We’re getting in the less than 60-minute most-used lineups territory, so take everything we say here with a grain of salt as there’s still time to see the effectiveness of those groups that include various combinations between starters and role players. The third most-used lineup of the season combines Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., Bruce Brown, KCP, and Aaron Gordon.
Surprisingly, the mix of two-way specialists and three players with high offensive productivity is not gelling well in the 51 minutes the group spent together. Offense is again the prevailing point, as this five-man lineup is scoring 124.1 points per 100 possessions.
Thus, defense is a huge issue as the Nuggets have a defensive rating of 122.7 points when Jokic, Porter, Brown, KCP, and Gordon are on the floor. With that said, the team might use this five-man group as a chance to juice its offense, but the defensive rating might have to drop in between 115 and 117 points for this lineup to be effective in the long run.
Michael’s Malone fourth most used lineup includes a rookie in Christian Braun, who has been part of the second most successful five-man combination on the defensive end. Braun plays alongside KCP, Gordon, Jokic, and Brown, a Nuggets’ group which limits their opponents to 100.9 points.
This five-player combination has been registering a little more than 120 points in offensive rating in the 45 minutes they stayed together on the court.
The next lineup has been used sparingly through the last ten games of the season, as Malone has moved to a group consisting of DeAndre Jordan, Bones Hyland, Jamal Murray, Jeff Green, and Christian Braun.
This group has only registered 30 minutes so far this season and was abysmal in defense putting up a defensive rating of 123.7 points and having a plus/minus net rating of -4.4. I would avoid grading each of the low-usage lineups that have played under 60 minutes, but it’s clear that a five-man rotation that includes Hyland, Jordan, and Murray will be less effective on the defensive end.
On the other side, we saw players like Braun and Zeke Nnaji soaking up more minutes in the last few games. So, it will be interesting to see if the Nuggets can put together a strong bench group that could keep the team afloat when the starters rest.