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What is Minnesota’s ‘Death Lineup’?

The Gophers have a “best” lineup, but what is it?

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

If you follow the NBA you may be familiar with the term “Death Lineup.” That’s the Golden State Warriors who were able to put out a combination of players that could matchup with and beat almost anyone on the offensive and defensive sides. In short, it was an unbeatable collection of players.

Now, we’re not naive enough to think that the Minnesota Gophers have any sort of impervious collection of players, but they’re a talented bunch who can beat almost anyone when they’re playing at a high level. But what’s the Gophers equivalent of a Death Lineup? This question got brought up recently between the basketball writers, so we decided to have an open discussion about it.

mowe0018: Okay, so in our “death lineup” is it Dupree or Gabe at the 2? Or is it both and no Isaiah Washington? I think I’ll take Gabe for shooting purposes.

zipsofakron: I’m going with: Dupree - 1, Gabe - 2, Amir - 3, Murphy - 4, Curry - 5, unless you’ve got Jelly playing like he did on Wednesday, then I’d switch him out for Dupree.

mowe0018: I like Dupree for more length. Honestly, I think he does everything better than Jelly except ball handling. Though the tempo goes up when you have Jelly in there, for sure.

Ustreet: That’s because Coffey does what McBrayer does on offense, but substantially better.

gophernation: You gotta go with Gabe for defense and shooting for that lineup. Also, Oturu is for sure in the Death Lineup. The double-doubles alone make the case, and he gets more blocks than Curry.

zipsofakron: I still like Curry because of his court IQ. Things move so much better when he’s out there.

Ustreet: Okay, hear me out. For all intents and purposes, Minnesota’s best lineup has been the starting lineup because Jelly can’t get out of his own way. But for sheer point production in my view the best lineup they can put on the floor is Jelly/Gabe/Coffey/Murphy/Curry

mowe0018: Agree. I feel like the lineup becomes “death” when Gabe and one other player is hitting 3s. We go on the big runs when Coffey or McBrayer knock down a three. It just opens up the floor for driving the lane and Murphy on the block. And it’s a boon for offensive rebounds. So, in my view the argument boils down to getting the three best shooters out there in the 1-3 spots.

Ustreet: Totally agree. But I think, assuming everyone is playing well, Jelly at the point gives the team the best point production. Because he can get to the basket at will. And then everyone is open. Of course, he often doesn’t play well, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

mowe0018: Scoring at will? I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I think he settles for long jumpers more often than not, And he’s not a great shooter. I wonder what his at-the-rim numbers are (is that a stat?) because both his shooting percentages from the floor are offensive.

gophernation: My two cents, if all everyone is playing at the top of their game, Jelly is in. However, typically McBrayer is more reliable and that is usually our best lineup.

mowe0018: I think McBrayer playing well has higher ceiling than Jelly because of his three-point shooting. Dupree’s ceiling is much higher there.

Ustreet: Fair. I’m not gonna pretend that Jelly is a good shooter, though from watching his mechanics it’s unclear to me why he’s been sooooo bad thus far. Apart from being a bit flat on the arc, everything looks alright. But McBrayer has always been an awesome sixth man to me, which is not an insult. If I’m Pitino and I need to close a game out on defense I play McBrayer and I don’t think twice about it.

zipsofakron: I’m going to go on record and say that I think Jelly is a better shooter than he’s shown to be thus far and with more confidence he’d actually be a bigger deep threat than McBrayer.

mowe0018: I just wish Jelly would focus on being a pass-first point. But he thinks he’s more. He should be an Al Nolen but plays like a Lawrence Westbrook.

Ustreet: Alright, what’s the worst lineup we can come up with of the people who actually play.

mowe0018: I’m not going there.