.62 5.20

Most frequent playoff lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing -0.77 3.94 116.07 119.20 114.55 4.65
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Collins, Jarron -3.75 7.85 103.78 104.23 112.17 -7.94
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 5.92 6.49 76.03 129.50 110.56 18.93
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Lopez, Robin -5.90 5.28 62.35 128.10 122.13 5.97
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Dudley, Jared - Amundson, Louis - Frye, Channing 5.82 11.83 46.55 118.75 95.18 23.57
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared - Frye, Channing 3.49 9.81 38.72 122.73 113.24 9.49
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare 6.66 11.21 34.93 152.70 119.18 33.52
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Hill, Grant - Dudley, Jared - Frye, Channing 9.62 23.50 15.02 153.85 125.93 27.92
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing -15.20 18.32 12.10 68.18 91.30 -23.12
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Hill, Grant - Amundson, Louis - Stoudemire, Amare -9.75 14.09 10.68 115.79 110.00 5.79
Dragic, Goran - Richardson, Jason - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing -11.81 14.07 10.55 131.58 138.10 -6.52
Nash, Steve - Richardson, Jason - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Lopez, Robin 8.39 11.76 9.93 131.82 133.33 -1.52
Nash, Steve - Barbosa, Leandro - Dudley, Jared - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing 14.54 16.46 7.27 100.00 83.33 16.67
Dragic, Goran-Barbosa, Leandro-Amundson, Louis-Dudley, Jared-Stoudemire, Amare -9.69 15.14 7.18 172.73 127.27 45.45
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Clark, Earl - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared -18.79 21.13 2.25 50.00 75.00 -25.00
Dragic, Goran - Barbosa, Leandro - Hill, Grant - Amundson, Louis - Dudley, Jared 14.32 18.53 1.77 133.33 100.00 33.33
Nash, Steve - Barbosa, Leandro - Hill, Grant - Stoudemire, Amare - Frye, Channing -7.66 15.83 1.60 150.00 250.00 -100.00
Dragic, Goran-Richardson, Jason-Amundson, Louis-Dudley, Jared-Frye, Channing -10.88 14.24 0.60 0.00 300.00 -300.00

Phoenix's 2 most frequently used playoff lineups have negative adjusted +/- ratings (which include the regular season and weigh the playoffs twice as much), and their Nash-Richardson-Hill-Stoudemire-Collins lineup (-3.75) has been bad, yet is their 2nd-most used lineup in the postseason. In all fairness, though, that lineup hasn't been used much since the early stages of the playoffs. Their most frequent lineups of the last 10 games are:

  • S. Nash-J. Richardson-G. Hill-A. Stoudemire-C. Frye (-0.77)
  • S. Nash-J. Richardson-G. Hill-A. Stoudemire-R. Lopez (-5.90)
  • S. Nash-J. Richardson-J. Dudley-A. Stoudemire-C. Frye (+5.92)
  • G. Dragic-L. Barbosa-J. Dudley-L. Amundson-C. Frye (+5.82)
  • S. Nash-J. Richardson-G. Hill-J. Dudley-A. Stoudemire (+6.66)

The top two are still negative, however, with #3, #4, & #5 being significantly more effective than #2. Their best lineup vs. L.A. has been Nash-Richardson-Hill-Dudley-Stoudemire, and their best APM lineup in the playoffs has been Nash-Barbosa-Dudley-Stoudemire-Frye. If they want to win a game in L.A., they should ditch the Nash-Richardson-Hill-Stoudemire-Lopez lineup and lean more on Dudley's units.

