Dylan Disu made his season debut for the Longhorns against LSU in Houston as part of Texas’ 96-85 win over the Tigers. He scored 17 points on 4-of-8 shooting and was 9-for-9 at the line. He re-entered the starting lineup against Cincinnati, and has scored in double-figures in every game since save for a seven-point outing against UCF.
The best version of the Longhorns features Disu, and he and starting guard Max Abmas lead the team in scoring. Disu averages 16.6 ppg while Abmas pours in 17.7 a game.
Texas prefers to run in transition rather than settle into half-court offense due to the accumulation of athletes and dearth of bucket-getters outside of Disu and Abmas. But when Texas has to walk across the timeline, the pick-and-roll has been run often with Abmas and Disu and is one of the cornerstones of UT’s half-court looks.
“Our guys have been pretty effective with their reads,” Longhorns head coach Rodney Terry said Friday. “We’ve gotten better throughout the course of the year in terms of how teams are playing us, whether they’re playing us with a hard hedge, whether they’re trapping us, whether they’re switching, or whether they’re in drop coverage. I think our guys have done a great job of really working and reading the different coverages and getting better.”
According to data from EvanMiya, Abmas and Disu possess the third-best adjusted team efficiency margin (team efficiency margin adjusted for the quality of opponent players faced) among Longhorn duos who have been on the floor together for a minimum of 200 possessions. Abmas and Disu’s 19.3 trail only the 20.5 posted by Disu and Dillon Mitchell and the 24.0 from the rarely-used combo of Ithiel Horton and Kadin Shedrick.
That data indicates that Texas’ best basketball should include Abmas and Disu on the floor. But what’s the best combination of players to deploy around them?
EvanMiya’s data has the top Texas lineup in terms of adjusted efficiency margin that has played at least 80 possessions together consisting of Abmas, Horton, Mitchell, Shedrick, and Tyrese Hunter. Their adjusted team efficiency margin is 39.1. However, they’ve only been on the floor together for 89 offensive possessions.
There are two other lineups that not only have played at least 80 possessions together, they’ve shared the floor for at least 100 possessions. The first has Abmas, Hunter, Disu, Mitchell, and Brock Cunningham. Their adjusted team efficiency margin is 30.2.
The other? Abmas, Cunningham, Hunter, Mitchell, and Shedrick with an efficiency of 20.9.
Where’s Chendall Weaver? He’s part of a lineup with at least 100 offensive possessions along with Abmas, Disu, Hunter, and Mitchell. However, their adjusted team efficiency margin is 17.3, the lowest of the four that meet the criteria.
Though Weaver has been a dynamo of late, the analytics aren’t as kind to him. The only teammate with which he has a positive team efficiency margin is Mitchell.
So what’s the best lineup for Texas? Analytics says it’s Abmas, Hunter, Disu, Mitchell, Cunningham. That provides the offensive prowess of Abmas and Disu, a third-year player in Hunter, a glue guy in Cunningham, and one of the best athletes in college basketball in Mitchell. It does lack in pure size, but that’s one of the most experienced lineups Texas can put on the floor.
Recent events, however, suggest Weaver needs to be on the court, and that’s something Terry has done. He’s played 25 minutes or more in four of the last five games. But Weaver has his drawbacks, as his individual offensive game needs development. That’s why he only saw 18 minutes versus Iowa State since the Longhorns needed to battle back with an offensively-focused group.
So is it the lineup that has Abmas, Hunter, Weaver, Mitchell, Disu on the floor a tip-off?
Is it Abmas, Weaver, Cunningham, Mitchell, Disu? They’ve posted an incredible adjusted team efficiency margin of 88.2, but they’ve only been on the floor for about 40 possessions.
No matter who it is, Terry will have to deploy them effectively over the next eight regular season games in order to solidify Texas’ spot in the field of 68.