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Kentucky’s Best Lineup After 18 Games

After pondering over Kentucky’s loss last night, I was checking into the statistics that would help me verify what Kentucky’s best in-game lineup would be. Not who put up the most points per individual, not necessarily even the best five players, but the 5 players that as a collective group can be the most efficient and give Kentucky the best chance to be successful.

We have 18 games of numbers to work with, so to me, this is a big enough sample size to develop an opinion from. Here’s what I’ve gathered.

The five of: DJ Wagner, Rob Dillingham, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, and Tre Mitchell currently lead Kentucky for the most points scored by a lineup scoring 134 points through 64 minutes together. That five checks out to be the second most played lineup, averaging the most points. So, if you want statistically the highest scoring lineup, there’s who you go with.

There is also another lineup that checks out to be the most efficient lineup, leading Kentucky in the +/- category by far with a +59.26 across 31 minutes. Those 5 are DJ Wagner, Reed Sheppard, Dillingham, Justin Edwards, and Tre Mitchell. The next closest to that is a lineup that comes in at a +35.32, so clearly a big gap. And the one mentioned in the paragraph above for the most points scored, that one is a -3.63 while in.

The starting five I personally think would best fit us long term is the crew of DJ Wagner, Reed Sheppard, Antonio Reeves, Tre Mitchell, and Aaron Bradshaw, but that’s just my personal opinon. I thought about Rob Dillingham being in Reed’s spot, but I think if you keep Reed in and Rob being the first one off the bench it helps balance out your scorers while not putting as much pressure on Rob, while also not having the majority of the scorers being all in at once. I think Rob is the first guy off the bench and should come in very quickly to either give a breather, a boost of scoring, or just come in for Reeves/Sheppard if they aren’t producing from the jump. I believe John Calipari needs to milk the ability that Rob Dillingham provides which is a quick scoring boost off the bench for a few minutes at a time at different points of the game. Bring him in for a quick 6-0 run and hope you can get that 2-3 times a game. Now if he comes in and goes nuclear, you leave him in until he misses two in a row and then take him immediately back out. When he’s hot, there’s not stopping him. But I feel like his fuse burns out quick so seeing him in quick substitutions patterns will help the team overall.

Through 18 games, I’ve finally fallen off of the Justin Edwards starting and more importantly playing 30+ minutes a game. He’s struggled from day one and I just don’t think he is currently worthy of those minutes when other guys produce more than he has. Against South Carolina, he was in for 23 minutes and took only 1 shot, totaling two points. There are many games this season that look just like that. I understand why the Head Coach keeps going with him, that’s his guy, he’s likely doing it for the best interest of the kid, I get it. But, trying to avoid the narrative (for Justin) of “top-five projected pick comes to Kentucky and returns for a second season” is honestly hurting the team more than it is helping Justin. He’s also being left out there and producing very minimal, which I think hurts him as well. It’s showing the next level that you aren’t producing with plenty of minutes to prove it. I just think the staff needs to figure out a better solution for his rotation and see how it can benefit the kid and the team at the same time.

What are your thoughts on the five who should play the most? Leave it in the comment section of this post and let me know!

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