Phil Jackson, Lakers

Most frequent regular-season lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Gasol, Pau - Bynum, Andrew 9.31 4.94 649.78 116.12 102.82 13.29
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 1.63 5.92 432.25 107.95 105.17 2.77
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew 3.49 6.15 398.28 107.58 102.69 4.89
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 7.64 9.63 157.85 111.77 99.02 12.75
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew -12.52 10.83 126.80 101.67 110.74 -9.07
Fisher, Derek - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 14.63 11.29 119.18 106.09 86.96 19.13
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 2.65 11.27 108.98 101.38 95.54 5.85
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 10.25 12.18 96.23 117.28 106.84 10.44
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew 10.05 13.84 78.45 95.95 84.03 11.92
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau - Bynum, Andrew -2.77 14.23 77.22 115.72 107.55 8.18
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew 21.19 15.68 57.12 113.27 86.73 26.55
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 24.99 17.51 47.55 119.36 92.39 26.96
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew 33.91 19.17 38.70 131.65 97.33 34.31
Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 1.78 19.69 37.37 102.78 100.00 2.78
Farmar, Jordan - Vujacic, Sasha - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 4.28 19.20 37.33 110.81 103.85 6.96
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Morrison, Adam - Powell, Josh - Mbenga, DJ -5.76 19.62 35.58 104.23 101.41 2.82
Fisher, Derek - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Gasol, Pau - Bynum, Andrew -27.76 19.92 35.52 114.09 136.23 -22.15
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Mbenga, DJ 5.22 21.24 33.68 113.12 100.00 13.11
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Powell, Josh - Gasol, Pau -29.33 21.57 30.77 93.22 118.33 -25.11
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Powell, Josh - Bynum, Andrew 20.05 22.57 29.87 138.18 110.91 27.27
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Mbenga, DJ -3.32 23.04 28.50 105.88 109.26 -3.38

Most frequent playoff lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Gasol, Pau - Bynum, Andrew 2.66 4.12 208.97 115.23 109.87 5.36
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 1.15 4.62 176.12 123.53 112.28 11.25
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Walton, Luke - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew -2.09 14.12 39.45 100.00 102.99 -2.99
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew -18.99 9.55 27.07 123.40 133.33 -9.93
Fisher, Derek - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 4.17 10.23 18.88 114.29 113.51 0.77
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 9.31 13.45 18.80 110.53 112.50 -1.97
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 1.74 9.03 18.02 119.44 112.12 7.32
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 0.66 10.28 17.18 111.43 103.23 8.20
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau 20.24 10.98 16.08 134.38 68.75 65.63
Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Gasol, Pau -5.64 15.78 12.35 114.82 124.00 -9.19
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew -11.74 12.56 12.18 90.48 143.48 -53.00
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew -2.16 6.19 10.42 105.56 95.24 10.32
Farmar, Jordan - Brown, Shannon - Morrison, Adam - Powell, Josh - Mbenga, DJ -3.12 18.49 4.23 87.50 37.50 50.00
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Artest, Ron - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew 15.23 15.23 3.95 114.29 100.00 14.29
Fisher, Derek - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Odom, Lamar - Bynum, Andrew 7.24 17.96 3.73 100.00 166.67 -66.67
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Powell, Josh - Gasol, Pau -24.01 21.25 1.53 100.00 0.00 100.00
Farmar, Jordan - Bryant, Kobe - Brown, Shannon - Powell, Josh - Bynum, Andrew -8.94 22.01 1.43 0.00 175.00 -175.00

In general, the Lakers' most frequent lineups are positive. Jackson has been riding two lineups hard over the past 10 games: Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Gasol (+1.15 APM) and Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Gasol-Bynum (+2.66). He's also made almost no use of the terrible Farmar-Bryant-Brown-Odom-Bynum (-18.99) unit in recent games. But he could probably stand to give more time to Farmar-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Gasol (+20.24), his most effective per-minute lineup of the last 10 games.

Doc Rivers, Celtics
Most frequent regular-season lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick 11.31 3.70 1154.45 113.74 100.45 13.29
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Wallace, Rasheed - Perkins, Kendrick -2.76 8.96 194.55 108.01 108.40 -0.39
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed -6.40 8.98 182.20 101.98 107.71 -5.74
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick 7.31 11.38 118.38 102.68 88.99 13.69
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Daniels, Marquis - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick 1.44 12.06 107.93 113.24 102.94 10.29
Robinson, Nate - Daniels, Marquis - Finley, Michael - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed -2.81 13.75 86.33 109.33 107.84 1.49
House, Eddie - Allen, Ray - Daniels, Marquis - Williams, Shelden - Wallace, Rasheed 22.50 15.15 71.85 127.27 93.70 33.57
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Scalabrine, Brian - Perkins, Kendrick 1.32 15.20 66.55 120.66 115.45 5.21
House, Eddie - Daniels, Marquis - Pierce, Paul - Williams, Shelden - Wallace, Rasheed -23.48 16.58 57.15 100.99 119.42 -18.43
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick -6.71 16.31 56.13 101.82 99.07 2.75
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Davis, Glen - Perkins, Kendrick -38.84 17.82 47.17 90.11 127.78 -37.67
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Daniels, Marquis - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed -2.47 18.85 39.88 111.11 108.97 2.14
Rondo, Rajon - Daniels, Marquis - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick 1.17 20.34 34.32 108.57 104.62 3.96
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed 2.33 21.12 32.28 88.89 87.30 1.59
House, Eddie - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed 20.72 22.64 31.83 107.41 83.64 23.77
Rondo, Rajon - House, Eddie - Allen, Ray - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick 1.90 22.18 30.70 116.95 110.17 6.78
Rondo, Rajon - Daniels, Marquis - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed -3.24 22.62 30.28 113.21 107.14 6.06
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed -6.49 22.20 29.55 111.67 118.33 -6.67
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Daniels, Marquis - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed 28.73 21.98 28.93 129.31 88.14 41.17

