I looked at league-wide lineup data yesterday, finding that, to no one’s surprise, several of Houston’s five-man units ranked among the best in the league. What was interesting, however, was that certain players seemed interchangeable among the top lineups. So I decided to dive in this morning on Houston’s intra-team lineup data.
For lineups with at least 100 minutes played, the Rockets’ best unit in the first half was Anderson/Ariza/Gordon/Harden/Harrell, with a net rating of +19.8 in 168 minutes. That lineup also had the team’s best offensive rating for lineups with at least 100 minutes, posting a rating of 125.8.
Their next best lineup overall, with those same parameters, was Beverley/Brewer/Dekker/Gordon/Nene, a unit that posted a +18.7 in 138 minutes. That’s a bit odd that the team’s second best unit didn’t include Harden, but I guess that bench unit really was destroying people in December.
Houston’s stingiest defensive lineup among lineups that shared 100 minutes was the unit of Beverley/Brewer/Dekker/Gordon/Nene, which had a defensive rating of 90 in 138 minutes. Odd that Ariza was not part of this unit. Even more strange is that Houston’s second best defensive unit featured Anderson/Gordon/Harden/Nene/Ariza, with a defensive rating of 94.2 in 154 minutes.
Houston’s most frequently used lineups were the three starting lineups, reflective of the Beverley and Capela injuries. Here’s how each of those lineups fared:
- Anderson/Ariza/Beverley/Capela/Harden: 334 minutes, 121.5 offensive rating, 111.8 defensive rating, +9.7 net rating
- Anderson/Ariza/Capela/Gordon/Harden: 243 minutes, 107.3 offensive rating, 100.6 defensive rating, +6.7 net rating
- Anderson/Ariza/Beverley/Harden/Harrell: 195 minutes, 107.8 offensive rating, 108.1 defensive rating, -0.3 net rating
It’s interesting to note that the Rockets were much better offensively with Beverley than with Gordon, but that the lineup including Gordon was better defensively. Most startlingly though is the drop-off from Capela to Harrell, looking at the net rating of that third group. However, if you replace Beverley with Gordon, you get Houston’s fourth most used lineup, featuring Anderson/Ariza/Gordon/Harden/Harrell, with 168 minutes, an offensive rating of 125.8, a defensive rating of 106.0, and a net rating of +19.8. That goes to suggest that aside from maybe James Harden, the output of any particular lineup is more a factor of player interactions than the replacement of any one individual player. We also see from the data the importance of Patrick Beverley. You can interchange Gordon and Beverley, and Capela and Harrell, but when you’re dropping off from Gordon to Ennis with Beverley out, you have serious problems.