Kentucky Basketball: Toughest Lineup Decisions for John Calipari in 2013-14
As it has been discussed for some time now, Kentucky basketball has a loaded roster of McDonald's All-Americans and expected first-round NBA draft picks. While there are more positives than negatives when you have a deep team of superstars, one of the cons is for John Calipari to make lineup decisions.
Luckily, Calipari has enough different scenarios to get creative with who he puts on the floor at one time; however, it will be up to Calipari to keep everyone happy on the team while still winning games.
This slideshow will take a look at the biggest lineup decisions Calipari and his staff will have to make to help lead the Wildcats to their ninth national title in the 2013-14 season.
What Happens If Andrew Harrison Is in Foul Trouble?
Andrew Harrison very well might be the best point guard in the country next year. However, despite that there will be at least one game where he is in foul trouble or simply needs a break.
The problem is there isn't a true backup point guard on Kentucky's roster. Now, Big Blue Nation, I know there will be people clamoring that Jarrod Polson is a great point guard based on his play last season and being a senior.
That being said, he simply isn't the point guard you want out there if you are the best team in the country. Per sports-reference.com, Polson's most productive year was the 2012-13 season, which saw him have a turnover percentage of 23 percent. That is simply saying based on 100 possessions, 23 of them with Polson on the floor would result in a turnover.
The other options besides Polson would be Andrew's twin brother Aaron or fellow freshman Dominique Hawkins. The problem with Aaron Harrison or Hawkins is both players are natural wing players who can bring the ball up the court if need be.
What Is the Big Man Rotation?
John Calipari has such a plethora of star interior players that he will be forced to use his creative side to come up with the rotation for the four players.
Expected to start is Julius Randle at power forward and Willie Cauley-Stein at the center spot with Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee coming off the bench. Not to mention, Alex Poythress has the possibility to move to the power forward position as well.
Don't be surprised to see Johnson be the first big man off the bench and the eventual starter at the center position. He is the more highly touted recruit over Lee and has the ability and size to bang down low in a half-court game.
Cauley-Stein's game is based off his energy and hustle. There is no doubt in my mind he is better served to come off the bench and provide that spark whenever he enters the game. He also provides a change of pace to Johnson with his speed and athleticism.
Lee comes from the same mold of Cauley-Stein, as a great shot-blocker as well as someone who can throw down thunderous dunks. I wouldn't be shocked if Lee comes off the bench the entire season and plays in spurts to provide a stronger defensive presence.
We'll touch on the next subject a little more in the next slide, but late in games expect only Randle to be on the floor with Poythress playing the power forward spot.
What Group Is the Best to Have on the Floor?
Ah, now comes the fun part of dissecting which five guys John Calipari puts together in what situation. Let's take a look at a couple of the most common situations you expect to see throughout the course of the year with a projection of what the lineup looks like in that situation.
What happens late in close games: Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Alex Poythress and Julius Randle.
If Kentucky is faced with closing out a game at the free-throw line and holding onto the ball, this is the projected lineup Calipari will put out on the floor. Moving Poythress over to the 4 spot allows another free-throw shooter to be on the floor as well as the ability for all five guys to dribble the ball up the court. The other positive side to this is defensively. All five players can switch everything and contest shots from behind the arc.
This is also the lineup I expect to see if a team tries to go small against Kentucky and run the floor.
What happens if a team goes big against Kentucky: Andrew Harrison, James Young, Alex Poythress, Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Pretty similar to the projected starting lineup, with the one difference being James Young coming in for Aaron Harrison. Young provides a little more height than Harrison and again almost every player can switch defensively. This lineup also provides an advantage offensively with Randle and Poythress being able to stretch the floor and allow Cauley-Stein to work one-on-one in the post.