The Wizards have a trash bench. They’re also 29-20.
So, obviously the starters are doing something right.
John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are having career years. Marcin Gortat is providing his usual steady interior production. And after a rough start, Markieff Morris has played much better lately — bringing everything together.
Gortat, when asked by Chris Miller of CSN Mid-Atlantic whether the Wizards have the Eastern Conference’s best starting lineup:
I would say yes. I do truly believe that we have the best starting five in this conference. And if everybody’s healthy, everybody plays 100 percent max effort, then we definitely have the best starting lineup.
Because he was asked, Gortat was somewhat backed into a corner. What else is he supposed to say at that point?
But he also might be right.
Washington’s starters have outscored opponents by 5.7 points per 100 possessions this season, second in the East to the Cavaliers (+7.1).
But the Wizards have gone six games without starting Wall-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat due to injury. That unit is +10.9 per 100 possessions — better than the Cavaliers’ most-used lineup of Kyrie Irving–J.R. Smith–LeBron James–Kevin Love–Tristan Thompson (+9.3).
In fact, Washington’s starting lineup has the second-best net rating of each Eastern Conference’s team’s most-used lineup. Only the 76ers — T.J. McConnell–Nik Stauskas–Robert Covington–Ersan Ilyasova–Joel Embiid — have a better most-used lineup (+14.0).
However, that Philadelphia group has played just 115 minutes in 14 games. The Wizards’ primary starters have played 857 minutes together in 43 games. There’s value in availability, which is still a question mark with Embiid and anything he’s fueling.
Plus, with such a weak bench, Washington rarely has the ability to sub for matchups. The Wizards’ primary starters must handle all types of opponents, even ones that pose stylistic difficulties.
Credit the Wizards for making this a discussion, but that’s as far as I’ll go. Give me the lineup that has LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (and solid support from Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith/Iman Shumpert).