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Lineup flexibility should be a strength for the Spurs

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When you have a lot of good players on your roster you can get creative with lineups.

Pop, I have some lineup ideas I'd like to run by you. What if
Pop, I have some lineup ideas I'd like to run by you. What if
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jesus Gomez had a terrific story the other day on how LaMarcus Aldridge's unique talents can make the Spurs one of the more dangerous small-ball squads in the league. He had an addendum to it focusing on Aldridge's defense and the concerns at that end (Warning: He Who Shall Not Be Named [hint: FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME] was mentioned). I strongly encourage you to read both pieces if you have not done so already.

Normally, I like to offer rebuttals to Gomez in this space, either because I flat out disagree with his opinion or just to play devil's advocate. This time, I can't in good conscience do either, but I was intrigued by a comment from reader Scoot Tre:

If and when we go small, the two lineups I really want to see are:

Tony
Patty
Danny
Kawhi
Aldridge

And

Tony
Danny
Kawhi
Bobo
Aldridge

Those in stretches will be deadly

Now for those lineups, I'd prefer to sub in Manu Ginobili for Tony Parker for better three-point shooting and defensive balance. Aside from that, the comment got me thinking about the Spurs and the potential for the various lineups they can employ. If my math is correct (wouldn't bet the farm there) there are 360,360 different 5-man combinations possible with a 15-man roster, and while Gregg Popovich likes to use the regular season to experiment more than most of his peers, I don't foresee him trying that many.

I've written about rotations that Pop may use next season, but what I really like about the Spurs is the versatility of their individual pieces. Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and David West can all play power forward or center, to various degrees of effectiveness. Kawhi Leonard can play as a small forward or a small-ball four. Ginobili can play all three perimeter positions, giving the Spurs size at point guard. Patty Mills can play the one or the two. Even youngsters Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons offer some positional flexibility. The 2015-16 Spurs may not be quite as deadly from outside as we've grown accustomed to nor quite as formidable in their rim protection, but it will be a bigger, more athletic and more versatile roster. I imagine a mad scientist like Pop has to be feeling like a kid at a candy store these days.

There's a quality quintet for every conceivable situation.

Okay, we know the expected starting lineup.

C Duncan

PF Aldridge

SF Leonard

SG Green

PG Parker

Not gonna lie, I can't wait to see this group dominate. I'm particularly intrigued by the hi-lo possibilities with Duncan and Aldridge. I expect Duncan to shoot something like 70 percent with Alridge on the floor. His chances are going to be nothing but bunnies.

We think we know the first five off the bench.

C Diaw

PF West

SF Anderson

SG Ginobili

PG Mills

This fivesome isn't my cup of tea for various reasons, and as I've said before, I think it'd make more sense to play Anderson with the starters and to drop Leonard down with this group, like the Bulls used to do during their dynasty, when Scottie Pippen would be the lone starter to play with and lead the bench units. Also I'd split up Diaw and West so one plays with Duncan and one plays with Aldridge, so there's always rebounding and rim protection.

Anyway, that's the boring stuff. What about small-ball?

C Duncan

PF Leonard

SF Green

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

What about small-ball, but with floor-spacing?

C Aldridge

PF Leonard

SF Green

SG Ginobili

PG Mills

How about small-ball, Warriors style (i.e. microball)?

C Diaw

PF Leonard

SF Green

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

Leonard, Green and Ginobili are all good-to-great rebounders for their position, so you might be able to get away with this lineup. (Unless the other team has Chris Bosh on the floor for some reason in that case you probably want to put a big out there but that's just a hypothetical and I don't know when it'd ever come up and I don't even know why I'm mentioning it. Ahem.)

You want two-way floor balance, with spacing?

C Aldridge

PF Diaw

SF Leonard

SG Green

PG McCallum

What I like about this lineup is that Aldridge and Diaw could flip-flop spots so one can post and one can pop to the three-point line to confuse opponents. Or they can play pick-and-roll together. Leonard and Green are obviously two-way threats and McCallum can provide some first-wave defensive resistance while shooting from outside or driving to the cup. I would expect Leonard or Diaw to initiate.

