Cardinal Basketball

Which Backcourt Duo Is Louisville’s Best?

Gerry Broome | AP Photo

Louisville’s improved play in recent weeks has been hard to ignore. Only one of Louisville’s eight straight wins can be labeled as a “signature win,” but anyone paying attention can tell that this team is rounding into form as they get set for the final month of the season.

Since David Johnson and Malik Williams returned from injury, Louisville’s nine man rotation has been the same. With that said, minute distribution has fluctuated, especially in the backcourt.

David Johnson getting more minutes is the obvious difference throughout the eight game winning streak. Johnson averaged 6 mpg. in the first nine games he was available for. In Louisville’s eight straight wins, Johnson is averaging 17.5 mpg. and he’s clearly made this team better.

The visual and statistical evidence shows that Louisville is at their best when Johnson is on the floor at one of the guard positions.

The question is, which backcourt duo is Chris Mack’s best option?

Fresh Kimble, Darius Perry and Ryan McMahon have each individually made a major impact in at least one of the eight wins.

Regardless how Mack chooses to distribute the minutes, it’s clear that Johnson, Kimble, McMahon and Perry will all remain part of the rotation.

At this point, as long as Johnson is one of the guards, you can’t go wrong with whoever else you choose. As long as one of the other three plays pretty well and Johnson continues to improve, Louisville’s guard play “should” be good enough. With all of that said, @HoopsInsights has a good rundown of the plus/minus¬† with each duo over the past eight games.

-12 in 128 poss w Perry + Kimble
+35 in 128 poss w Johnson + McMahon
+29 in 92 poss w Kimble + McMahon
-4 in 52 poss w Johnson + Perry
+10 in 39 poss w Johnson + Kimble
+8 in 26 poss w Perry + McMahon

For those that aren’t familiar with what the plus/minus: The PM stat is “Plus/Minus”, and reflects how the team did while that player is on the court. If a player has a +5 PM, it means his team outscored the opponent by 5 points while he was on the court. If he has a -3, then the opposing team outscored his team by 3 points while he was on the court.

Although the numbers don’t back it up, personally, I feel the most confident in Louisville’s backcourt when Johnson and Kimble are on the floor together. However, if the trend continues, that’ll fluctuate from here on out.

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