The ‘BIG’ Lineup is Intriguing?

Friday, December 16, 2011
By Jon Newberry

Larry Drew has repeatedly stated that it is still too early to say how rotations will work or how minutes will be divided up with this season’s roster. With the versatility of players like Tracy McGrady, Joe Johnson and Al Horford, he has plenty of possible combinations to consider.

One of the more intriguing options is a “BIG” lineup that features McGrady, Johnson, Vladimir Radmanovic, Horford and Jason Collins/Zaza Pachulia. McGrady has been used as a point-forward in the past and is capable of bringing the ball up the court on offense, while Johnson was often called on to guard the other team’s point guard when he played alongside Mike Bibby the last few years. With this lineup the Hawks would create some huge match-up problems for the other team’s backcourt and give Al a bigger advantage on the boards as well. Check out the sizes compared to league averages:

Hawks Big Lineup League Avg. ** Advantage
PG – McGrady 6’8″ / 225 lbs 6’2″ / 190 lbs 6 in. / 35 lbs
SG – Johnson 6’7″ / 240 lbs 6’6″ / 211 lbs 1 in. / 29 lbs
SF – Radmanovic 6’10” / 235 lbs 6’8″ / 224 lbs 2 in. / 11 lbs
PF – Horford 6’10” / 250 lbs 6’10” / 245 lbs – in. / 5 lbs
C – Collins 7’0″ / 255 lbs 6’11” / 250 lbs 1 in. / 5 lbs

(Note: I know Joe is listed at 6’7″, but he plays a lot bigger than that at the 2. Other SG’s around the league may be similar in height, but they are not built like Joe… think Rudy Gay and/or Brandon Roy.)

Joe and T-Mac are able to draw double-teams with standard match-ups, but they will be immediate if they have 4-6 inches and/or 20-30 pounds on their defender. That means open looks for Horford (who was deadly from 15-18 feet for much of last season) and Radmanovich (who has made a living at the 3-point line).

There is no guarantee that LD will ever use this lineup, but it would be interesting to give it a try in one of the preseason games against the Bobcats.

The other end of the spectrum is probably one that you will see somewhat often this season. Let’s call it the “QUICK” lineup.

The core of the Hawks’ lineup this year, on paper, seems built to run. Coach Drew has acknowledged that he is encouraging players to push the ball more that Jeff Teague is the starting point guard. With the traditional starting lineup with Al at center and Josh at power forward, the Hawks sacrifice size but gain a big advantage with speed. Horford can outrun any big man in the league and Smoove is faster and more athletic than nearly every 4. Tweak the lineup a little bit to sub in the speedy Pape Sy for Marvin Williams and the Hawks resemble the Phoenix Suns from ’04-’05 when they averaged over 110 ppg.

Like I said before, LD has options. Look for the tinkering of the rotation to continue into the season since the preseason schedule only includes two games this year.

** – The league averages were pulled from The Bassline Spin‘s numbers from last season. They used the starting lineups from April 8, 2011, (24 of 30 teams were in action) to come up with their averages. It is not the most scientific or exact, but it will suffice for the purpose of this posting.

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