What Is The Best Two-Man Lineup For The Brooklyn Nets?

It’s February 3rd and the Brooklyn Nets are 9-40. Things have not gone exactly as planned. With key players missing most of the year due to injury and others underperforming, the season has undoubtably become all about developing young players and assessing who is currently on the roster that could remain going forward. This is where the magic of analytics comes in handy.

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Thanks to the genius of @SETH1S, there is a handy tool out there that can create a wonderful visual of offensive and defensive net rating of two-man lineups. His program is the fastest and easiest way to visualize what pair of players play best together and worst together. After running the program for the Nets, the results were a little surprising.

Offensive Rating

For those that do not know, offensive rating basically translates to the number of points produced by a player per 100 possessions. So in other words, if these two players were out on the court for 100 possessions, this is how many points they would produce. There are many factors that go into getting this number, such as total possessions and individual points produced, but this is just one side to the coin that is the Net Rating.

The highest offensive ratings are Caris LeVert and Randy Foye (118.0), Brook Lopez and Anthony Bennett (118.0), Isaiah Whitehead and Randy Foye (114.0), and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert (109.0) while the lowest belong to Caris LeVert and Joe Harris (81.0), Randy Foye and Trevor Booker (85.0), and Trevor Booker and Luis Scola (88.0).

What this means is from an offensive standpoint, the Brooklyn Nets should look into playing Caris LeVert and Randy Foye together more often because they produce the highest output with 118 points. According to Basketball-Reference they have appeared in a total of 17 games together for about 152 minutes, which then converts to roughly 8.9 minutes per game. The other lineup that should be explored more from an offensive standpoint, is Whitehead and Foye. They produce 114 points and have played only 122.3 minutes together in 22 games, good for 5.5 minutes per game.

On the other hand, they should avoid pairing LeVert with Harris, and Trevor Booker is clearly not much of an offensive threat. Foye and Booker have yet to play together, while Booker and Scola have played only 108.6 minutes in 22 games together.

At the end of the day, the issue for the Nets isn’t on offense. With guys like Joe Harris, Justin Hamilton, and Spencer Dinwiddie all playing significant minutes, the Nets have not struggled scoring points. Atkinson’s offensive prowess is unquestioned, where the improvement is needed is on defense.

Defensive Rating

Much like offensive rating, defensive rating is an estimation of how many points would be allowed per 100 possessions. The basis of this number is individual defensive stop. This is basically anytime a player does anything that is reflected in the box score that ends an opponents possession such as blocks, steals, and defensive rebounds. Typically, bigs have a higher defensive rating compared to guards because of the volume of defensive rebounds they pull down in comparison.

As for the Nets, the best defensive ratings belong to Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead (102.0), Trevor Booker and Luis Scola (103.0), Joe Harris and Trevor Booker (104.0), and Isaiah Whitehead and Randy Foye (105.0). The worst ratings belong to Anthony Bennett and Trevor Booker (138.0), Luis Scola and Sean Kilpatrick (121.0) and Randy Foye and Sean Kilpatrick (118.0).

LeVert and Whitehead have played 201 minutes together in 23 games while Booker and Scola have played 108.6 minutes together. Sean Kilpatrick is clearly a defensive liability, but thankfully he hasn’t played with Foye or Scola according to Basketball-Reference.

Offensive and defensive rating are both two sides to the same coin that is Net Rating, so putting it all together we can get a complete picture of what the most balanced and effective two man lineup is for the Nets.

Net Rating

Net rating is offensive rating minus defensive rating, or in other words the point differential a player or lineup. Having a positive net rating means that you score more points than you give up, so a negative net rating means that the player or lineup gives up more points than they produce.

So that means with an overall net rating of +8.0, Randy Foye and Isaiah Whitehead are the best duo on the roster. Next best is a tie at +6.0 with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, and LeVert and Randy Foye. The worst duos are Anthony Bennett and Trevor Booker at -52.o with Foye and Booker in a distant second at -29. The third worst is Joe Harris and Caris LeVert at -28.

So, what does this all mean? It means that Randy Foye isn’t entirely a bust of a signing, Trevor Booker isn’t an offensive force, and that the pairing of Hollis-Jefferson and LeVert could lead to a lot of success going forward for Brooklyn. Net rating and analytics like this are not the end all be all, but more tools to be used in addition to all the other information available.

If you go purely on net rating, which is ill-advised, the best duo is Whitehead and Foye. But if you take everything into account, its clear that the best duo is Hollis-Jefferson and LeVert. According to Basketball-Reference, they have played a total of 289.5 minutes together in 26 games (11.13 minutes per game) so Atkinson should look to play these two as much as possible going forward.