‣ The effectiveness of a basketball team can often come down to the most effective five man lineup, as seen with the Denver Nuggets‘ win of the NBA title last season.
‣ Based on statistical indicators and data from Cleaning the Glass, the Philadelphia 76ers currently have the best five man unit in the NBA, with a net rating of +33.3.
‣ The Chicago Bulls have an interesting lineup, with their best five man unit not including Zach LaVine or Alex Caruso, but still achieving the fourth-highest net rating.
5-man lineups with the best net rating (garbage time filtered)
What stands out?
— NBA University (@NBA_University)
Basketball can be a complex game. Yet, it can also be pretty simple.
Sometimes, the outcome of a game, series, or even a season can hinge on which team can assemble the most effective five-man lineup. For example, last season, the Denver Nuggets clinched the NBA title. Their starting five, consisting of Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokic, was arguably the most balanced and complete five-man unit in the league.
So, who’s got the best five-man unit this year?
Well, to pin down a definitive answer, we’d need to dive into hours of film and statistical research. We don’t have the time for that here (you can check out our other NBA studies for that kind of analysis). Instead, we’ll rely on statistical indicators like net rating to gauge which team can put together the best five-man group.
According to the website Cleaning the Glass, which filters out garbage time from its lineup data, the team with the best five-man unit is the Philadelphia 76ers. Their top five-man group comprises Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris, Nicholas Batum, and Joel Embiid. This lineup has a net rating of +33.3 in 467 non-garbage time minutes.
And, interestingly enough (or not), the 76ers have the fourth-best record in the entire NBA, currently sitting at 18-8. For a visual representation of the top seven teams in this statistical category, check out this cool graphic created by NBA University.
Looking through the top seven, there are some expected results. Teams like the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and Los Angeles Clippers rank high in this category, given the high-end talent on their rosters. The Indiana Pacers lineup being fifth in the NBA also makes sense, given their red-hot offense (quarterbacked by Tyrese Haliburton) makes them a formidable opponent against most teams.
But the most intriguing team on that list is the Chicago Bulls. And what’s even more surprising is that their best five-man lineup doesn’t feature Zach LaVine or Alex Caruso.
Instead, their top five includes Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, and Nikola Vucevic. Granted, their lineup has the second-fewest minutes played (219 minutes) together of any of the lineups on that list, but they still have the fourth-highest net rating (+19.8).
There’s been a lot of chatter about the Bulls potentially being better off without LaVine. But Caruso not being present in their best five-man lineup is, to say the least, peculiar.
Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how these lineups evolve as the season progresses.