One of the keys to the Wizards’ success last season was the harmony of their starting lineup. It can be hard to put together a lineup where the usage is spread out evenly, but last season’s group was about as balanced as it gets.
In a perfect world, you’d want every lineup’s usage rate to total 100 percent when you combine all five starters together. That means you’ve got a lineup perfectly strung together so low-usage players aren’t asked to do too much and high-usage players aren’t butting heads with each other. Last year’s lineup was pretty close to ideal:
- John Wall - 30.6 percent
- Bradley Beal - 26.5 percent
- Markieff Morris - 20.5 percent
- Otto Porter - 15.1 percent
- Marcin Gortat - 14.1 percent
- Total - 107.4 percent
Those numbers are skewed slightly because everyone in the lineup had to take on higher usage rates when they were placed in all-bench units, especially Wall, Beal, and Morris. Still, you can see why things balanced out so well and they were able to be so effective last season.
However, there’s room for improvement in 2017-18, and more importantly, there needs to be adjustments to compensate for how players either take steps forward, or take steps back last season. Inevitably, someone is going to have to yield some shots next season if the offense is going to take a step forward, and you can make a case for why each starter should .
- John Wall - He had the lowest true shooting percentage of any of the 11 players who had a usage rate over 30 percent last season. It would be a misnomer to say Wall should pass more next season, but if he can’t improve his shooting efficiency this season, it might not be the worst thing if he took a few less shots.
- Bradley Beal - He took a huge step forward last season, but you have to be a bit worried that this is as good as it gets from an efficiency perspective. Unless he takes another step forward as a distributor, giving him more shots next season is probably just an invitation to miss more shots.
- Otto Porter - Likewise with Beal, unless Porter develops his off-the-dribble game, giving more shots might hurt the offensive flow. Furthermore, if teams choose to guard him closer this season and prevent him from getting as many catch-and-shoot opportunities, that will hurt his output.
- Markieff Morris - Morris seems like the natural candidate because his output doesn’t line up with how often he’s asked to create offense. However, you need someone who can alleviate pressure on Wall and Beal to create offense sometimes, and if Gortat or Porter can’t take a step forward, it’s hard to ask Morris to take a step back. And besides, if he can continue to improve his three point shot, it gets a lot easier for him to justify his usage rate.
- Marcin Gortat - Gortat also seems like a good candidate here. He’s the old guy and he should cede shots to the up-and-comers. At the same time, he’s still very efficient and there aren’t a lot of shots to take away. Last season, he only took 8.2 shots per game and 71 percent of the shots he made last season were assisted. It’s not like they’re running a lot of plays for him as it is.
Just like last season, most of Washington’s success will be tied to the performance of their starters. But as the dynamics shift this season, Scott Brooks will need to find a way to keep things harmonized and optimized.
Which starter should sacrifice the most shots this season?
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