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Pluses, minuses, lineups, and the 2017-18 Missouri Tigers

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How many different lineups has Missouri used this year? If you guessed fewer than 100...you’re wrong.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Missouri
Jontay Porter has a +32 in Missouri’s SEC games, best on the team.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What’s this? No football picture up top? What in the world is going on?

This week, I’m stepping a little bit out of my analytical bubble to bring you some fruits from my season-long labor of love.

If you’ve been paying attention this season, I’ve been keeping plus-minus data for all of the Tigers’ players and all of their lineup configurations...136 of them so far.

My hope is that people can use these numbers to get a little deeper look into which combinations have clicked for the Tigers this year and which have not.

The big criticism of plus-minus (simply, the points a team scores when a player is on the floor minus the points the team gives up) is that it’s not really indicative of that one player’s impact. Which is true. Because there are four other players determining that plus-minus.

So, to control for that, might as well see how the team does when every combo of five players is on the floor, right?

Anyway, here you go. I broke the numbers down into the past eight games with the Tigers’ current roster configuration (so, no Blake Harris or Terrence Phillips) and in all SEC games. I could do overall as well, but I don’t think that’s very instructive right now:

Current Roster (past 8 games)

Plus/Minus

  • Jontay Porter: +29
  • Jordan Barnett: +23
  • Reed Nikko: +17
  • Team: +16
  • Kassius Robertson: +9
  • Jordan Geist: +4
  • Cullen VanLeer: +4
  • Kevin Puryear: +1
  • Jeremiah Tilmon: -5

Robertson has played all but 11:23 of the past eight games (or 1:25 a game...or 97 percent of the games...which is insane...), so you wouldn’t expect his plus-minus to be that different from the team. But it is kind of interesting that Missouri is +7 in those 11:23 without him.

Check out Nikko up there with a +17 in only 61:44. Not a bad spark off the bench for 8 minutes a game.

Points per Minute on Floor

  • Jontay Porter: 1.81
  • Reed Nikko: 1.77
  • Jordan Barnett: 1.760
  • Kevin Puryear: 1.756
  • Kassius Robertson: 1.754
  • Jordan Geist: 1.752
  • Team: 1.745
  • Cullen VanLeer: 1.70
  • Jeremiah Tilmon: 1.65

So, by sheer points per minute alone, the most potent offensive lineup Missouri has had in the past eight games would be Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Porter-Nikko. That exact lineup is not one of the 30 that has graced the court in the past eight games.

Points Against per Minute on Floor

  • Reed Nikko: 1.49
  • Jontay Porter: 1.66
  • Cullen VanLeer: 1.67
  • Jeremiah Tilmon: 1.675
  • Jordan Barnett: 1.678
  • Team: 1.70
  • Kassius Robertson: 1.73
  • Jordan Geist: 1.74
  • Kevin Puryear: 1.75

Same method, VanLeer-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon-Nikko would be the best defensive lineup...I’d imagine that lineup will never see the light of day either.

Most-Used Lineups

  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon: 101-86 in 55:20
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Porter: 99-95 in 49:24
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: 74-73 in 43:15
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: 50-67 in 35:37
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Nikko: 32-29 in 19:22

Lineup Plus-Minus (min. 1:00 per game)

  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon: +15 in 55:20
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon: +12 in 14:37
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Nikko: +9 in 9:25
  • Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Porter: +7 in 15:12
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Porter: +4 in 49:24
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Nikko: +3 in 19:22
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Porter: +2 in 13:03
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: +1 in 43:15
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Nikko: -5 in 9:21
  • Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Tilmon: -8 in 11:58
  • Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Porter-Tilmon: -9 in 10:11
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: -17 in 35:37

Judging by points per minute, Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Nikko (2.44) is the most potent offensively; Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Porter-Tilmon (1.08) is the least.

Judging by points per minute against, Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon (1.23) would be the best defensively and Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Tilmon (2.17) would be the worst.


SEC Play (15 games)

Plus/Minus

  • Jontay Porter: +32
  • Jordan Barnett: +30
  • Reed Nikko: +16
  • Team: +10
  • Kassius Robertson: +5
  • Blake Harris: +2
  • Jeremiah Tilmon: -3
  • Cullen VanLeer: -4
  • Jordan Geist: -5
  • Terrence Phillips: -6
  • Kevin Puryear: -15

What’s interesting here? Some big jumps in plus-minus over the past eight games. Porter was +3 over the first seven, then went +29. Barnett was +7, then went +23. Nikko was -1, then went +17. Puryear was -16, then went +1. The only one going in the opposite direction: Tilmon, who was -5 after going +2 in the first seven.

Points per Minute on Floor

  • Blake Harris: 2.11
  • Jontay Porter: 1.75
  • Terrence Phillips: 1.74
  • Reed Nikko: 1.73
  • Jordan Barnett: 1.722
  • Jordan Geist: 1.717
  • Kassius Robertson: 1.7083
  • Team: 1.7081
  • Kevin Puryear: 1.706
  • Cullen VanLeer: 1.67
  • Jeremiah Tilmon: 1.61

Discounting Harris and Phillips, the most potent offensive lineup would be Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Nikko, That lineup has gone 29-28 in 18:21 in SEC play and scores 1.58 points per minute, well below the team average. So divide those five and you get better offensive results than when they’re together.

Points Against per Minute on Floor

  • Reed Nikko: 1.60
  • Jeremiah Tilmon: 1.62
  • Jontay Porter: 1.66
  • Jordan Barnett: 1.67
  • Cullen VanLeer: 1.686
  • Team: 1.692
  • Kassius Robertson: 1.70
  • Jordan Geist: 1.73
  • Kevin Puryear: 1.74
  • Terrence Phillips: 1.84
  • Blake Harris: 1.91

And the best defense would be, again, VanLeer-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon-Nikko...which, again, is not one of the 70 that has come out in SEC play. Would be pretty entertaining to watch though.

Most-Used Lineups

  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Porter: 203-200 in 107:40
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon: 159-141 in 98:40
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: 126-115 in 71:00
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: 57-70 in 38:48
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Nikko: 59-63 in 37:33

Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon has seen a little more usage over the past eight games, from 6:11 per game to 6:55. Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon has risen from 3:58 to 5:24.

The big mover, predictably, is Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon, which is getting used 4:27 per game over the past eight. In the first seven: 27 seconds.

But, as you can also see, that lineup has been the Tigers’ worst lately, at a -17 over the past eight games.

You know what that is, right? Missouri’s starting lineup for the past seven games. Slow starts in the first and second halves...

Lineup Plus-Minus (min. 1:00 per game)

  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon: +18 in 98:40
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: +11 in 71:00
  • Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Porter: +8 in 19:11
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Porter-Tilmon: +7 in 20:59
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Porter: +3 in 18:45
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Porter: +3 in 107:40
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Porter-Nikko: +1 in 18:21
  • Geist-Robertson-Barnett-Puryear-Nikko: -4 in 37:33
  • Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Tilmon: -11 in 15:54
  • Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Tilmon: -13 in 38:48

In points per minute, Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Porter (1.98) is the most productive, Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Porter (1.39) the least.

In points against per minute, Robertson-VanLeer-Barnett-Puryear-Porter (1.23) is the stingiest, Geist-Robertson-VanLeer-Puryear-Tilmon (2.14) the most lenient.


If you want to look at the underlying research, you can access the overall numbers here and the current roster configuration numbers here.