Wake Forest’s basketball team is finally starting to come around, and live up to the potential that it showed preseason.
We’ve seen all of the lineups that coach Danny Manning has used thus far, and all of the strengths and weaknesses of individual players.
Thus far Manning’s preferred starting lineup has been Bryant Crawford at point guard, Mitchell Wilbekin at shooting guard, Chaundee Brown at small forward, Terrence Thompson at power forward, and Doral Moore at center.
While Thompson is a good “energy” player and a strong rebounder, he doesn’t necessarily fit Manning’s typical mold of a starting 4.
Danny Manning has shown a preference for having a stretch 4, who can step outside and knock down threes to give his center more room to operate in the post, in his starting lineup. Dinos Mitoglou filled this role the first three years of his tenure.
While Terrence Thompson doesn’t really fit this role, Donovan Mitchell does.
Mitchell is averaging 11.9 minutes per game, most of which are being played at the 4. He is averaging 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
Mitchell is shooting 64.7% from the field on 11-17 shooting. But he is a whopping 7-9 from three for a 77.8 3-point field goal percentage. This is all in only 83 total minutes played on the season.
At 6-8, 215 pounds, Mitchell would fit in perfectly at the starting power forward as the stretch 4 that Manning likes. And since Thompson is 6-7, 215 the Deacs wouldn’t be losing any height or weight in the post by inserting Mitchell into the lineup.
Mitchell also fits into the “positionless basketball” concept that Manning is looking to go towards with, having several players in the 6-5 to 6-9 range coming in next year.
Thompson would be better used as a guy who comes off the bench to provide energy, grab rebounds, and bang around in the post.
While we can't expect Mitchell to keep shooting at the same clip, he would certainly open up the post for Doral Moore, as opposing defenses would have to worry about him spreading the floor and knocking down some threes.
Mitchell’s one weakness is his foul tendency, as he struggles with picking up fouls, but if he can learn to limit those he can be a really effective starting stretch four for the Deacs.
Obviously I’m not Coach Manning, and he will continue to set the lineups, but starting Donovan Mitchell at the four is certainly worth thinking about.