With this roster, the Bobcats starting lineup will never find a group of five guys that will win many games. However, they can find a handful that can at least compete on a nightly basis and play together well.
That lineup is not Kemba Walker, Matt Carroll, Derrick Brown, Tyrus Thomas and Byron Mullens, as we have seen.
So who is it?
Let's take a look at the point guard first. Right now D.J. Augustin is injured so Walker is obviously the de facto starting PG. Kemba may have just gotten a triple-double, but I certainly can't deem him the best point guard on this team by any measure, especially with Augustin's improvement up to the point before he injured his toe. Augustin has proved to be a better passer than he's ever shown in the past and with worse talent than in any of Bobcats squads he's been a part of in his career. Since his rookie season when he was relied upon as the scoring 6th man, Augustin has raised his AST% from 22.6 to 35.4 percent. He reads pick and rolls better than I've seen from him before. But this isn't an Augustin praise fest. He has his flaws. His shooting is hardly picture-perfect, hovering around 41 percent. It's even worse when you look at his spot-up stats: 29.8 percent (per mysynergystats.com). But he's scoring well on the pick and roll and ranks eighth overall as a scorer in the pick and roll as a ballhandler, where he makes half of his shots. Augustin also is one of the better guards at controlling the ball. Right now he's turning the ball over only two and a half times each game, but I'd expect regression back to the mean when he returns.
Now, for the rest of the lineup, I'd stress a more flexible lineup that changes depending on the matchups. When the Bobcats face bigger, stronger small forwards, I'd keep Gerald Henderson at the two. When it's manageable for Henderson to defend and face the SF on offense, I'd put Walker at the two.
Positions aren't definitive categories that players must abide by and as we've seen, D.J. and Kemba can split the point guard duties. Regardless, Kemba's abilities are much needed on offense, as inefficient and inconsistent a scorer he's looked to be. Plus it gives him a plethora of time to learn the game, which he desperately needs. You'd think shooting the basketball was going out of vogue the way he plays sometimes. Much of the time I look at him on offense and wonder why he takes so many shots. And then I see everyone else just standing around on offense and I'm like, "oh, that's one reason." Still, the man takes a bunch of shots. No one can dispute this. Also, with Augustin reportedly available for the right price, this allows him to showcase his skills to hopefully gain a good return, if the Bobcats are to trade him.
Henderson is not the best matchup at small forward because of his size. He's even an inch undersized at shooting guard (OMG WTF TRADE HIM), but his defense allows him to play past his height. He's tough and has great hands and quickness. I wouldn't want to see him matched up defensively on LeBron, but he can handle some of the other small forwards in the league. Offensively, he's taken to driving to the hoop more than ever, getting past the slower SFs and finishing at the rim or drawing contact and going to the charity stripe more often. Once Corey Maggette returns, Henderson will likely return to shooting guard.
As for the power forward and center, I was not too confident on who I wanted starting in the frontcourt. But after talking to Josh some, we both agreed that we wanted to see a Bismack Biyombo-Boris Diaw PF-C combo.
Offensively, there's no difference in role for Biyombo between playing power forward and center. He'd play some pick and roll like he has been, but mostly stick to the block for post-ups. Diaw would do Diaw things, stretching the defense. The reason I want Diaw in there is for helping Biyombo get easy buckets. Last year we saw Diaw completely open up the offense for Kwame Brown. Diaw opened up the paint, creating space and would then dish to Brown. He can do the same with Biyombo.
Defensively, Diaw is just better in the post right now. He doesn't foul much and has very good positioning. Biyombo fouls much more as he learns game by game. That said, Bismack is a force on help defense and is very quick. His hands are quick to create turnovers and defend shots. Also, we wouldn't want Biyombo getting too overwhelmed moving from -378.29 minutes/game to a starting role as a rookie, so it may be a good idea to start him but limit his game time to 12-20 minutes. That way he gets good experience against good talent under his belt without asking too much of him too soon.
Yes, this is a greatly dysfunctional starting lineup. But the Bobcats already have a greatly dysfunctional roster. They should make some changes. They're already losing on average by double-digits every night. I say play around with the lineups some and get the young guys some burn against the tip-top competition. When Corey Maggette returns, the Bobcats can resume having a more conventional starting starting squad. But for now, there's not much conventional to put out on the court anyway. What's to lose?