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Cal basketball rotation: Who starts with Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown and Tyrone Wallace?

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A CGB community roundtable!

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

From the Jaylen Brown commitment story, CGB commenter ironiCALly asks: Starting 5? Suspect everyone will need to work harder now to keep/get a spot in the starting 5 . . .

Avinash Kunnath: My prediction for our starting rotation.

Point guard: Tyrone Wallace
Shooting guard: Jordan Mathews
Small forward: Jabari Bird
Power forward: Jaylen Brown
Center: Ivan Rabb

JustBear: Bench: Sam Singer, Stephen Domingo, Kingsley Okoroh, Kameron Rooks, Roger Moute

Dasarte Yarnway Fan Club: Tyson Jolly

LeonPowe: Domingo is probably going to be one of the starting wings. So Mathews or Bird to the bench I think.

EchoOfSilence: Domingo on bench, will be 6th man.

Reef: Cuonzo called him the best defender on the team. Cuonzo loves D. At last year’s open practice LeonPowe and I both thought he was the most skilled offensive player on the floor. You really think you can make your statement with certainty?

atomsareenough: I also thought so!

Reef: and atoms.

atomsareenough: <3

Reef (to Avinash): This lineup can’t guard anybody.

Avinash: Can anyone guard that lineup though.

Reef: This is true, but when we talk lineup and minutes do we really think Cuonzo will value offense over defense? It’s worth noting he recently said in the VIP/alum conference call that Domingo has been the best defender on the team in practice. That floored me, since he was so bad in high school.

Anyway, I think Rabb, Brown, Ty are going to get auto-minutes. The rest is way up in the air.

Avinash: I think in general you want your starting lineup to score. Then you bring in your defenders and turn it up the rest of the game.

The other possibility is starting Okoroh a few minutes or so, and then going small, but that probably puts Bird and Mathews on the bench. They have to be okay with that.

JustBear: Bird is usually on the bench.

ironiCALly: If Bird can stay healthy, I actually think he will have big year next year . . .

Reef: A lineup with Ty, Brown, Rabb + 1 shooter will be a 1.05+PPP team pretty much no matter what. Any of the other wings (Mathews, Bird, Domingo) will be able to shoot enough to space the floor. This gives Cuonzo a lot of flexibility and D will have to be a big factor in filling out the rest of the minutes (as will matchups).It’s not binary, of course, it’s a distribution thing, but it’s not one that’s particularly clear cut to me. I’m not ruling out the possibility that Jolly will bring some stuff the softer players don’t, further complicating the situation. I did state my highest leverage team in the thread above, and Jabari isn’t on it.

ironiCALly: This is undoubtedly the best entire recruiting class I can remember, and I honestly think that with such high profile recruits, Bird and Matthews will actually have to step up their games and compete to maintain playing time. I honestly don’t think it matters who the starting 5 are, and I think Cuonzo should reward the players who work hardest in practice. We have not had quality depth like this in a long time.

Reef: Yeah, exactly. Outside of those three, I’m not assuming anything. Cuonzo has a lot of options which means (1) they’re gonna have to earn it and (2) there will inevitably be people who aren’t happy, simply because adequate minutes do not exist for everyone.

There’s also the matter of our two 5s. I think the use of Rabb as our primary big for long stretches is more theory than reality. I don’t think that’ll be good for his growth and long term resiliency. I think we’ll go with it in high leverage spots or good matchups, but I don’t think we can do it all or even most of the game. Oko/Rooks are going to have to get run, IMO.

ironiCALly: I agree, Rabb needs some mass to consistently compete at the 5 in the Pac12. I like Rooks, but I am skeptical given his significant injury about his progress. For awhile I thought Okoroh had potential, but he seemed to get used less at the end of the season for reasons that weren’t clear to me. But with a plethora of quality wings now, teams won’t be able to collapse on the interior like they did last year.

Who would you say is going to be the best shooter next year? I think this is where Matthews has an advantage over Bird.

Reef: Mathews better shooter, Domingo bigger and a better defender…it’s actually a really interesting question where Jabari fits in.

Not that he doesn’t have the talent to pick up his game and be a huge contributor. But he’s gonna have to earn it.

LeonPowe: I think Kingsley got tired. Remember he hasn’t played a lot of high level basketball.

Mathews is a better stand still and off the catch shooter. Bird is a better in-motion shooter – think of Bird as a more a Rip Hamilton type of shooter, while Mathews is more of a Steve Novak.

Reef: Kingsley’s gonna be a great (not good, great) Pac-12 defensive center, and with so much O around him he’ll be able to take his time developing post moves. Also, I’ve heard good things about Rooks’ conditioning and skill development during the year off, so I could very well be wrong on his future value.

One way or the other, we will need our bigs, and although this signing does change the minutes a bit, I haven’t changed my mind on that.

Nick Kranz: What excites me is that we have enough scoring on the roster now that Kingsley can 100% devote himself to defense and rebounding.

LeonPowe: Nah, he needs to be able to catch everything in his vicinity and lay it up (or dunk it) – he’s going to be very very open as defenses bend around all the shooting on the court. All that ability to drive and shoot will give him lots of open open open shots.

Reef: I think we are all confident from what we saw last year that he can catch and dunk.

This is gonna be fun.