Most frequent playoff lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick 6.04 3.27 270.27 108.56 103.48 5.09
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Davis, Glen 5.37 10.75 67.33 106.40 93.55 12.85
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Pierce, Paul - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed 12.98 12.82 44.53 106.49 103.66 2.83
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed -18.46 12.82 42.55 97.50 110.84 -13.34
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Davis, Glen - Perkins, Kendrick 13.15 12.16 31.40 126.23 67.80 58.43
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed -9.06 8.26 27.92 111.54 109.80 1.73
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Davis, Glen -4.72 22.65 15.40 86.67 78.57 8.10
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed -13.15 16.48 13.90 128.00 150.00 -22.00
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Finley, Michael - Davis, Glen - Wallace, Rasheed 19.59 21.24 11.70 125.00 86.96 38.04
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick -0.48 10.83 11.20 80.95 100.00 -19.05
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick -2.90 14.26 11.03 100.00 73.91 26.09
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed 17.74 18.43 9.00 118.75 56.25 62.50
Robinson, Nate - Allen, Tony - Daniels, Marquis - Williams, Shelden - Davis, Glen -3.20 20.79 6.35 92.31 83.33 8.97
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Tony - Allen, Ray - Wallace, Rasheed - Perkins, Kendrick -4.27 23.09 3.30 120.00 57.14 62.86
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Daniels, Marquis - Garnett, Kevin - Perkins, Kendrick -3.61 12.08 3.00 133.33 120.00 13.33
Rondo, Rajon - Allen, Ray - Pierce, Paul - Wallace, Rasheed - Perkins, Kendrick -8.52 9.20 1.25 0.00 0.00 0.00
Rondo, Rajon - Daniels, Marquis - Pierce, Paul - Garnett, Kevin - Wallace, Rasheed -3.03 22.84 0.83 200.00 100.00 100.00

The Celts have the potential for some truly bad lineup combinations, but Rivers apparently knows this, because his old standby of Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett-Perkins (+6.04) was one of the most oft-used (and effective) lineups in the league during the regular season. In fact, for all the talk about Celtic slippage, that unit was only slightly less dominant than it had been in 2007-08... it was just the other lineups that were largely responsible for the team's decline. Which makes the C's playoff run more explicable: Rivers has simply cut away the ineffective combinations. Some clearly still needed pruning in the playoffs -- Rondo-T.Allen-R.Allen-Davis-Wallace (-18.46) and Rondo-R.Allen-Pierce-Davis-Wallace (-13.15), for instance -- but Rivers' most frequent lineups over the past 10 games have all been positive except Rondo-R.Allen-Pierce-Garnett-Wallace (-9.06), a group that simply doesn't work well together (-6.40 in regular-season).

