So yesterday we looked at a lineup full of athletes, today we'll focus on a lineup filled with offensive talent.
There Will Be Points Five:
Ryan Cline, G
Kendall Stephens, G
Dakota Mathias G
Vince Edwards, F
Caleb Swanigan, C
You could argue that this lineup is as offensively talented as any that's played at Purdue. We've had collections of great players - the Baby Boilers the most recent - but there is not much of an offensive deficiency there. This is an un-nuanced lineup - much like yesterday. This will not be a lineup that hits the court together all that often, but it sets the tone for what Purdue has the capability of being.
The foundation is there to have three shooters on our floor at all times. You can slide Hill into this lineup to add some penetration, or Rapheal Davis who's our most underrated passer. Hammons could easily play the role of center - obviously - and improve this lineups defense without giving up much on the offensive end. (He does not get enough credit for being a very crafty and efficient scorer in the post.)
And while a true freshman running the point or handing over the keys to Dakota is not ideal, there's no doubt that once this team gets into a half court set, the opposing coach is going to want to look away in horror. The idea of Swanigan getting to go one on one against someone in the post while four perimeter threats hang around hoping for an open three, is tantalizing. This is the exact personnel that pulled off Stan Van Gundy's 1-in, 4-out offense that took the Magic to the NBA finals with Dwight Howard and a bunch of relatively underwhelming role players.
The weakness is ball handling and defense, but this lineup is long enough to cause some problems. Stephens should be more consistent at the defensive end - he improved last year. The same can be said for Mathias who is now healthy and operating at 100%. Vince Edwards might be our most versatile defender, and Swanigan is legitimately long and capable of providing some rim protection.
And some rim protection, and some defense would be more than enough considering how much this lineup would score. It's an easy formula to ride. Throw the ball inside to Biggie and if they double he passes to an open perimeter guy who either shoots, drives, or whips another pass ahead of the rotation until we find the right shot, or Biggie is left alone and allowed to go to town on whatever poor sap has to deal with his size and speed down low.
Another wrinkle in this lineup, or any lineup that features Edwards at the 4 and Swanigan at the 5, a big on big pick and roll. With three shooters surrounding them, a high pick and roll with Edwards and Swanigan would be absolute death for a defense. Two big men would be forced to dance around a very wide pick, and the ensuing panic would leave either Swanigan open for a dunk or a wide open three - likely in the corner for one of our three best shooters.
It would not surprise to see this Edwards/Swanigan pick and roll a lot. Vince has already shown an ability to make the right read quickly, and Swanigan's presence cutting down the middle will provide our shooters with space they didn't have last year. It'll force defenses into all kinds of tricky dilemmas. I really don't know how you can defend that pick and roll without giving up something significant. If you bring in someone who can switch onto Edwards, you'll have a disadvantage that Swanigan can take advantage of in the post. If you sag off everything you're giving up open jumpers.
It won't be our calling card, we've got too many big men to only keep one on the floor at a time and our defense will suffer without Hammons on the floor, but it's a piece we didn't have last year.
After a year of having so many questions on where our buckets will come from, it's nice to think there might be more answers than questions this year.