SDS Roundtable: What is the Atlanta Hawks best crunchtime lineup?

WASHINGTON, DC -  APRIL 19: Dennis Schroder
WASHINGTON, DC -  APRIL 19: Dennis Schroder /

Atlanta Hawks ball, down two points with ten seconds left in the game. Which five man lineup do you want in the game?

The “crunch time lineup” is one of the most impacting aspects of any NBA team. For the Atlanta Hawks, it is something that will have to be created by scratch. Which five Atlanta Hawks players can give the team the best chance of scoring a crucial bucket to tie or win a game?

Three of Soaring Down South’s finest took deep thought into this exact question, and provide us some deeply insightful thoughts to try and answer this question.

Seth Kindig

Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Muscala

The answer to this question is, of course, that different scenarios will call for different lineups. That being said, there have been some consistent themes from Mike Budenholzer during his tenure as Atlanta Hawks coach.

Coach Bud loves to go with shooting bigs down the stretch. Even last year, Coach Bud would often bench Dwight Howard down the stretch in favor of smaller shooting lineups (see Dwight Howard’s exit interview). Thus, I would not be surprised to see him favor Ilyasova and Muscala’s shooting over Dedmon’s defense down the stretch.

Muscala and Ilyasova only played 74 minutes together last season in 13 games. But, in those 74 minutes, the Hawks featured a +17.7 net rating and an offensive rating of 117.6. For reference, that is the highest offensive rating for any pair of Hawks players that played more than 50 minutes together last season.

So, there is some precedence for this lineup’s effectiveness on the offensive end. I would not be surprised to see players like Marco Bellinelli and even Malcolm Delaney supplant Kent Bazemore in this lineup, especially on a night when they are shooting it well. But, I feel comfortable that more often than not, Coach Bud will feature this lineup down the stretch of games.

Ross Alacqua

Down two with the ball and heading up the court for the last shot, I want as much shooting on the floor as possible. Looking at the roster for this season, I’m going with Schroder, Bazemore, Babbitt, Ilyasova and Muscala.

I’d have Schroder bring it up the floor and run this “Counter” play the Hawks ran a lot with Kyle Korver and either Paul Milsap or Al Horford.

You’ll have Babbit or Bazemore setting the “counter” screen for the Muscala/Ilyasova to step out for the jump shot, preferably behind the 3-point line. The screener will space to the opposite side of the court.

If open, they’ll take the shot. If the defense recovers, they’ll kick it back to Dennis and immediately set a ball screen and let Dennis create as the clock winds down. Ideally, a shot goes up with around 6-8 seconds left and everyone crashes the glass. Enough time for a tip-in or foul if the defense rebounds.

Ryan Akin

Crunch time lineup: Dennis Schroder, DeAndre Bembry, Taurean Prince, John Collins, Mike Muscala

I’m so serious about playing the young guys this year. I don’t care how bad of a matchup this lineup will be against other teams. The Hawks have to figure out what they have in these kids, that should be their only objective.

Giving all of our young players crunch time experience could pay big dividends down the line. Basketball wise this lineup gives you 3 guys (Schroder, Bembry, Prince) that could create their own shot by driving to the basket.

Put any of them in a pick and roll with Collins and have Muscala waiting for a kick out and I could conceivably see this lineup working in a last possession situation. But mostly it’s the young guy thing.