Preseason basketball is back and that means we get to watch Wolves basketball again! It also means we will feast our eyes on some of the weirdest and most unique lineups that will never see the light of day in the regular season. In preseason game 1, Chris Finch & co. stuck with some generic groups for the rotation players without much experimentation. In the next few preseason games, I would love to see him experiment and get a little weird with it…
The “Guards Only” Lineup
D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley, Jordan McLaughlin, Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards
Chris Finch is on the record saying he likes the idea of having multiple ball handlers on the court at the same time. In preseason game 1, he toyed with a 3 guard lineup multiple times including keeping JMac on the court with Russell and Ant. It seemed to work pretty smoothly! Let’s take it one step too far though and go all the way by adding Beverley and Beasley to the mix. Offensively I love it. Constant movement, shooting everywhere, and just non-stop drives-and-kicks sounds exhausting for a defense. If they get a stop or force a turnover they will be lightning quick in transition. Defensively I am going to go out on a limb and say they might have a tough time. Unless Anthony Edwards is in fact the best defender in the league like he appeared to be on Monday night! Ultimately they just might never get a rebound even when they force missed shots, although rebounding is not exactly a strength for the Wolves anyway so why not give it a try?
The “2020 Draft Class” Lineup
Leandro Bolmaro, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Nathan Knight, McKinley Wright IV (We needed a 5th so we’ll include Wright from the 2021 class!)
This lineup is a little hat-tip to former president of basketball operations, Gersson Rosas whose reign ended with the unceremonious firing in late September. Say what you want about the guy, but the draft class from 2020 is looking REAL fun. We have no idea what Bolmaro can be in the NBA, but if his skills can translate to mix with his great size and intensity he should be a helpful player in the future. Obviously we all know and love the Ant and Jaden picks, then Nathan Knight is an intriguing big man who played his rookie year in Atlanta before being scooped up on a 2–way deal this offseason. This lineup shows off the versatility and raw talent that was added to the team in that draft, and offers a fun glimpse towards the not-so-distant future. Here’s to hoping we see Bolmaro, Jaden, and Ant playing important minutes together someday!
The “Just Grab a Dang Rebound!” Lineup
Patrick Beverley, Taurean Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt, Naz Reid, Karl-Anthony Towns
After the 1st preseason game as the Pelicans grabbed 19 offensive rebounds it was very clear that defensive rebounding would once again be an issue for this Wolves team. Therefore I can see Chris Finch deciding to send a message to his players by plugging in his best rebounders and dominating on the glass for a bit. Beverley has long been known as a voracious rebounder for a small guard, and just 2 years ago he averaged 7.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. Those are numbers not often attained by little guys. For reference, #futurewolf Ben Simmons averaged 7.9 rebs/36 minutes that same season at 6'10". Others in the lineup include forwards Taurean Prince and Jarred Vanderbilt. Prince has a solid build at 6'7", and though his rebounding numbers are nothing special he does bring some size and veteran savvy on the glass. Jarred Vanderbilt is an obvious inclusion because of his prodigious rebounding abilities and never-ending motor. Last season Vando grabbed 11.6 rebs/36 minutes. That energy is needed in this group. Finally Naz & KAT make an appearance because, well, they are the centers on this team so they can get in there and help to control the glass.
Side note: I actually don’t HATE this group offensively either. They have a couple of floor spacers and a couple at-rim finishers to revolve around KAT on that end. This exact lineup probably would not see regular season run, but I could see Finch going to something along these lines for a bit when they are at a significant size disadvantage. Could be interesting!
The “Battery Pack” Lineup
Jordan McLaughlin, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nathan Knight
Is this lineup any good? I doubt it. It’s relatively small, has little pure skill, and pretty poor offensive floor spacing. What this lineup DOES provide is heaps and heaps of energy. Each one of these guys boosts the energy level on the floor the second they step on the court. Whether it is JMac picking up opposing point guards at 94 feet, Patrick Beverley’s endless shit-talking, or Nathan Knight rolling down the lane for a thunderous dunk this group gets the people going. If we see a lineup like this in the regular season, something may have gone very wrong. That, or Chris Finch has decided he needs to get the collective team’s blood pumping ASAP. Either way, this group on the court together could generate enough on-court energy to power a small city. I hope we get to see it happen this preseason!
The “3’s Company” Lineup
D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jarred Vanderbilt
You know how when you play “NBA Live 2010" and use the Orlando Magic where you have Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Mickael Pietrus, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard so you decide to only shoot 3’s and just have Dwight roam around rebounding everything and setting screens? No? Just me… ok. Well I used to do that and I was incredibly successful against my friends with that strategy (my friends may not have been very good now that I think about it). I have always wanted to see it deployed in an NBA game, and the Wolves might have the lineup to try it out in the preseason.
They throw out their 4 best shooters in Russell, Beasley, Prince, and KAT with Jarred Vanderbilt mixed in as the non-stop rebounder and screen setter. Then Chris Finch being the offensive mastermind draws up plays to only shoot 3 pointers. Will this work for an extended stretch in an NBA game? No, well at least not as well as it does in a video game, but give the people what they want!