Small ball basketball is getting more and more popular nowadays, with most teams trying to push up-tempo, get way more possessions and put just shooters into the game to allow more space to run and gun.
With all teams trying to go small right now, old school centers are getting kind of obsolete, with stretch four players constantly racking up minutes at the 5 surrounded by smaller players, usually featuring 2 or 3 point guards in the lineup.
Obviously, some teams make this work out better than others due to their personnel, and that’s why today we’re going to let you know what we believe are the 6 best small ball lineup in the NBA nowadays (when all players are healthy).
6. Philadelphia 76ers: TJ McConnell, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Ben Simmons
Obviously, it’s a huge bummer not to watch Joel Embiid here, but we still believe this small ball lineup has a major chance at success, although it would mean that Ben Simmons would play off the ball while TJ McConnell feeds him with his constant cuts to the basket.
Shooting would be guaranteed with this lineup with Redick and Covington, while Dario Saric’s versatility as the X Factor can be a major concern for opposing defenses. Of course, it’s going to take some time to adjust, but Simmons length and strength make him suited to play all 5 roster spots, including the 5.
5. Houston Rockets: Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson
This is most likely going to be the lineup that closes out games when Chris Paul returns from his injuries, as Mike D’Antoni hasn’t hesitated to send standout center Clint Capela to the bottom of the bench when he’s trying to build on huge leads.
Featuring 5 deadly shooters from beyond the arc, the Rockets would be perfectly suited for D’Antoni’s 7 second offense, pushing up-tempo and just shooting their way out of holes, being one of the fastest teams in the league.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Carmelo Anthony
We’ve got some doubts about this lineup’s chances, considering both Roberson and Grant are huge non factors in the offensive end of the floor. Still, their defensive skillsets would make up for George’s and Melo’s flaws, while freeing some defensive duties of Russell Westbrook as well.
We’ve all seen the kind of firepower the Thunder currently has with their All-Star trio, and they should definitely give this lineup a shot. If not, Raymond Felton could shift into this unit with Grant going back to the bench, to play some 2 point guard sets and let Westbrook play off the ball.
3. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gay
This lineup is extremely scary just to think about, and if they manage to click well altogether, could be as deadly as the best teams we’ve seen in the world. Parker isn’t much of a shooter, but he’s one of the best playmakers and smartest players in the history of the league, and he’s a master of setting the table.
All other 4 players have the kind of skillset to be deadly scorers, while Green, Leonard and Gay are very good defenders. Anderson is a very committed guy in both ends of the floor and has proven to be an effective rebounder this season.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, LeBron James
Isaiah Thomas’ comeback can’t come soon enough, especially considering these lineup could be lethal. With Rose handling the team’s offense and Thomas playing as the 2 guard with Wade on the small forward position, the Cavs could have some of the most balanced offenses in the entire league with this lineup.
Besides, Wade and James locking up opposing wings while Love provides them with some sharp shooting from beyond the arc, this lineup might as well be the Warriors’ kryptonite they’ve struggled so much to find so far. This is the real small ball lineup and maybe we will see this combination in the NBA Playoffs when Cavs need to use LeBron James on the center position because he can defend players like Draymond Green or Kevin Durant.
I have to ask what if... Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose played together when they were in the primes, but maybe this small lineup will help Cleveland Cavaliers against the best team in this league - Golden State Warriors.
1. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant
And obviously, the best small ball lineup in the league is the already proven “death lineup”, an unstoppable combination of firepower, defense, high basketball IQ and three of the best shooters in the history of the league.
Everybody in this lineup is more than capable of running the team’s offense, while all of them except for Dray can create their own offense. Besides, all of them except for Curry are top tier defenders, so there’s absolutely no flaw or liability in this lineup whatsoever.
I can't wait to watch NBA Finals again, and I'm very curious to see if Tyronn Lue will use Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love and LeBron James against the best small ball lineup today.