Four Potential Lineups for Coach Borrego to Use this Season

Charlotte Hornets Mitch Kupchak (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Mitch Kupchak (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With a roster looking very deep, the Charlotte Hornets could end up being one of the more versatile teams this season. Here’s four different lineups for four potential situations Coach Borrego could use this year:

Charlotte has spent the last several years acquiring young talent and strengthening the roster. Now, with talents like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, and Bismack Biyombo all battling for rotation minutes, the Hornets should have more situational flexibility.

Given James Borrego’s recent comments, it should be all the more likely that Charlotte experiments with some unique lineups. Last year, the Hornets toyed around with a few circumstantial five-man groups. The best non-starting five lineup that Steve Clifford utilized last year included Howard, Williams, Bacon, Lamb, and Walker. That unit sported a 20.4 NETRTG, and even in limited minutes was one of Charlotte’s most formidable groupings.

Still, that lineup was used mostly out of necessity, when early-season injuries forced Steve Clifford to go to the bench. These four different lineups might all have some usefulness in different scenarios – let’s hope James Borrego can pull them out.


On occasion, Charlotte will need some shooters to space the floor and knock down from deep to make great comeback. This unit might make that a little bit easier.

PG – Kemba Walker (38.4 3PT%)
SG – Jeremy Lamb (37.0%)
SF – Marvin Williams (41.3%)
PF – Frank Kaminsky III (38.0%)
C –  Willy Hernangomez (41.7%)

Although this lineup definitely provides some advantages offensively, it’s doubtful this particular unit will see the floor. Marvin Williams hasn’t played small forward in two seasons, and Hernangomez’s three point shooting is mostly theoretical, coming on only 12 attempts last season.

Defensively, these five might be among the worst pairings available for Charlotte. Walker and Williams are both plus team defenders, but aren’t good enough to make up for Lamb, Kaminsky, and Hernangomez’s shortcomings on that end. It’s a squad that lacks both rim protection and perimeter defense. That’s not a good combo.

Expect to only see this lineup if Coach Borrego busts out an ATO at the tail end of a game that necessitates the entire perimeter to be spaced out. It’s a group that’s great at shooting, but not much beyond that.

Raw, Athletic, and Talented

Coach Borrego has emphasized quick and decisive ball movement on the offensive end. However, if he wants a lineup that can get up the court and run the fast break, he won’t get much better than this.

PG – Kemba Walker
SG – Malik Monk
SF – Miles Bridges
PF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
C – Cody Zeller

While this isn’t the fastest lineup statistically, the blend of quickness, verticality, passing, and shooting make this team trouble in the open court. Between Walker, Monk, and Bridges there’s more than enough ability to stroke it from deep. Kidd-Gilchrist has been a nightmare slashing to the rim in past fast breaks, and Cody Zeller is a solid rebounder, outlet passer, and rim runner.

Given Miles Bridges’ unbelievably athletic dunks, this might also be the best group to throw down some massive slams. Cody Zeller and Kidd-Gilchrist aren’t shy about sending it home, either.

This is also a semi-feasible lineup for Charlotte. While it’d be a gamble for Borrego to throw two young players out there at the same time, it might be the spark the Hornets need if the give up a run. Defensively, there aren’t a ton of shortcomings, and there’s plenty of spacing and ball handling. Don’t be too surprised if this unit sees some minutes for Buzz City.

Let the Young Guns learn

One major criticism of former coach Steve Clifford was that even in major defeats, he’d still refuse to give rookies play time so that their skills could develop and become more polished. In the few events Charlotte gets blown out, James Borrego could deploy this squad and avoid those same critiques.

PG – Devonte’ Graham (R)
SG – Malik Monk (1)
SF – Dwayne Bacon (1)
PF – Miles Bridges (R)
– Willy Hernangomez (2)

This lineup features all of Charlotte’s most exciting young players. While it isn’t the Hornets most advantageous grouping of players, if they find themselves deep in a hole, there might not be a better group to try and develop chemistry with.

If these young guys stick around in Charlotte, they might as well get along.

Gritty Defensive Unit

In a close grind ’em out game, if it comes down to one stop to win it all, James Borrego needs to be prepared with his go-to guys. This could be a glance of what’s to come.

PG – Kemba Walker
SG – Dwayne Bacon
SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF – Marvin Williams
C – Cody Zeller

There isn’t a negative defender in this group, and only Kemba Walker is below 6’6″, providing ample size. Bacon, MKG, and Williams are all switchable defenders. Plus, Cody Zeller’s interior defense and ability to guard the pick and roll are crucial anchors for this defense. It doesn’t show up in the box score, but Zeller provides some quality rim protection. Not by blocking shots, but by being in the right place and affecting them. He allowed only opponents to shoot only 43% at the rim, acting as a lynchpin for this lineup.

Charlotte’s new coach hopes to bring about some change for Buzz City. One easy way to start is by utilizing lineups with different situational needs. While these four are certainly not guaranteed to see the court at all, they’re a starting point for the season to come. Watch for even more different and unique lineups in the next few months.