Looking at next year’s lineups

Now that know who from this past year will or will not be a part of next year’s team, we can start to look ahead at potential lineups. It still seems a bit early, but whatever. What struck me as I went through these is this: Calipari has, unlike this past year, options. Lots of them. He won’t be forced to use a rotation of six, with limited (and sometimes non-existent) flexibility. The most options comes in the 2/3/4 spots, as Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague seem to be locked in place for various reasons. On my part, I’m not trying to forecast what the lineup actually WILL be. A whole summer separates us from that, and it will largely depend on who looks the best — and who works the best with everyone else — come November.

Some of these lineups create matchup problems across the board. Some are simply intriguing based on the blend of skill sets. Some seem impossible to stop. All contain supreme talent. If you want, feel free to comment on what lineups you think are the best.

Potential starting lineup No. 1: The “Most Likely if the season started tomorrow” one
C Anthony Davis
PF Terrence Jones
SF Darius Miller
SG Doron Lamb
PG Marquis Teague

Off the bench, F Michael Gilchrist, F Kyle Wiltjer

Comments: A great mix of experience and youth, but with all five possessing talent. Well-rounded and versatile. Davis and Jones provide size, Miller showed he can play inside and outside down the stretch, Lamb can shoot the ball, and Teague at the point. Each piece seems to complement each other well.

Potential starting lineup No. 2: The “If freshmen assert their dominance over veterans” one.
C Anthony Davis
PF Terrence Jones
SF Michael Gilchrist
SG Doron Lamb
PG Marquis Teague

Off the bench: F Darius Miller, F Kyle Wiltjer

Comments: Swapping Miller out for Gilchrist seems like an relatively unlikely scenario, at least for the beginning of the year. Miller proved himself at the end of the year, at times carrying the team, and I would imagine that will carry over into the year. But it does seem odd to say that a top-5 recruit might not be starting, doesn’t it? Gilchrist would provide more defense and rebounding than Miller, and perhaps more of an offensive game in totality, but less of an outside threat and less of those intangible veteran qualities.

Potential starting lineup No. 3: The “Reprise of last year’s SuperSub” one.
C Anthony Davis
PF Terrence Jones
SF Michael Gilchrist
SG Darius Miller
PG Marquis Teague

Comments: Just as Lamb played much of the year off the bench, providing an offensive spark and causing defenses to adjust in the middle of the game to his corner-three presence, this lineup would provide the same. UK gets a ton of size/rebounding on the floor, retains Miller’s diverse offensive game, but would be lacking outside shooting with this starting five.

In-game lineup No. 1: the “Small-ish” one
F Terrence Jones
F Michael Gilchrist
F Darius Miller
G Doron Lamb
G Marquis Teague

Comments: There will no doubt be times in which Anthony Davis will not be on the floor, and when it does, this could be a possible lineup (Kyle Wiltjer also could be placed in there, knocking Miller/Lamb out). And still, UK looks just fine all the way around. While they wouldn’t have a true center out there, Jones was a capable defensive rebounder last year, and Gilchrist is touted as a rebounder.

In-game lineup No. 2: the “We’re shooting the ball, and if we’re hot, no way we score under 90″ one.
F Kyle Wiltjer
F Terrence Jones
F Darius Miller
G Doron Lamb
G Marquis Teague

Comments: Get the three-goggles out, especially if Jones improves his shot enough to where you don’t have immediate regret when he hoists a three.

In-game lineup No. 3: the “Teague is in foul trouble/needs a break” one
C Anthony Davis
F Terrence Jones
F Darius Miller
F Michael Gilchrist
G Doron Lamb

Comments: UK relied so heavily on Brandon Knight, seemingly at all times. Knight almost never took a break, and when he did, UK was just looking to play even. He didn’t rest, and he didn’t get in foul trouble. He couldn’t be removed from the game, out of necessity. Teague probably won’t be asked to do what Knight did to the same extent, but UK is still looking at possibly being thin at point guard (A Trevor Lacey commitment not withstanding). Lamb ran the point semi-effectively when he was called upon last year; he could do the same again, and it would give UK three forwards on the floor that would be matchup problems all the way around.

In-game lineup No. 4: The “Screw it, we don’t need a point guard in a game right now” one
C Anthony Davis
F Terrence Jones
F Kyle Wiltjer
F Michael Gilchrist
G Darius Miller

Comments: Similar to the one above, except nobody is really trying to pose as a point guard. Miller would theoretically be the primary ball-handler, but not really. It would be the lengthiest lineup possible. I don’t have any idea if these five would have enough ball-handling skills combined to make it work, but it looks like a fascinating possibility.

In-game lineup No. 5: The “probably worst-case scenario, but still looks quite all right” one.

F Kyle Wiltjer
F Michael Gilchrist
F Darius Miller
G Doron Lamb
G Twanny Beckham/potential recruit who I won’t name because he’s not official

Comments: I only call this the worst-case scenario just because it means Davis, Jones and Teague all are unavailable for some reason or the other. And look at the five players UK still gets to play. Not the optimal lineup, by any means, and the point guard is the obvious deficiency, but UK wouldn’t get blown out playing these five, either.

In-game lineup No. 6: The “Up 17, 47 seconds left” one
C Eloy Vargas
F Jon Hood
F Stacey Poole
G Twanny Beckham
G Jarrod Polson

Comments: In which Jarrod Polson is still probably encouraged by 24,500 to “SHOOOOOOOTT!!”

Follow Aaron on Twitter @KernelASmith

I would love to see Poole coming off the bench as the 8th player but what about trevor lacey? What about UK’s chances now? Lookin pretty good I think.

I like the analysis. My only tweak is that I think Vargas will get more run than most think. He’ll have a year to improve his game and is the only true center on the roster. I’m not suggesting he’ll start by any means, but he’ll get more important minutes than he did in ’10-’11.