Stan Van Gundy, Magic
Most frequent regular-season lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 16.47 4.61 773.15 115.74 99.30 16.43
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 6.21 7.24 294.05 112.92 106.57 6.35
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -2.64 9.98 158.55 107.46 104.18 3.28
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Gortat, Marcin 10.14 10.67 126.93 118.37 102.46 15.91
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 2.63 11.34 116.92 111.52 109.01 2.51
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 8.76 11.56 106.83 109.77 101.44 8.33
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 5.13 12.34 102.23 110.64 104.92 5.72
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin 33.33 14.30 74.18 120.90 87.14 33.75
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 10.48 13.66 73.38 121.19 108.61 12.58
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Bass, Brandon - Gortat, Marcin -10.26 14.40 68.40 102.27 104.58 -2.31
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 48.38 14.94 68.33 148.87 103.13 45.75
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -14.58 14.52 67.08 103.10 111.77 -8.66
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Bass, Brandon - Howard, Dwight 24.20 15.44 65.28 129.92 100.00 29.91
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Redick, J.J. - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -5.60 15.73 64.17 104.00 112.40 -8.40
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -14.26 15.81 58.48 103.57 112.73 -9.16
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 1.77 16.16 57.25 115.18 106.67 8.51
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Bass, Brandon - Howard, Dwight -27.28 18.46 45.27 93.83 120.00 -26.17
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -19.41 18.24 44.35 84.71 98.82 -14.12
Johnson, Anthony - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 18.32 21.99 35.07 129.31 103.33 25.98
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Bass, Brandon - Gortat, Marcin 7.94 20.97 34.87 109.84 92.19 17.65
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -4.78 19.26 34.75 104.05 107.90 -3.84
Johnson, Anthony - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Anderson, Ryan - Gortat, Marcin -46.02 20.74 33.78 95.31 134.38 -39.06
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Redick, J.J. - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -10.74 20.79 33.18 106.15 112.50 -6.35
Williams, Jason - Pietrus, Mickael - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 0.60 21.09 32.00 112.90 109.38 3.53
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Bass, Brandon - Howard, Dwight 0.69 21.03 31.52 110.94 104.84 6.10
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -7.34 22.20 30.47 103.51 120.00 -16.49
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 12.54 21.76 30.40 118.64 100.00 18.64
Johnson, Anthony - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 22.89 23.29 29.00 120.76 98.15 22.61
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -21.41 22.78 27.55 98.28 123.21 -24.94
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 40.35 22.33 27.37 130.91 82.76 48.15
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Bass, Brandon - Gortat, Marcin 24.80 24.28 26.90 131.92 89.58 42.33

Most frequent playoff lineups:

Unit Adj +/- StdErr Min ORtg DRtg Net Rtg
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 10.22 3.99 179.15 117.96 101.87 16.09
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -17.36 11.35 32.75 107.27 98.21 9.06
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin 20.50 11.30 31.20 130.00 111.11 18.89
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Redick, J.J. - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -11.96 12.06 29.33 84.91 94.00 -9.09
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin 12.22 13.90 24.90 105.88 74.00 31.88
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 6.01 7.05 23.80 148.65 97.37 51.28
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 3.20 9.20 22.85 123.81 82.50 41.31
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 2.55 11.11 19.70 119.36 103.33 16.02
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -23.22 12.96 18.65 87.88 100.00 -12.12
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight -35.88 17.82 17.33 94.12 125.71 -31.60
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -14.56 14.67 15.43 110.00 96.30 13.70
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -3.99 10.52 12.83 103.57 92.59 10.98
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -21.90 19.19 12.67 104.35 105.26 -0.92
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight -36.37 18.27 12.55 66.67 118.18 -51.52
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Carter, Vince - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 49.99 21.88 10.60 113.64 29.41 84.22
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Gortat, Marcin -1.88 10.29 9.87 85.71 100.00 -14.29
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -25.09 19.09 8.95 86.67 86.67 0.00
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Pietrus, Mickael - Bass, Brandon - Gortat, Marcin -7.69 13.56 7.03 130.77 86.67 44.10
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin -33.95 21.63 5.92 108.33 91.67 16.67
Nelson, Jameer - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Howard, Dwight 3.39 20.39 3.83 83.33 85.71 -2.38
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Anderson, Ryan - Gortat, Marcin -38.47 23.09 2.93 40.00 175.00 -135.00
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Gortat, Marcin 30.75 21.85 2.68 180.00 0.00 180.00
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Redick, J.J. - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -17.06 19.83 2.25 116.67 133.33 -16.67
Williams, Jason - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight 2.17 13.86 1.57 66.67 75.00 -8.33
Nelson, Jameer - Redick, J.J. - Barnes, Matt - Bass, Brandon - Howard, Dwight -40.71 18.91 0.50 0.00 300.00 -300.00
Williams, Jason - Carter, Vince - Pietrus, Mickael - Bass, Brandon - Howard, Dwight 1.50 21.46 0.37 200.00 0.00 200.00
Williams, Jason - Pietrus, Mickael - Barnes, Matt - Lewis, Rashard - Howard, Dwight -10.30 21.53 0.37 0.00 200.00 -200.00

