Basketball

The Endless Possibilities of a Starting Lineup

Let your mind wander.

When I think about the lineup possibilities, my head starts to spin. There are times where I can’t quite wrap my head around who will start, who will sit, who will play, and how the players will all contribute. I don’t think the roster is completely settled, but I think we’re a lot closer than where we were a month ago.

I’ve cleaned up the eligibility chart to show you how the roster sits as we speak and projecting to the 2020-21 season. The only caveat to this chart is that Jamarius Burton is the transfer from Wichita State and will most likely have to sit out the year.

Position Player 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
Guard Davide Moretti (6-2/175)
Kyler Edwards (6-3/200)
Clarence Nadolny (6-3/190)
Nimari Burnett (6-3/185)
Avery Benson (6-4/200)
Jamarius Burton (6-4/210)
Small Forward Terrence Shannon, Jr. (6-7/185)
Kevin McCullar (6-5/180)
Micah Peavy (6-7/172)
Forward Tyreek Smith (6-8/205)
Joel Ntambwe (6-9/210)
Chibuzo Agbo, Jr. (6-7/215)
Esahia Nyiwe (6-10/210)
Marcus Santos-Silva (6-7/250)
TOTALS 13 11 9 4 0

I think that Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard likes to have at least two guards, pretty certain of that, and then a combination of three forwards, with the idea that there’s at least one small forward on the floor at any minute, but could be more. And I’m calling them small forwards because they aren’t necessarily guards, although they do play on the perimeter, and they aren’t necessarily bigs, but they can guard the post. The small forward has to be the most versatile spot on the team and I think there’s a reason why Beard has three highly skilled small forwards on the team.

Guards

I think the safe bet is that Moretti and Edwards get the start. That’s the safest bet. But I think that Burnett is the pass-first point guard that would possibly allow Moretti or Edwards play off the ball a bit. I think Moretti and Edwards are both mis-cast a bit in that I don’t think they are true point guards (which is fine) and Beard’s system demands that you be able to accept that responsibility because there is no real point guard that brings up the ball.

I think the plan would be for Moretti and Edwards, but reserve the idea that Burnett could start in order to allow Edwards or Moretti to come off the bench. Edwards came off the bench before last year, so maybe he’s the guy that does that.

I should also mention that pretty much all year last year, Beard ran out a three-guard lineup, with Moretti, Edwards, and Jahmi’us Ramsey. That’s a possibility with Moretti, Edwards, and Burnett, but I think the difference between 2020 and 2021 is that there are a lot more big-man options that are really versatile and there are not a ton of guards. It is a much more balanced roster for sure.

Small Forward

There’s almost too much talent here, but depending on how these players improve their game, any one of these guys could probably swing to a guard position because they can all play defense. The reason they aren’t listed with the guards just yet is because they really aren’t proven outside shooters.

For the year last year, Shannon shot 25.7% from the three-point range and only made 36.9% of his far two-point shots. McCullar was more of the same, only making 29.6% of his three-point shots and 38.5% of his far two-point shots. That’s the area where both of these guys need to improve, without a doubt as they do so many other things so well.

I’d also add that I am lumping Peavy with the small forwards because I tend to think that his outside shot needs work. I think I’ve read that before and with his size and lack of weight, he fits what Beard likes to do as far as small forwards are concerned. He actually has terrific handles, finishes terrifically around the rim, has terrific body-control, but might be pushed around a bit playing inside immediately. He’ll develop that jump shot and he’ll be similar to both of the small forwards here.

Forwards

This is where things get interesting and I tend to think, with all of the talent returning and all of the talent that we haven’t seen just yet, that two of these guys will be on the court at any one time next year. I don’t think it was any secret that the with just T.J. Holyfield, Chris Clarke, and McCullar, with a dash of Russel Tchewa, that this was the extent of Texas Tech’s big men last year.

With a new year comes a lot of possibilities. Beard has a ton of options right now for the bigs and I could honestly see how you’ll get two of these guys playing at a time.

There’s been so much build-up for Ntambwe and from everything I’ve ready, he’s a stretch forward, can play outside and I also think he’s bulked up quite a bit. So rather than a skinny small forward, Ntambwe has worked his way into a four forward that can play outside in, and guard most forwards, small or otherwise.

And then you add in Santos-Silva and you have a guy that can bang inside. A rebounding machine that averaged nearly a double-double last year. He is mainly an inside threat that just plays inside, but Santos-Silva will run the floor and there isn’t a big-man that will be able to push him around.

Aside from these two, you’ll get an improved Tyreek Smith, a big who redshirted last year, but is supposed to be one of those shot-blockers who is incredibly long and I’d guess that he’s up 10 to 15 pounds.

Agbo is a Ntambwe starter-kit, he’s a bigger forward, bigger than Peavy and Smith, but he’s got a really nice outside game, actually a really smooth outside shot and he’s going to be difficult to guard and difficult to play from an offensive standpoint. So the minutes that Ntambwe can play, Agbo will be able to fill in the gaps.

Smith is a dunking and shot-blocking machine. That’s what he does. He’ll have to expand his game, but if he just does that for a year, that’s plenty.

Nyiwe is the wildcard, given the Luke Adams recommendation, Nyiwe will be a similar player in that he’s long, can shoot from the outside, has played in a decent JUCO league and performed relatively well. The rest of the Big 12 is going to say, “Where in the hell did this guy come from?” because he’s about as under the radar as you can get and he’s supremely talented, has terrific handles, and does it at 6’10”.

Conclusion

The common theme is that Beard, I think, has his roster that he’s generally dreamed of, which is a roster that has multiple players that can nearly guard every position, guys that can switch, get to the basket, create opportunities for others, and did I mention defend? The big men might offer up better shooters than the small forwards, which seems backwards, but this is the positionless basketball that Chris Beard has always wanted. Stretch the floor and create significant drive, dish, and finish opportunities, because the traditional big defenders won’t be around the basket.

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