The Washington Wizards are finally almost fully healthy, with their injury report being as short as it has been since the beginning of the season. This has brought one thing to light: the Wizards need to make a lineup change in their backcourt.
Delon Wright returned from injury last week and has made a significant impact on the defensive end as usual. With his defensive playmaking and intensity, he was one of the deciding factors in last night's win against the Brooklyn Nets. He deserves more minutes and a larger role.
In fact, the Wizards are 17.8 points per 100 possessions better with Delon Wright on the court than off, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Wright's increase in minutes will obviously come at the expense of Tyus Jones and Jordan Poole's minutes. And that is a good thing.
The Jones-Poole pairing in the backcourt has been one of the most disastrous two-man combinations in the league all season. In the 1373 possessions Jones and Poole shared the court, Washington has gotten outscored by 15.2 points per 100 possessions, one of the worst marks in the league. The backcourt of undersized guards can't defend anybody while not being able to generate enough good shots on the other end.
On the other hand, lineups that don't feature either Poole or Jones have done incredibly well. In 582 possessions, five-man units that don't include either of these players have outscored their opponents by 8.9 points per 100 possessions. Their offensive rating of 121.8 and a defensive rating of 112.9 would rank them among the best teams in the NBA.
The most successful lineups include a combination of Delon Wright, Landry Shamet, Bilal Coulibaly, and Corey Kispert in the backcourt. Defensive disruption that Coulibaly and Wright provide, and the veteran competence that Shamet brings are the main contributing factors to this success.
Removing both Jones and Poole from the starting lineup may be difficult. Poole is the highest-paid player on the team, and Jones is an established, experienced veteran who has been playing very well individually this season. However, coach Wes Unseld Jr has to find more minutes for players who have been driving success for the Wizards. It's obvious that Wright and Shamet need more playing time, at least until the trade deadline, to give this team a semblance of competence.