The Magic like to play with a lot of different combinations outside of their Nelson-Carter-Barnes-Lewis-Howard (+10.22) core, but some need to fall by the wayside. Williams-Redick-Pietrus-Lewis-Howard (-17.36) has been horrible even during the Magic's 8-0 playoff start, as has Nelson-Carter-Redick-Lewis-Howard (-11.96) -- although the latter has played better in recent games, and Redick has had Orlando's best raw +/- mark vs. Boston. Boston has largely played well against the Magic starters and have even neutralized the vaunted Gortat lineups (Gortat had a +13.73 APM during the regular season), so there isn't much Van Gundy can do beyond what he's been trying so far, but he might want to swap Redick (positive +/- in every Celtics matchup except game 3) for Barnes, who's been negative in every game of the Boston series (he was even -8 in Orlando's win on Monday).

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16 Responses to “Which Remaining Team Plays Its Best Lineups the Most?”

  1. Jason J Says:

    So if Rondo-Ray-Pierce-Garnett-Perkins is great, and Rondo-Ray-Pierce-Garnett-Wallace is terrible... ... ... hmmm...

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Yeah... Sheed.

  3. P Middy Says:

    By terrible, you must mean Sheedtastic.

  4. Adam Says:

    Sheed!

  5. mookie Says:

    Most interesting thing I've read all week.

  6. Mike in Denton Says:

    Yeah, BUT... these numbers can't tell you how a certain lineup will do against a particular opposing lineup. For example, maybe a certain lineup has a great net rating because the players on that lineup only play against the scrubs of the other team, and they do really well. So you decide, "heck, I'm playing my bench against the other guys' starters because of their net rating!" Then your guys get creamed and you wonder what happened.

    Matchups still matter. Even though Shaq is a liability and his lineups for Cleveland in the playoffs would probably score poorly on this scale, did you see him in the Chicago series draw three consecutive fouls on the undersized Miller and Noah without even taking a shot? That's a matchup problem.

    The strategy of the coaches' to play who they play against other teams' lineups is the X-factor which limits the value of these statistics. I think they are still interesting, but not to be taken without a lump of salt.

  7. Neil Paine Says:

    Adjusted lineup +/- takes into account the strength of the opposing lineup (i.e., whether it's starters or bench players), so that criticism isn't really valid. But I agree that specific matchups matter, just not as much as most people think.

  8. Mike in Denton Says:

    I don't want to misunderstand you, but I think the criticism is still valid. The source material (BasketballValue.com and Rosenbaum's article) describes the approach as using regression to statistically simulate how the player did against the competition they played against with the teammates they played with. So it's using tracked statistical information as its source data. While the adjusted plus/minus is definitely (in my opinion) better than raw plus/minus, I wouldn't say it definitively "takes into account the strength of the opposing lineup", although it does do a better job than other attempts I've seen used.

    So to just throw out a wild example, suppose Phoenix' hypothetical D lineup has never played against the Lakers' hypothetical B lineup. Then there is no data involving this particular matchup in the results. The data is being simulated through estimations. How well do statistical simulations emulate real world examples? To my knowledge nobody has yet found the means to ensure a good fit a priori -- we say it's good if the results are close, and say we messed up if they are way off.

    Maybe a better way to describe the adjusted plus/minus would be to say that it "adjusts for level of competition and level of teammates". How well does it do that? I'd be interested to see a comparison of the Laker bench lineups vs. the Sun bench lineups in the first two games of the playoffs and the regular season. According to my cursory inspection of the stat tables, the Suns bench should have killed the Laker bench, but the opposite happened in the first two games. Then, it seems to have flipped in the last two series as the Suns' bench killed the Laker bench. And it seems like the differences have been by wide margin, not just a little bit.

    I think the best way to use these stats would be to compare lineups within a team, assuming the coaches are taking into account the matchups, to find out which groups are doing well and which ones were not, just in case the coaching staff was having delusions regarding certain lineups.

    We're probably on the same page though regarding specific matchups. I'm just trying to warn against playing certain lineups just for the net rating regardless of the competition, and you're trying to steer me away from disregarding them completely. I do believe this data says something, I'm just not exactly sure what yet. :)

  9. AHL Says:

    I don't think I like your assessment of the Suns using Grant Hill + Jared Dudley against the Lakers. That defensive combo worked great against other teams, but because of the size of Odom/Gasol/Bynum, it's tough enough just having one of those guys out there. One guy was always getting wasted guarding Artest or something unnecessarily.

