Misix Library

Marquette’s Season Long Position Puzzle

May 29, 2015

To follow up our last post, we thought it would be interesting to see how lineup efficiencies looked according to the number of guards (G), forwards (F) and centers (C) on the court. To do this, we used the following designations, per the team’s website. Argue with them as you will, but for the sake of our analysis, we just went along with how the school classified a player’s position.

J. AndersonSRF6-6
M. CarlinoSRG6-2
S. Cohen IIIFRF6-6
L. FischerSOC6-11
J. JohnsonSOG6-5
S. Taylor Jr.JRF6-7
De. WilsonSRG6-1
Du. WilsonRS FRG6-2

As a reminder, we define efficiency as the average points per possession (PPP) each lineup scored (offensive) and had scored against them (defensive).  In an attempt to control for the level of competition, we only incorporated Big East games. We also eliminated lineups with an inadequate number of possessions to calculate efficiency metrics.

Sticking to our well-established affinity for charts and tables, here’s how each of the efficiencies broke down by lineup composition:


Lineup Composition Efficiencies


LineupOff. PPPDef. PPPDifferencePossessions

In the chart, the size of each bubble is relative to the number of possessions each lineup played during Big East competition. The diagonal line running through each chart is where offensive and defensive efficiencies are equal. Anything to the left of the diagonal line indicates the lineup was outscored on a per possession basis, and anything to the right of the line indicates the opposite.

One of the first things we noticed from the numbers was that the lineup with three guards, one forward and one center (3G1F1C) was the most heavily used by a wide margin. Relatively speaking, it was also pretty competitive, as it was only outscored by 1.3 points for every 100 possessions it was on the court.

Another thing we noticed was that the offensive efficiencies fluctuated wildly compared with the defensive ones. While the defensive efficiencies varied from 0.984 to 1.180 (range of 0.196), the offensive ones went from 0.706 to 1.667 (range of 0.960). Accordingly, most of the variation in the net efficiency (difference) could be viewed as a result of changes in the offense’s efficiency, which tells us two things:

  1. The defense didn’t really suffer all that much having one type of lineup on the court vs. another.
  2. Marquette could benefit from emphasizing offense when deciding between lineups because of the consistency on defense.

As explored in our last post, the Luke Fischer Effect seems to be quite evident on the offensive end. In each of the three cases that included Fischer — 3G1F1C vs. 3G2F0C, 2G2F1C vs. 2G3F0C, and 4G0F1C vs. 4G1F0C — the offense greatly outperformed the one with another forward in his stead. Rocket science, we know.

This brings us to our next point: Of the lineups without Luke, the 4G1F0C lineup performed best in terms of net efficiency. In fact, the four-guard lineups were the only ones with a positive PPP differential. Despite a limited sample size, the numbers make a compelling case for using one of the four-guard lineups more frequently. So here’s another table:

MetricNon-4 Guards4 Guards
Opp PPP1.0181.011
Opp eFG%49.8%42.9%
Opp FTRate0.2530.624
Opp OReb%34.4%48.4%
Opp A/T1.3931.012
Opp AST%67.6%66.1%

As it turns out, the two four-guard lineups were solid all-around performers. Aside from the expected dip in rebounding, the opponent’s free-throw rate was the only category in which the four-guard lineup got outperformed. To lend further credence to the use of this grouping, we present the lineup-specific stats while noting that the forwards added to the four-guard set of Derrick Wilson, Matt Carlino, Duane Wilson and Jajuan Johnson were Steve Taylor Jr. and Juan Anderson.

Opp PPP0.8951.2111.000
Opp eFG%30.8%50.0%56.3%
Opp FTRate0.7370.6320.417
Opp OReb%36.4%57.1%60.0%
Opp A/T0.7502.0000.400
Opp AST%75.0%66.7%50.0%
ADe. WilsonM. CarlinoDu. WilsonJ. JohnsonS. Taylor Jr.
BDe. WilsonM. CarlinoDu. WilsonJ. JohnsonJ. Anderson
CDe. WilsonM. CarlinoDu. WilsonJ. JohnsonL. Fischer

So while we pointed out last time that Taylor Jr. seemed to be best used in his natural position, it also seems to hold water that he could have been incorporated wisely in a four-guard set.

The reason effective field-goal percentage for the four-guard lineup with Fischer is greater than 100% is that the metric weighs 3-pointers more heavily than 2-pointers, and five of the 12 possessions ended in made triples. From a practical standpoint, we understand it may have been difficult to keep all four guards on the floor at once and that these sample sizes are less than ideal, but there seems to be an array of evidence suggesting potential benefit to giving the four-guard set more time.

For those interested, the full barrage of efficiency stats and game-by-game lineup usages were as follows:

Opp PPP0.9841.1801.0111.0541.0531.000
Opp eFG%46.8%55.2%55.7%54.3%40.4%56.3%
Opp FTRate0.2480.2610.3140.1710.6840.417
Opp OReb%32.2%35.4%41.3%36.2%46.8%60.0%
Opp A/T1.2742.2101.2361.4031.3750.400
Opp AST%64.7%70.6%77.3%67.0%70.8%50.0%


Lineup Composition by Game


Note: Matthew and Michael Mache were not included in the prior analysis but are included in the above chart as forwards.