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With Scott Brooks hinting at changes, what are the Wizards' best lineup combinations?

With Scott Brooks hinting at changes, what are the Wizards' best lineup combinations?

It would've been unfair to expect the Wizards to win more than one game in a four-game road trip consisting of the Suns, Nuggets, Lakers and Clippers. 

Still, the way they lost, especially in Los Angeles, prompted head coach Scott Brooks to hint at lineup changes moving forward. 

As the Wizards offense continues to be outrageously efficient, their defense just hasn't been able to provide any sort of resistance against opposing offenses. 

Chase Hughes outlined a few options Brooks could consider to fix the defensive woes, so what do the stats suggest?

We're going to take a look at the three best offensive, defensive and overall five-man lineups the Wizards have this season per 100 possessions.

For reference, the Wizards' current starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Bradley Beal, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant have a 101 offensive rating, 117.9 defensive rating and a -16.9 net rating. Not great. 

Best defensive lineups (min. 20 minutes played)

1. Ish Smith/Bradley Beal/Jordan McRae/Davis Bertans/Thomas Bryant: 77.9 DEF rtg
2. Smith/Beal/McRae/Bertans/Moe Wagner: 95.2 
3. Thomas/Beal/Bonga/Hachimura/Bryant: 105.8

Chase may be on the money suggesting a return to the starting lineup for Ish Smith and playing Isaac Bonga more minutes.

Smith isn't exactly a defensive ace, but he's consistently been better than Thomas on that end of the floor. If Thomas is relegated to the second unit where he can be the primary ball-handler with Bertans and Wagner spacing the floor, he could see an uptick in his scoring and efficiency. 

But what if fielding a good defense is impossible for this Wizards team? What if the best defense for them is an even better offense? Here's a look at three five-man combinations that get the most buckets. 

Best offensive lineups

1. Smith/Beal/McRae/Bertans/Bryant: 130.4 OFF rtg
2. Smith/Beal/McRae/Bertans/Wagner: 127.3
3. Thomas/Beal/Bertans/Hachimura/Bryant: 127

The common theme here? Smith, Beal and Bertans. Whatever changes Brooks plans to make moving forward, more minutes for Smith and Bertans figure to be first in line. 

Everyone wants balance though. If you can find a lineup that gives you both great offense and defense, you want to try and give that group as much time as humanly possible. 

So here's a look at the three lineups that have the best net rating on the team. That calculation is done by simply subtracting your defensive rating from your offensive rating. 

Best lineups

1. Smith/Beal/McRae/Bertans/Bryant: 52.8 NET rtg
2. Smith/Beal/McRae/Bertans/Wagner: 32.1 
3. Thomas/Beal/Bonga/Bertans/Wagner: 11.1

The Smith-Beal-McRae-Bertans-Bryant combo owns the Wizards' best offense and defense, so it's only natural for them to hold the top spot here.

Brooks may not make three changes to the starting lineup at once, especially since Hachimura is starting to show more promise in his starting role. But playing Bertans and Smith more with Beal is statistically their best option. 

If Brooks makes changes and the defense is still putrid, it may be time to make some roster changes. The NBA's recently signed restriction for this past summer's free agents ends on December 15, so there's a good chance we know by then which teams are in the market to make a trade. 

If there's an offensively starved team with an abundance of defenders -- Magic, Thunder -- the Wizards would be a natural trade partner. Whether they want to make any upgrades during a rebuilding year remains to be seen, but it's an option given the imbalance offensively and defensively with this roster. 


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Moe Wagner exits Wizards-Lakers with twisted ankle

Moe Wagner exits Wizards-Lakers with twisted ankle

As the Lakers' blowout of the Wizards crawled to a close Friday night, Moe Wagner suffered a lower leg injury that forced him to immediately head to the locker room. 

After the game, Scott Brooks told reported Wagner had a twisted ankle, though he did not know how serious an injury it was yet. 

Wagner has been a pleasant surprise for the Wizards this season. After he was acquired from the Lakers for basically nothing, he's averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on 64 percent shooting from the floor and 47.5 percent from three. 

If he misses extended time with this injury, the Brooks may be forced to go with some smaller lineups given Thomas Bryant would be the only healthy center left. Ian Mahinmi hasn't played yet this season as he recovers from an Achilles strain. 

Bryant would figure to remain the starter, but after that, Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura may have to play up a position from time to time. 

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.


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Scott Brooks hilariously looking forward to the Wizards acquiring another end-of-bench Lakers player

Scott Brooks hilariously looking forward to the Wizards acquiring another end-of-bench Lakers player

The Wizards have made a habit of acquiring cast-off players from the Lakers. 

Thomas Bryant was picked up after the Lakers interestingly decided to waive the young big man before the 2018 free agent period.

Then, after the Lakers agreed to the Anthony Davis trade and were trying to clear cap space to fill out the roster, they traded Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga to the Wizards for practically nothing. 

Naturally, Scott Brooks is looking at LA's current group to see who's next in line to get shipped to DC. 

“I’ve been looking at the end of Lakers bench," Brooks said to Candace Buckner. "I’m sure we’ll be getting a couple of them next year.”

Brooks is clearly joking here, but if the Lakers ever need to offload young players to clear more cap space, it'd be difficult for the Wizards to ignore it.

They've gotten two promising young bigs that continue to improve every game and Brooks has expressed hope in Bonga figuring things out once he gets better acclimated to the league. Not only that, but they've gotten all of them for almost nothing in return. 

John Wall and Bradley Beal's salaries won't give the Wizards much flexibility when it comes to free-agent spending. The best way to build their young core is through the draft and with savvy moves like the Wagner trade. 

In the meantime, Brooks and Tommy Sheppard can scout the Lakers' reserves Friday night.