    In fact, in Game 4's zone extravaganza, those two were never on the floor together. Same (minus garbage time) with Game 3's win. I think the Last 10 Games link you posted only had the San Antonio and Portland series data skewing the results, because aside from some garbage time in Game 2 that combo hasn't really proved anything against the Lakers this postseason. More important is having two of Amare/Lopez/Frye/Amundson on the floor at all times.

    (this post brought to you with the use of http://www.popcornmachine.net/).

  10. Neil Paine Says:

    There is a significant standard error attached to certain lineups if the sample on which the regression was run was not large, that's for certain. So a low-minute lineup will have a larger range of possible "true" skill levels than a high-minute lineup; we're more confident about the true ability of the Celtics starting 5 than the Suns' bench, for instance.

    But I think you may be misinterpreting what I mean when I say it takes into account the opposing lineup strength -- I mean that the raw net +/- of a lineup is autmomatically adjusted based on the opposing lineup during each of its "shifts", so a lineup that faced nothing but bench players would not have an APM as good as its net +/- would have you believe. In other words, the level of competition adjustment is built into the regression.

    Even if two lineups have never faced, we can predict their performance against each other based on how they've each performed vs. common opponents -- it's essentially like those college football rating systems that determine the relative strengths of Alabama and USC even though they've never faced each other, because they have common opponents, or their opponents have common opponents, etc. Every unit is connected to every other unit somehow; the units that are more well-connected have smaller standard errors because we're more confident about their "true" skill level.

  11. Mike in Denton Says:

    Thanks, Neil. Has anyone actually done that kind of prediction yet? I mean, take two lineups that have never faced (or even have faced), predict what the results will be beforehand, then analyzed the results? I'm not seeing anything like that in the articles linked, but I haven't looked exhaustively.

  12. Neil Paine Says:

    Joe Sill actually presented a paper on the topic at the MIT Conference a few months ago, where he made some big breakthroughs to out-of-sample predictive validity by regularizing APM via a technique called ridge regression. Here's his site:

    http://www.hoopnumbers.com/allAnalysisView?analysis=RAPM&discussion=True

  13. Neil Paine Says:

    Here's the paper:

    http://sloansportsconference.com/uploadfiles/pdf/joeSillSloanSportsPaperWithLogo.pdf

  14. Mike in Denton Says:

    Interesting. I see that Joe's R-squared result from his test was around 16% which almost doubles those of standard linear regression, and is worthy of publication. Still, the results seem to indicate there are a lot of unaccounted-for factors that contribute to the performance, would you agree?

    I guess I'm still of the mindset that while these stats are definitely interesting, their best use is not to determine what lineup should be played regardless of the opposing lineup. I think the matchups plays a bigger part than what is showing up in the stat tables.

  15. Neil Paine Says:

    Well, that would be true if the APM metric was perfectly capturing true skill and you still had a low r-squared value. As it stands now, that value is not only saying "you can't predict future results from +/- alone", but also "+/- is not capturing true skill enough right now". The error bars on individual +/- scores are very large -- we can only say with 68% confidence that Dwight Howard is making the Magic better by between 9 and 25 points per 100 possessions. So Howard could conceivably be the best player ever, or the 5th best center in the league. And he's a high-minute player... imagine the ranges on bench players!

    However, this discussion isn't really relevant to lineups, because 5-man units have a much lower standard error in their +/- estimates. Joe Sill's work was with predicting out of sample 5-man performance from individual +/- ratings, but the 5-man scores I listed above derive from data on that lineup as a unit, indivisible into smaller parts. Which is why right now, you can say with a lot more confidence that "Lineup X is better than Lineup Y" than "Player X is better than Player Y" using +/-.

  16. Joseph Says:

    This is very interesting. I was very interested in the Suns bench because of their performance this season. This shouldn't be surprising since many of the commentators were branding the bench as the best in the league, saying, "they've outperformed the starters plenty of times" on numerous occasions.

    I do think the opposing lineup matters. While the Phoenix bench may be better than the starters, at times, I don't think many benches in the NBA are ever better than the Suns. If the Suns bench is playing a weak bench, they're going to blow them away.

    It'll be interesting to see if we see Dragic and Nash on the floor at the same time more often next season.

    By the way, love the site and the work you've put into i.