It is still very early in Fred Hoiberg's reign, and you can see that he is open to the idea of seeing what works out there and what doesn't.
Hoiberg made a bunch of interesting lineup decisions last night. Let's evaluate them:
Snell vs. McDermott
Last night, Hoiberg pulled Tony Snell out of the starting lineup in favor of Doug McDermott. Snell had started all 5 previous games and was averaging 26.4 mpg but he only played 10.8 minutes in last night's contest.
It was evident early on that starting McDermott was not working. The Thunder opened the game with hot shooting and amassed a 9 point lead before he came out. McDermott didn't contribute anything on the offensive end, and that Pau/Niko/McDermott defensive line wasn't scaring anyone.
Snell might be in the doghouse again, but this seemed to be more a matchup move than anything else. Hoiberg told TNT at halftime that he was reticent to put Snell on Durant, keeping Butler locked in on him for all but a few possessions. Butler played 38 minutes in this game, so some of Snell's normal SF minutes went to him.
If Snell sits again for big portions of the game on Saturday though, this may be more of a sign that Hoiberg is beginning to lose some faith in him.
Moore First Guard Off the Bench
It looks like E'Twaun Moore may have eclipsed Aaron Brooks as the first PG off the bench. Moore played 22 minutes to Brooks' 13. Moore didn't score, but he was a +7 and played great defense on Russell Westbrook.
Big Man Pairings
Hoiberg continues to play around with the bigs a lot. He played Gasol and Noah for substantial minutes with some pretty good success. That's a combo he had avoided altogether in games 2, 3, and 4 of the season.
Here's an update on how all of those big pairings are doing:
The most noteworthy thing here is that while they had a promising start to the season, the primary duo of Gasol/Mirotic has dropped to a negative net rating.
Noah/Mirotic remains one of the most promising pairings, yet one we have barely seen. This is consistent with last year's stats as well. There must be something in practice that Coach Hoiberg and Thibodeau are seeing in practice that we aren't, because that combo makes some of the most sense intuitively and statistically but they rarely play together.
Big Minutes for Rose
Prior to this game, Rose had mentioned a goal of getting his conditioning up. He had no preseason and couldn't exercise during the initial stages of his recovery from eye surgery, so Hoiberg had limited his minutes to a little under 31 per game.
Rose played 38 huge minutes in this one though and saved his best for last, scoring 12 fourth quarter points including 10 of the team's 14 points in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the game.