After spending most of the summer exulting over the flexibility we'd have with such a deep roster, Love decided to do some knuckle pushups against somebody's face / a brick wall / [insert conspiracy theory here] and Derrick Williams decided to try his best Jonsley Flynson impersonation. (Zgoda has yet to confirm the Internet rumor I just made up that Williams enrolled in a summer course at Syracuse this offseason, but I think that eyes-closed layup attempt gave us all the evidence we need.)
Adelman has said he will consider playing AK and Amundson at the 4 until Love returns, as well as Cunningham (and presumably Williams will sneak onto the court here and there as well). None of those options inspire much confidence. While Love provided 3-pt range, Amundson is limited to 3-ft shots. Slide AK to the 4, and Roy has to take some minutes at the 3, banging his porcelain body with bigger dudes. Oceanary gave a fine rundown of what Cunningham can do...but he remains a limited offensive player.
But enough grousing over what we've lost. (If you're in the grousing mood, the lead article over at A Wolf Among Wolves is all about how our roster without Love flat out doesn't work. We'll take a more constructive approach over here.) Let's take a look at what player combinations give us the best chance to paper over our PF deficiencies. Is our roster deep enough to continue to put out lineups with sufficient scoring, rebounding, distribution, ball handling, and defense? We'll find out below the fold.
*********(just pretend folds still exist in FanPosts, and you can't see anything below this point until you click on the title of my post.)********
Okay, welcome back.
So here's what we currently have to work with (plus a reminder of the production we're trying to replace):
A few notes:
In looking at lineup possibilities, we'd ideally want to have 3-pt shooting on the floor at all times, some semblance of a post-scoring threat, and capacity for dribble-drive penetration. Rebounding will be a weakness no matter what, but we can try to limit that deficiency by limiting AK's minutes at the 4. (I was tempted to dig up that Sloan report on ideal roster combinations, but let's forget about ideal for the moment and stick with functional.) With all that in mind, here are some of the player combinations that look promising to me:
So, add it up, and here are some lineups that I think could work for us. Again, we won't win 50 games with these guys, but our goal here should essentially be .500 ball.
#1. (Probable Starting Lineup) Ridnour-Roy-AK-Cunningham-Pek. (combined usage = 94%) The usage numbers seem reasonable. There's room there for Cunningham to get a few more touches than he's used to without dramatically changing his role. Ridnour getting back to the neighborhood of 40% from 3 would be quite nice. As far as Williams goes, I don't think he can start even if the light comes on and he starts scoring 25 PPG at Love's level of efficiency. We have to have someone able to score in the post when Pek sits. I don't see anyone on this team other than Derrick able to fill that role. I hope Adelman makes that clear, that the best way he can help the team right now is from the bench.
#2. (First Substitution) Ridnour-Roy-Bud-Cunningham-Pek. (combined usage = 95.6%) Sixth man is probably Bud, in for whichever of Roy or AK seems most fragile at the moment. We've got more options at the 2, so best guess is Bud comes in for AK all things being equal.
#3. (Second Unit) Barea-Shved-Bud-Williams-Stiemsma. (combined usage = 104.1%) Shved's usage will probably (hopefully) drop from the 28.8 he posted for CSKA, and playing next to Barea should ensure that happens. This unit provides four willing 3-pt shooters (and three capable ones), with Williams hopefully able to provide some post scoring and rebounding. Shved has already shown a knack for penetrating and kicking to Bud in the corner.
#4. (Crunch Time) Ridnour-Roy-Bud-AK-Pek. (combined usage = 99.8%) Ridnour gets the nod over Barea due to better shooting and better defense, even if Barea is probably better suited for the Pek and Roll. Iso-Roy as a fall-back isn't the worst idea in the world, with Bud and Ridnour hopefully being kick-out options pending the double team.
#5. (Worst-Case Scenario) Ridnour-Roy-Bud-AK-Amundson. (combined usage = 95.2%) If Pek misses a game or has to sit early with foul trouble, what options would we have left? Well, I'd be interested in bringing in Amundson ahead of Stiemsma, taking out Cunningham and sliding AK to the 4. Kirilenko gives you a bit more offensively than Dante, and Bud and Amundson are decent rebounders for their positions to make up for AK. The simpler option is subbing in Williams and Stiemsma for Cunningham and Pek, but that option is solely up to Derrick at this point. As I said above, I don't think a simple substitution of Stiemsma for Pek would work because then you'd need to get 75% of your touches from Ridnour, Roy, and AK, and this sentence just busted Roy's kneecap and tweaked AK's hammie.
Well, that's all I've got. As much as I'm trying to be optimistic, I honestly think the only way we salvage our season is if the lightbulb comes on for Derrick Williams before Nov 2. That would plug a hell of a lot of holes.
Your move, Lion.