I would like to beat a dead horse – bear with me.

Let me briefly revisit the Jack-Calderon-Turkoglu end-of-game combination.
The final straw for me likely occurred a while back, but the “final final” straw occurred Tuesday night against the Lakers. With the game tied at 96 apiece, our infamous lineup was assembled to close out the game. Triano’s traditional defense to the media is that he likes having several ball handlers and shooters in these situations. The argument is based on the desire to protect the ball, have good ball movement and have the most effective scoring options. Our argument against is summed up best by the National Post’s Eric Koreen who simply said “too many cooks” in a tweet. So what happened in the last 5:45 minutes of the Lakers game with that lineup?

TooManyCooks

Our ball handling threesome combined for 2 costly turnovers, only 1 assist and shot 0 for 4 from beyond the arc – in almost six minutes of play. Chris Bosh made the lonely three (more than the others combined) and also had more assists than those three combined.

Statistically, it remains (well almost) the worst lineup. We just give up way too much on the defensive end as well as rebounding with this combination.

The lineup’s Defensive Rating is 126.1 (!!!) versus the team’s already brutal average of 112.5. The lineup’s defensive rebound % is 58.8%, well below the 66.4% of the average lineup. And to top it all off, the offensive rating is only a couple points better than average. Too many cooks indeed.

So who should start and who should finish?

With the embarrassing (due to lack of defensive effort) losses to Philadelphia and Sacramento, there is increased talk about shaking up the starting lineup – and why not, it cannot get much worse. Doug Smith hints that Calderon and Wright might replace Jack and DeRozan
I may be an idiot according to someone who’s opinion I have a ton of respect for, but here’s likely the best option (statistically) for the Raptors starting – given that I think (realistically) you need to have Turkoglu and Bargnani starting:

Jack, Jarrett – Wright, Antoine – Turkoglu, Hedo – Bargnani, Andrea – Bosh, Chris

Statistically there’s a lot of noise, but this lineup is slightly better than one with Calderon starting. And, at the risk of using “common sense”, Calderon seems better suited coming off the bench. He also pairs nicely with Johnson.

Before I get roasted by defending Wright (well, I still will regardless)…

Besides what the numbers tell us, I prefer Wright for one key reason: we desperately need to improve our defense at the wings. And we need to match our best wing defender on our opponent’s best wing – who, of course, always starts. He improves the team’s defensive rating and offensive rebounding rate as well. Remember how well he guarded Kobe’s two last second shots (despite the fact Kobe made one)?
And yes, his PER is terrible. While hot in January, his eFG% has dropped significantly as of late. I’ve been known to shout at the TV at his poor shot selection.

So why have him start?! I’d try it for two reasons:

  1. It balances out our weaknesses in our starting lineup – and with four scorers, we shouldn’t be desperate for offensive production from him.
  2. You challenge him back.

It seems to me like there are two main ways to handle these comments by a player:

  1. Sit his butt at the end of the bench (usually preferred)
  2. Sit down with him before the game and shove it back at him “Okay, if you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk. The intensity on defense is our biggest weakness. You can lead by example. You’re starting – back up your comments – the challenge is yours”

Inserting Wright into the starting lineup isn’t likely “the answer” but I believe it optimizes a tough situation (overall weakness at the wing). Triano should also communicate that he’s to limit his shots – and being with the offensive minded starting lineup, he won’t feel the need to force things.

Let’s be clear, none of our wings this year are standouts (Turkoglu included so far) – so how to we maximize them?

Politics and sensitivities exist – hence by view to continue to start both Turkoglu and Bargnani.
Mid-game I would want to see plenty of Calderon-Weems-DeRozan-Johnson-Bosh.
You have a balance of ball handling, athleticism, shooting, rebounding and defense.

But what about closing the game out?
This is, of course, situation dependent.
Close game or ahead:
Jack, Jarrett – Wright or Weems – Turkoglu, Hedo – Johnson, Amir – Bosh, Chris
Just enough cooks, just enough shooters, just enough defense and just enough rebounding
Bargnani should not play in this situation due to significant negative impact on rebounding and defense.

If significantly behind (and little time left):
Jack or Calderon – Belinelli, Marco – Turkoglu, Hedo – Bargnani, Andrea – Bosh, Chris

And finally – when you know you’re getting a timeout and can trade offense for defense and vice-versa:
Off: Jack or Calderon – Belinelli, Marco – Turkoglu, Hedo – Bargnani, Andrea – Bosh, Chris
Def: Jack, Jarrett – Weems, Sonny – Wright, Antoine – Johnson, Amir – Bosh, Chris

And finally, a “must read

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