Odd Lineups the Pacers Could Consider Next Season

Nate McMillan Pacers podcast
Nate McMillan

The Pacers are hopeful their motley crew of players will create cohesive lineups.

Here are two stats I bet you didn’t know about new Pacers players:

  • Cory Joseph played 41 percent of his minutes at shooting guard last season, and 2 percent at small forward.
  • The Thunder put Domantas Sabonis at Center for 16 percent of his time on the court.

This is not to say that either of these players excel more at these duties than their natural position. Joseph is a capable ball handler and can be easily trusted as a point guard, and Sabonis has proven he has enough of an inside-out game to play the 4 or 5. But these guys have both proven to be competent in other roles, and that will allow Nate McMillan to be flexible with lineups if he so chooses.

With Al Jefferson’s talent quickly dwindling and Lance Stephenson having struggled the last few seasons, the Pacers head coach may look to implore reserve lineups that avoid playing either of those veterans. Let’s take a look at a few of the options the Pacers have to avoid playing said veterans. While we are at it, we can look at a few other lineups that get the most out of everyone’s skills.

No Jefferson Bench Unit

  • Point Guard: Darren Collison/Joe Young
  • Shooting Guard: Cory Joseph
  • Small Forward:Lance Stephenson
  • Power Forward: Bojan Bogdanovic
  • Center: Domantas Sabonis

This lineup essentially substitutes Cory Joseph in for Al Jefferson on the usual bench unit. It seems like a simple sub that just decreases the teams rim protection and increases offensive firepower. But Joseph is good enough at the 2 to make up for any shortcomings that exist by losing Jefferson.

Only 58 percent of Joseph’s minutes came at point guard last season. He can play on the wing, and he can do it well. When Joseph was at shooting guard with Kyle Lowry, the Raptors had an offensive rating of 111.1 and a net rating of 4.9. To put it short, this lineup worked, and it worked well.

Due to 35.6 percent shooting from deep combined with his ball handling skills, Joseph can keep an offense moving and knock down the deep ball. In this clip, he gets Lowry the ball, then spots up and nails the three:

Insert Collison and Bogdanovic in for Lowry and Patterson, and the Pacers could have a group that gels quite nicely. This group could probably run the break well, too. Both Collison and Young have speed at the one, and nobody in this lineup is particularly slow. As soon as this group grabs a steal, watch em’ run and finish. Joseph can do that at any position, like you can see here:

Look at Cory hustle down the right and fill his lane to get the bucket from the wing. On offense, he excels on edges, and he could make this lineup click, even without a big man.

Death Lineup

The Warriors so called “death-lineup” without their starting center is fascinating. Of course, the Pacers should play Myles Turner as much as possible. When he is out of the game, though, the Pacers could look to copy something like the death lineup with their own unique style.

  • Point guard: Darren Collison
  • Shooting guard: Victor Oladipo
  • Small Forward: Glenn Robsinon III
  • Power Forward: Bojan Bogdanovic
  • Center: Thaddeus Young

Thaddeus Young?? At Center?

You bet. He has, in spurts, played at center before in his career. However, the purpose of this lineup is similar to the first group we ran through.

Get out and run fast.

Young can lead, and finish, a fast break with the best of them. He rarely turns the ball over, he has a career 10.2 turnover percentage, and his skills taking care of the ball will keep him gelling with this group. Additionally, this crew will need a rebounder because they lack size, and Young is just that. He can follow in on the break and clean up the mess that this fast lineup may create. Watch him do just that here:

If he can keep up with the offense of this group, they may be able to go on quite the tear when Myles Turner sits.

Young also ranks in the 77th percentile on spot up plays in the NBA, per NBA Math’s player play type profiles. He is great in these situations, and with three shot creators, he will be the beneficiary of these shots in this lineup.

All he has to do is find the open space when someone drives, like he does here:

This lineup will run, and this lineup will suck on defense, but damn will this lineup score. I hope McMillan uses it.

The Pacers have brought together a group of players that can fit well with one another. There is an obvious way to construct a rotation the team could use, as discussed on IndyCornrows and Locked On Pacers this week. But when things get tough and Nate McMillan needs to try some new lineups, these two groups would both work well together. Tune in this week for more lineups the Pacers could use throughout the season.