You want optimal defense?

C Duncan

PF Aldridge

SF Leonard

SG Green

PG Ginobili

I would expect Green to pick up the point guard on defense with this look, though you can sub in Simmons in his spot if you trust him enough on offense or just want Leonard to be the play-maker.

How about optimal offense?

C Duncan

PF Bonner

SF Leonard

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

Honestly I have no idea if this would be the best offensive lineup. Maybe Mills instead of Parker? Maybe Aldridge instead of Duncan? Diaw? I'm thinking in terms of guys who lead the team in offensive rating year after year, and Rocket always seems to be up there. I really have no idea, which is kind of my point about the almost infinite options Pop has.

What if you want to run a "five-out" offense, like Mike Budenholzer did with Atlanta the past couple of seasons, even though Pero Antic couldn't really, uh, you know, shoot?

C Aldridge

PF Diaw

SF Green

SG Ginobili

PG Mills

You may prefer Bonner to Diaw here (or Aldridge too, actually) and Leonard to Ginobili, depending on how they're shooting that day. So. Many. Choices.

How about a "tough guy" lineup, if you're not in the mood to take any crap from the other team?

C Duncan

PF West

SF Leonard

SG Simmons

PG Ginobili

Ginobili would absolutely murder you in the Octagon. It'd be over in less time than a Ronda Rousey fight. But I'm willing to hear you out on Mills. I'm not willing to hear you out on Bonner.

How about just future Hall-of-Famers?

C Duncan

PF Aldridge

SF Leonard

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

Damn, I love that lineup. I suppose Diaw, Mills and West have chances for this too, considering the international accomplishments of the first two.

Speaking of which, how about Charles Barkley's all-Euro lineup?

C Marjanovic

PF Diaw

SF Ginobili

SG Mills

PG Parker

Gee whiz, what happened to all the foreign guys?

I guess there's been a lot of roster turnover for the Spurs. What if Pop wants to go with continuity and corporate knowledge?

C Duncan

PF Bonner

SF Green

SF Ginobili

PG Parker

Leonard or Diaw can be used here too. I think they know the plays by now.

How about just old guys?

C Duncan

PF West

SF Bonner

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

Did you ever imagine Parker being in an "old guys" lineup? What does that say about this team?

/looks at mirror

/cries for hours

How about a youth movement?

C Aldridge

PF Leonard

SF Anderson

SG Simmons

PG McCallum

Look at all them millennials! Yes, Aldridge is 30 and Marjanovic is 27, so from a narrative standpoint you'd go with the giant dude, but of the two of them, who do you think runs around like the younger man? Heck, Duncan would make more sense here than Marjanovic.

What if you just want to watch guys run up and down the floor and maybe flush one now and again?

C Aldridge

PF Leonard

SF Green

SG Simmons

PG McCallum

I was literally debating between Ginobili and McCallum just now. I think other teams might have better options in this category.

What if you want some dizzying passing?

C Duncan

PF Diaw

SF Anderson

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

Should've had Leonard here instead of Parker tbh.

What about the All-Interview Team?

C West

PF Bonner

SF Green

SG Ginobili

PG McCallum

This lineup features two fellas I've literally never spoken to.

What if you just want to see Pop go "Serbian?"

C Marjanovic

PF Bonner

SF Green

SG Ginobili

PG Parker

Some controversy here. Parker was the captain of this lineup for years but Green has worn the "C" since 2013. Tiago and Marco are dearly missed here, obviously. Do you think Pop would lose his mind with Anderson? I'm not sure. With Marjanovic he literally gets to speak Serbian to him, so...

What if you want me to go Serbian?

C Diaw

PF Bonner

SF Anderson

SG Mills

PG Parker

I'm getting angry just thinking about it.

How about a defense-optional lineup?

C Marjanovic

PF Bonner

SF Anderson

SG Simmons

PG McCallum

And on that note, I invite all of you to come up with some fun combinations in the comments.