Spurs: These 5-Man Lineups Have Been the Most Effective This Season
By Josh Paredes
The San Antonio Spurs have trotted out 76 different five-man lineups this season, and the data is starting to show which ones are working the best.
With 70% of the season still to play, San Antonio is slowly starting to become more consistent and is winning some games as a result. Now 10-16, the Spurs are suddenly in striking distance of the play-in seeds in the Western Conference as they continue to establish their identity with the keys in the hands of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.
In looking at the lineups Coach Popovich has been using, several unsurprising things will jump out when analyzing what has been working best.
Before jumping into the data, though, I must note that I filtered out for lineups that hardly have seen the floor together, instead focusing on sample sizes that are a bit larger. Funny enough, though, the lineup of Bryn Forbes, Drew Eubanks, Lonnie Walker, Devin Vassell, and Tre Jones would lead the league in net rating at a whopping 145.5 in their six minutes on the floor when minutes aren't filtered.
Top 5 San Antonio Spurs Lineups: Net Rating
For net rating, I filtered for lineups that have shared the floor for at least 20 minutes total this season. Of those eight lineups, two are negative, one is at 0, and five are positive. When going purely off of this statistic, here are the top five lineups the Spurs have used this season:
50.6 - Thaddeus Young, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell (32 minutes)
19.9 - Doug McDermott, Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, Derrick White, Keita Bates-Diop (26 minutes)
14.2 - Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, Derrick White, Keita Bates-Diop, Keldon Johnson (37 minutes)
9.1 - Thaddeus Young, Doug McDermott, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson (23 minutes)
4.0 - Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson (58 minutes)
What sticks out most about these lineups is the presence of Dejounte Murray in all five of them. He's the only Spur to be in all five, but given the season he's having, it's not a huge surprise. Derrick White is in all but the top lineup, which has Lonnie Walker and Devin Vassell instead.
The top lineup that features Thaddeus Young at center is easily the biggest surprise on this list. Of lineups that have played together for at least 30 minutes, their 50.6 rating is third-best in the entire league. Those five have shared the floor at some point for seven of the team's 26 games so far. Their defensive rating of 68.6 is also second-best to a lineup by the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Top Spurs Lineup Protecting the Ball
When it comes to tallying assists over turnovers, only one Spurs' lineup is hanging with the best of the league so far. Among lineups with 30+ minutes together, this lineup is tied for the fourth-best assist-to-turnover ratio with a mark of 4.0:
Thaddeus Young, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell.
If this looks familiar, well, it should. This is the same lineup that boasts one of the best net ratings in the league.
Fastest Spurs 5-Man Lineups
Factoring out small sample size, the fastest lineup the Spurs have played includes Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell. Their pace of 110.78 is easily the quickest of all, but it has produced poor results on the court so far.
The Spurs have an poor ratings on both sides of the ball with this lineup, with an offensive rating of 95.0 and defensive rating of 126.7. On paper, this should be one of the best lineups the Spurs can offer, but the fact that they've only played 26 minutes together accounts for why these numbers look so drastic.
As for the second-fastest lineup the Spurs have showcased? You guessed it, the same lineup we've already seen twice.
It'll be interesting to see if the miracle lineup gets more time together going forward as the schedule starts to condense and San Antonio starts having more back-to-backs. The benching of Young has been the biggest factor in not seeing those five together more, but maybe that will change soon.