Indiana’s starting lineup emphasizes talent.
The Hoosiers have two former five-stars, two four-stars and one former three-star in their current five. It makes some measure of sense to get all of that talent on the floor together at once.
Here's an interesting little bit of data, via @EvanMiya.— Assembly Call (⚪, ) (@AssemblyCall) January 17, 2024
Indiana's starting 5, the Cupps version, is one of the 10 most efficient lineups in the country.
Think about how many good starts to halves we've had, and it makes sense. (Though I was surprised to see it THIS high.) pic.twitter.com/Xj2mzsEGZu
So yes, it does evidently make sense. This is not advocating for a change in the starting lineup, rather a move in one of the reserve lineups.
Mackenzie Mgbako is 6’8”, 217 lbs, according to ESPN. That’s a good deal of size to start at the wing. He has enough speed to get down the court and can put some zip on the ball as a passer but lacks a sound enough handle to be a playmaker and distribute off the dribble.
His strength in high school and some of his best games at Indiana have come from making shots off of movement. Indiana’s offense has just two distributors as true guards in most lineups with him, though Malik Reneau is already an adept passer out of the post.
So what if Mgbako was at the four rather than the three? Three guards, Mgbako and then one of Reneau or Kel’el Ware in at the five?
Three ballhandlers, like Gabe Cupps, Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway, could help him find more room to fire from deep or in the midrange while getting the ball around the halfcourt more easily.
Reneau posting up could kick it out to Mgbako in the corner, who could shoot over most given his height, drive past a closeout or keep the ball moving to get the defense out of position to find an open look.
For reference, Mgbako is hitting 40% on corner 3s. The dynamic of that could change slightly with him at the four, but he and Reneau could compliment one another, with Mgbako’s defender hesitant to leave on the double with that shooting in mind.
It’s been discussed since before the season began, but it’s an adjustment worth looking into.