11/15/10 - Pacers' Stat of the Week: Plus/Minus with 5-Man Units

Welcome to the newest installment of our weekly feature here at IndyCornrows, Stat of the Week. This feature, posted each Monday, focuses in on one statistic or number to recap and tell the story of the Pacers' performance for the previous week.

The Pacers' rebounded from their two losses last week to go 2-1, pushing their overall record to 4-4. The highlight of the week was the Pacers' 3rd quarter performance on Tuesday against Denver, where they made 20 of 21 from the field on their way to a 54 point quarter. On Friday the team couldn't execute down the stretch losing a tough game to Houston, before grabbing a road win in Cleveland on Saturday.

Last week we looked at the individual Plus/Minus numbers for each of the Pacers. Today I'd like to focus in on another permutation of this statistic available at BasketballValue.com, the Plus/Minus numbers for the team sorted by 5-man units. Basketball Value provides the same Plus/Minus statistics that it provides for individual players for 5-man lineups as well. Just as a reminder Basketball Value's numbers are calculated from the difference between Offensive and Defensive ratings, not raw points scored and allowed.

The Pacers have used 74 different 5-man lineups so far this season. Below I have highlighted a few of the noteworthy lineups and provided their Offensive and Defensive Ratings, Point Differential and Minute Percentage. I calculated the Minute Percentage by dividing the number of minutes that lineup had played by the total number of minutes played by the team so far.

1. PG - Collison  SG - Dunleavy  SF - Granger  PF - McRoberts  C - Hibbert
    Offensive Rating: 118.78    Defensive Rating: 102.78    Differential: +16.00    Minute%: 26.9%

This is the Pacers' starting lineup and the way they have performed so far has been very impressive. They are scoring a terrific 118.78 points per 100 possessions. The only teams who's most played lineup (not starters, not every team has their starting lineup as the most played lineup) have a higher Offensive Rating are Dallas, Golden State, L.A. Lakers, Memphis and San Antonio. Their Defensive Rating is very solid as well. If the entire team was posting a 102.78 Defensive Rating it would be the 10th best mark in the league. This lineup has a very strong Offensive Rebound Rate of 36.4% but a less impressive Defensive Rebound Rate of only 71.2%. It's only 8 games in but it is nice to see a consistent starting lineup, and one that is playing a good percentage of the game together as a cohesive unit.

2. PG - Collison  SG - Dunleavy  SF - Granger  PF - Posey  C - Hibbert
    Offensive Rating: 106.56    Defensive Rating: 96.61    Differential: +9.95    Minute%: 7.3%

This is the Pacers' second most common lineup and is just the starters with James Posey switched in for Josh McRoberts. Posey's presence brings their Offensive Rating down quite a bit but improves their Defensive Rating significantly. This unit is still strong on the offensive glass, 29.4% ORR, and much better on the defensive glass, 79.3% DRR.

3. PG - Ford  SG - George  SF - Granger  PF - Posey  C - S. Jones
    Offensive Rating: 75.33    Defensive Rating: 112.50    Differential: -38.97    Minute%: 4.5%

Through the first part of the season this was the Pacers' most common bench alignment, although we haven't seen it as much lately. Still this is the Pacers' 3rd most played lineup and is obviously one of the least effective lineups they have. As we discussed last week, looking at the individual numbers puts most of this blame on Solomon Jones. In fact I couldn't find a single lineup that Solomon Jones had played more than 4 minutes with that had a Differential better than -10. It's nice to see that Jim O'Brien has moved away from this particular configuration and hopefully we will see less of it throughout the season.

4. PG - Collison  SG - Dunleavy  SF - Granger  PF - Hansbrough  C - Hibbert
    Offensive Rating: 114.29    Defensive Rating: 83.87   Differential: +30.41    Minute%: 4.1%

This is the 4th most common lineup for the Pacers and is just the starters with Hansbrough subbed in for McRoberts. Of the six lineups which have played at least 10 minutes together this is the team's strongest defensive unit with a terrific Defensive Rating of 83.87. I find that fact particularly interesting given the reputations of everyone except Hibbert as poor individual defenders. The team's 114.29 Offensive Rating is also extremely strong. This unit is very good on the offensive glass, with a 41.7% ORR, but not nearly as good at the other end, with a 64.7% DRR.

5. PG - Ford  SG - Dunleavy  SF - Granger  PF - Hansbrough  C - Hibbert
    Offensive Rating: 150.00    Defensive Rating: 115.00    Differential: +35.00    Minute%: 3.0%

The 5th most common lineup, this is the same as the unit above but with T.J. Ford subbed in for Darren Collison. We are only talking about 11 minutes played here, so a small sample size, but they have been unbelievably effective offensively. Part of that is their 66.7% ORR when playing together. They also have an astonishing 100% DRR. Again a small sample size, but grabbing every single available defensive rebound during 11 minutes on the floor is still impressive. It will be interesting to see how this unit plays together as the season progresses.

6. PG - Collison  SG - Dunleavy  SF - Granger  PF - Posey  C - McRoberts
    Offensive Rating: 84.21    Defensive Rating: 138.39    Differential: -54.68    Minute%: 2.9%

This is the Pacers' 6th most commonly played lineup and one we saw more frequently the past few games as Jim O'Brien tried to adjust for Solomon Jones' poor play as the back-up center. This unit has struggled offensively and defensively and has been beaten up on the defensive glass with a DRR of only 60%. While the rebound rate may just be small sample size, most of the lineups with McRoberts at center have struggled offensively and defensively. To be more specific almost every lineup without Hibbert on the floor has struggled.

7. PG - Ford  SG - Rush  SF - Granger  PF - Posey  C - Hibbert
    Offensive Rating: 111.11    Defensive Rating: 57.89    Differential: +53.22    Minute%: 2.5%

Because of his 5 games missed to suspension, this is the first lineup which features Brandon Rush. All 5 players have been playing strong individual defense this season, despite lackluster efforts in previous years, and it shows in the overall performance of the unit. This is the Pacers' strongest defensive unit of any that have played at least 4 minutes together. They are also a very respectable rebounding unit with an ORR of 37.5% and a DRR of 75.0%.

Summary:

It's hard to take away too much information from this data after only 8 games. However, we can see some trends starting to emerge and watch over the next few weeks to see if they hold up or if things begin to change. The schedule starts to get tougher for the Pacers' with games against Atlanta and Orlando sandwiched around a home game against the Clippers this week. With Rush back the Pacers have more lineup flexibility. Finding those combinations that work and sticking with them is going to be even more important. As the opponents get better there is going to be less room for experimenting with different units, consistency will be paramount to success.

Rebound Percentage Update:

In the first installment of Stat of the Week we discussed Rebound Percentage and identified it as a season long focus, and bellwether statistic for the team. The team's percentages 5 games into the season look like this:

Offensive Rebound Percentage: 23.97% (25th in the NBA)

Defensive Rebound Percentage: 74.92% (9th in the NBA)

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