Coach Scott Brooks made it known on Tuesday that he is considering the possibility of mixing in some of his starters to play with the bench:
After practice today, #Wizards coach Scott Brooks said team might have to experiment with "mixing and matching" starters to play w/ 2nd unit— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) November 1, 2016
More than just having a scorer on the 2nd unit, Brooks said bench players "did not respond defensively" after missed shots vs MEM.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) November 1, 2016
The all-bench lineup of Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Nicholson, and Jason Smith, has played 10 minutes together this season, more than any other five-man unit besides the starting lineup. As a unit, they have a Net Rating of -39.1, which ranks as the worst five man rotation used by Coach Brooks that has been given at least five minutes of playing time together. The starters are posting a Net Rating is -10.8, which isn’t good either, but it is still noticeably better than the all-bench unit thus far.
Brooks pointed out the team’s defensive issues in his comments, but the issues with the second unit extend to both ends of the floor. The all-bench unit is only shooting 35 percent from the field and they’re allowing opponents to shoot 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from three.
To illustrate the ineffectiveness of this unit, consider how they’ve affected the momentum of both games so far. In the season opener against Atlanta, the all-bench unit started the second quarter down only two points to the Hawks. When John Wall and Markieff Morris reentered the game at the 7:58 mark of the quarter, the Wizards were down by six. The unit also played briefly at the end of the third quarter and into the beginning of the fourth quarter. The unit turned actually turned a one point deficit into a one point lead, but started to falter before starters came back into the game, committing two turnovers on the last three possessions before Bradley Beal got on the floor. The momentum shift allowed the Hawks to take back control of the game and pull away late.
In the Memphis game, the unit played together far less. The unit came together took the floor with 59 seconds left in the first quarter, down by five points. Marcin Gortat entered the game less than two minutes into the second quarter but by then Memphis was already up 31-23. The unit shot 1-2 from the field, made a technical free throw, but also committed two turnovers, while giving up six points in a little over two minutes of play.
The most effective benches in the NBA can cut into deficits or keep scores relatively close when they’re in the game. In order for the Wizards to be a good team, their bench needs to perform better, but staggering the starters in with the bench could be a good way of mitigating some of the issues they’ve faced in the first two games. Based on the results we’ve seen so far, that’s probably the way to go moving forward. It is good that Coach Brooks recognized this fairly quickly, perhaps some adjustments will yield some better results for the team in the coming games.
Source for Stats: NBA.com/Stats