Small-ball lineups have taken the league by storm, and everyone has tried to adopt their own version of small-ball on their team. The best example of small-ball came from the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors. The “death” lineup was unstoppable at times last season with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. They played a lineup where everyone on the floor could shoot from deep and Draymond Green became the ideal small-ball five that every team wants. The lineup had the second best net rating in the NBA behind another Golden State lineup, and they posted an effective field goal percentage of 72.3 with this lineup on the floor, which was the best in the NBA.
Last season, many teams tried to replicate this lineup and some teams found success, but what if I told you that there could be a tall-ball revolution coming? Wait.. what is tall-ball? That is a good question; it is basically the opposite of small-ball. Tall-ball would feature five players that are basically all frontcourt players… It does sound a little crazy, but the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks should experiment with this.
Lets start with the Sixers. Currently on their roster, they have way too many big men (Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor). But, all three of them have never been healthy at the same time, until this season. The Sixers obviously selected Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft to play as a potential point forward. Dario Saric will also make his debut in the NBA this season for the Sixers, and he was impressive in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. So.. why don’t the Sixers play them all at the same time?
The obvious reason is spacing and shooting. Simmons can’t shoot yet, and Saric is not known to be a deep shooter, but I really think that you have to at least give this lineup a shot. Okafor can really score down low, Embiid can stretch the floor a little bit, Noel is an above the rim freak, and Saric should be able to add a little outside shooting while Simmons facilitates. The Sixers have to try it out and if it works, they need to rename the Wells Fargo Center to the Sam Hinkie Center (TRUST).
The next team that could experiment with this lineup is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks could throw out a very intriguing tall-ball lineup with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, John Henson, and Thon Maker (maybe). Now, that is a long/tall lineup. Giannis is great and has the potential to take the next step this season, Middleton can shoot from deep, Parker is fun, Henson is long and great on defense, and Maker is very intriguing.
The Bucks actually have some decent shooting with this lineup and the spacing makes a lot more sense than the Sixers’ lineup, but both teams are going to be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season, so why won’t they try this lineup out to see if it can help them make a push for maybe the playoffs. Both teams should try these lineups out because teams might not have an answer for these lineups because they are so athletic, long, and just downright tall.
The tall-ball revolution might be upon us.