A few commenters have been suggesting it for several weeks, and now Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com gives some MSM cred to the idea of starting Marquis Daniels and placing Ray Allen with the second unit:
At a time when Boston is clearly struggling to generate open looks for Allen, maybe it makes more sense to get a slasher on the floor like Daniels, who is sure to remove some stagnancy from the first unit with his tireless movement.
What’s more, Daniels is one of Boston’s top defenders, allowing him to guard the opposing team’s best player and taking some of that pressure off Paul Pierce early in games.
The other benefit is that Allen now comes off the bench, not only driving down his minutes, but giving Boston a Jamal Crawford-like scorer with the second unit. Sure, Nate Robinson was brought in for similar bench output, but if there’s one knock on Boston’s second unit, it’s that their scoring isn’t always overwhelming.
Let’s compile a brief pro/con list:
• Pro: We have 2 3/4 seasons of evidence that Ray Allen playing with the second unit is a very, very productive line-up. I’ve written before about Allen’s strange ability to make his teammates better, and that has been most visible in the production of line-ups featuring Allen and four bench players. This part of the equation is easy: Ray + Bench = Productive.
• Con: A Daniels/Rondo back court is a very, very poor jump-shooting back court. We all know about Rondo, but Daniels has historically had an effective field-goal percentage on jumpers in the mid-30s, according to 82games (see here and here, for instance) and Hoopdata. Playing these guys together for five minutes a game is one thing; playing them together for 15 minutes is a different thing, and it could create spacing issues that gum up the works on offense.
• Pro: Ray plays fewer minutes, saving his legs for the playoffs;
• Con: There are other ways to cut Ray’s minutes, like, for instance, cutting his minutes.
• Pro: As Forsberg notes, Daniels is easy guy to play with. He’s a good passer, and you can fit him into a new line-up smoothly.
• Con: If the starters are struggling, does it make sense to make a drastic change and remove Allen? Remember: A huge percentage of Boston’s go-to offensive sets involve Allen moving off the ball as either Option #1 or a second/third option if the primary play doesn’t work. Nobody else on the team plays Ray’s style, so you’re talking about tossing out a lot of plays the starters are used to.
• Pro: An Allen/Nate Robinson back court could be very, very dynamic offensively. The line-up data show that when Boston’s bench struggles, it’s because they struggle to score. The defense remains strong.
• Con: This sort of change doesn’t really address any of the team’s core problems, and Ray is going to play the key minutes anyway. Marquis Daniels is not a savior, but then again, nobody thought inserting Robin Lopez into the Phoenix starting line-up would turn their season around.
I’m swamped today, so I don’t have time for more. What do you guys think?