All summer long, we've been waiting on John Calipari to throw out five guys onto the court that ultimately work the best with each other. Early on, we sat back and waited, while allowing him to make his adjustments to it, while seemingly none of them seemed to satisfy the fanbase, which was arguably correct. We let him do his thing and our team suffered from it, finding themselves at 10-6 through the first sixteen games.
At some point fans found their five that they collectively agreed should be the five who play the most minutes. We've gotten to see glimpses of that group out on the floor, although they have yet to start a game together. The five that fans consistently beg for include Cason Wallace, CJ Fredrick, Antonio Reeves, Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe.
Since establishing this, the five have played together through the first 19 games for a total of 56 minutes and 54 seconds, ranking as now the second most for any Kentucky lineup this season. They've scored a total of 151 points, which also ranks second to the lineup of Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Antonio Reeves, Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe, which has been playing the most all season, which is the one that fans are requesting to change, for a total of 105 minutes (and 53 seconds) and scoring 203 points.
When comparing the two, of course the leading lineup has scored more points because they've played a lot more minutes than the latter, scoring 52 more points to be exact. However, the key fact in comparing these two is the efficiency of each. The second lineup, the ones that fans have been asking for all along, has a way higher +/- on the stat sheet.
Lineup 1: Wheeler, Wallace, Reeves, Toppin, Tshiebwe: +7.18
Lineup 2: Wallace, Fredrick, Reeves, Toppin, Tshiebwe: +49.91
You can have opinions, personal preferences, or very intense debates all you want, but there's nothing that changes the fact that lineup #2, which fans have asked for for weeks now, is the best lineup that Kentucky could put out on the floor. It's no longer opinion, it's statistically a fact.
We've seen the head coach start to play this group more often in recent games, because he's likely seeing the better results just like we are. Very soon they need to become the starting five and Kentucky's core, as they finish through the conference schedule and aim for the postseason. We've seen Sahvir Wheeler's minutes be cut drastically over the last two weeks and part of that could be Cal using the better lineup. The other half could be where he's recovering from a minor injury that's been limiting his play as of late. Both of the two are valid and I believe that Sahvir should be used as a spark plug off the bench going forward, because he still brings tremendous value to this team even if that means he isn't starting games.
We know who needs to be out on the floor. I guess we'll see if it actually gets done.