A Team Without A Lineup

I post this in the fan section, though I'm no particular fan of Cleveland per se. I do however find the dynamics of team-building fascinating. And while the NBA isn't my league of choice as a casual fan (I much prefer college basketball), the Cavs' construction provides one possible glimpse into the future of the League.

Let me begin with the highly theoretical. There is only one way to ensure a win in the NBA: score more points than your opponent. I know, deep stuff. Let it stew for a minute. I'm not a hardcore fan, so this is about as good as it's going to get from me, but I digress.

I can see the bewilderment on your face as you silently contemplate (kidding!), "how do you ensure you score more points than your opponent?". Thanks for asking! You score more points than your opponent by using your possessions more efficiently than them, but you could've probably guessed that. This stuff is pretty ubiquitous, though I admit I haven't read most of the literature. I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants.

Efficient teams are those that rebound well both offensively and defensively, create turnovers while limiting their own, and take high percentage shots and get to the foul line. That's it. That's what winning basketball boils down to. Rebound well, be a plus turnover team, and take good shots and be aggressive, and I guarantee you'll be wildly successful. Unfortunately, this is one of those circumstances that sounds easy to emulate, but in practice is rarely perfected. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

I truly believe we're entering an era in the NBA in which the attainment of efficiency will become THE front-burner goal. Let me clarify - winning is always the goal, but once you set that goal, "wanting to win" essentially becomes irrelevant, and the only thing of importance is how you will achieve the goal. That "how" is efficiency.

I finally reach my point - how a team becomes highly efficient. A team maximizes its efficiency by creating exploitable mismatches against it's opponent. Be quick where they're slow, put muscle against their passiveness. That's pretty much all there is to it. I know I know, groundbreaking work is being done here.

With that said, let me pose a question: Why do healthy teams almost always stick to the same starting lineup night in and night out?

"Oh, you're playing against a dynamic backcourt tonight, you say? Lets throw out our usual starting lineup." "What's that? You gotta go up against banging bigs tomorrow? Better trot out the exact same starting lineup you played against that great backcourt you faced last night."

As you can probably tell, I believe this kind of thinking is ridiculous. There are so many different styles of play in the NBA, and no one lineup will be able to exploit each style. If you are inflexible and capable of only one style of play, it is extremely unlikely you'll be able to create mismatches on a consistent basis. Hence, you'll be inefficient. Hence, you'll score fewer points than your opponent. Hence, you'll lose (see what I did there?).

This is where I believe the Cavs can be on The Cutting Edge Of History! Okay, that was a bit much, but I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. With the selections of Bennett and Karasev, you guys continue your march to become the NBA version of Doctors Without Boarders. You are the Players Without Positions (even more so than the Heat). This is actually a good thing. Every single long-term piece on this team can play multiple positions, and can situationally play multiple positions well. That is, each player can exploit certain situational inefficiencies of the opponent at multiple positions.

You say Bennett can't play Small Forward? Start him there against the Bucks and I guarantee he goes off without becoming a defensive liability.

You're playing Washington? Better start Gee at the 3 and play small ball with Bennett at 4 and Thompson at Center. I promise this lineup would destroy the poor Wizards.

Uh oh, you gotta bang with the big boys in Memphis? You can't let them out rebound you. Why not start Verajao at Center, Thompson at the 4, and Bennett at the 3? I'm fairly certain Bennett will not have much difficulty with Prince on either end of the floor.

These situational lineups can be extrapolated to guard play as well. Irving, Waiters, and Karasev can each play multiple positions and create efficiency nightmares for inflexible opponents. Study your opponent, discover their weakness, and create a lineup that best exploits those inefficiencies. It's that simple.

If teams wanted to maximize their potential, they'd stock their roster with players that can exploit multiple situational inefficiencies of their opponents at multiple positions, and then they'd create lineups specific to the teams they face. Your lineup against the Heat would be different than your lineup against the Pacers, for example. It seems obvious, but teams rarely have the flexibility or desire to approach the issue from this angle. Thankfully for you, the Cavs have half the equation already, and it's the hard half: the flexibility.

Wouldn't it be something if the average Cav rotational player started 50 games a year? Not because they were injured or benched for poor play, but because the team took advantage of it's great flexibility to create starting lineups that were situation specific in order to exploit each opponent's weakness? You'd truly be a team without a lineup.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at FearTheSword

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