The Washington Wizards have been struggling to find lineup combinations that work. Through the first 21 games of the season, seemingly every lineup has failed, as the Wizards can't guard anyone or score in the clutch. However, some interesting data points in two-man lineup combinations could offer an insight into which pairings work better.
According to NBA.com data, there have been 23 different two-player combinations that logged over 150 minutes so far for the Washington Wizards. The 21 of them have negative plus-minuses in their minutes. In fact, the two most utilized combinations; Kyle Kuzma-Tyus Jones and Kyle Kuzma-Jordan Poole have been outscored by 162 and 198 points, respectively.
The only two two-man combinations that have outscored their opponents this season both feature rookie Bilal Coulibaly. The combination of Danilo Gallinari and Bilal Coulibaly are +18 in their 207 minutes together.
However, the most successful pairing for the Wizards this season is the duo of Coulibaly and Landry Shamet. Lineups that feature both Shamet and Coulibaly have scored at an elite level while holding their own on the defensive end. In their 330 possessions together, these lineups have outscored their opponents by 8.7 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass data. They have scored an impressive 122.4 points and only allowed 113.7 points per 100 possessions.
The lineup this combination has played the most with is the five-man group of Landry Shamet-Bilal Coulibaly-Corey Kispert-Deni Avdija-Danilo Gallinari. The Wizards have found great success with this unit in a limited sample size of 65 possessions, outscoring their opponents by 41.5 points per 100 possessions. This lineup has an intriguing mix of shooting and perimeter defense and is worth giving more playing time.
It's important to note that we are only a quarter of the way into the season. The lineup data is relying on small sample sizes. Yet, there is still plenty of value in figuring out which players play the best with each other. The Wizards clearly have something with the Coulibaly-Shamet pairing and they should explore it further during the rest of the season.