ICYMI: Having fun with Kentucky basketball lineup combinations

2 of 2

The “small ball” lineup:   Ulis, a Harrison, Booker, Poythress, Take your pick

Considering the amount of bodies this Kentucky team will have up front, I doubt we see a small ball lineup like this much next season, if at all. But the potential for one is intriguing, especially if Ulis and Booker live up to the descriptions they’ve been handed. Both Lyles and Towns can stretch the floor with their shooting, so if you insert one of them in the middle — or even both with one in place of Poythress — you’re looking at Kentucky’s best shooting combination possible.

The “rookie” lineup:   Ulis, Booker, Lyles, Towns, Marcus Lee

I would be surprised if we ever saw this combination for a variety of reasons, but it’s worth discussing anyway — not to mention, how many other programs would love to have this as their starting lineup? There’s been some talk of whether Lyles can play the “small forward” position, but I don’t think we’ll see him there much unless the opposition features a larger than normal lineup (think Texas). He has the shooting and ball skills to provide this lineup with the space it needs, but asking him to guard a wing or even a guard is a tough task. I put Lee in with this group due to his limited minutes last season.

The lineup I don’t think you’ll see:   Any combination of guards, Poythress, Johnson, Cauley-Stein

Worst case scenario here is if Poythress loses any confidence he might’ve had in shooting from the outside, leaving little to no space for this group to operate on offense. Johnson is limited to post play and offensive put-backs, as he didn’t show much of an ability to work in pick-and-rolls and he doesn’t leave the paint very often. Throw in Cauley-Stein to that mix, another big who is allergic to a jumper (for good reason), and there’s just no space for, say, the Harrisons to drive to score or kick. Good luck rebounding against this lineup, but defending them wouldn’t necessarily be that difficult.

The “all-athleticism” lineup:   An. Harrison, Aa. Harrison, Poythress, Lee, Cauley-Stein

This would be Kentucky’s version of “Lob City” here and I wouldn’t rule out seeing this combination in spurts. Lee and Cauley-Stein could take turns setting screens for a Twin and then diving towards the rim for an alley-oop. Also, this isn’t to say the ‘Cats don’t have other athletic players on the roster, but this group would be the five best.

The “all-shooting” lineup:   Ulis, Aa. Harrison, Booker, Lyles, Towns

A lot of this is dependent on if the freshmen can provide what many say they will be able to. Booker has been called one of the better outside shooters in this recruiting cycle, while Lyles and Towns can both step behind the 3-point line and knock down a shot. If all of that turns out to be true, this will group will be one of my personal favorites for next season, and would be a bit of a nightmare to defend.