Player positions

Here is a great article on basketball prospectus:

It basically discusses our notions on typical characteristics of a certain position and what we expect from them. A lot has always been said about players not being "real" big men or "real" point guards, but a though that has never been given discussion is, why do we need "real" big men or point guards? Is TWill a point guard? Where does he fit in?

So in thinking about lineups, why does it not make sense to put out what you need on the floor regardless of position instead of blindly adhering to antiquated notions about positions?


But what do you really need from a lineup?

On defense, you need to be able to guard your opponents. This means you have to be ready for speeds and heights of all kinds. You need to have a player capable of guarding each of the five traditional C-PF-SF-SG-PG positions. We’ll call the players capable of defending each position “D1” through “D5,” respectively, with speed/athleticism on the x-axis and height/strength on the y-axis:

And on offense what do you need to be successful? You need to be able to make shots (from the field or free throw line), avoid turnovers, and clean up the offensive glass--at the very least to the point where you aren’t handing over points by doing the opposite. This means that you need someone who can take care of the ball, someone who can put it in the basket, someone who can get the ball to that guy, and someone who can get the ball back when someone misses. We’ll call these four characters the Handler, the Scorer, the Creator, and the Rebounder.

So to see what we are getting from our players, let's fit them into these offensive and defensive archetypes. This is opinion and guesswork so don't spaz on me if you think differently, I'm being quite conservative with these classifications so I'm just inputting the "at least" factors into this. As in, I'm not sure if Farmar fits the mold of a scorer but he's at least a handler. 

Jordan Farmar - D1, Handler. Possible additions: Scorer? 

Derrick Favors - D4/D5, Rebounder

Devin Harris - D1, Handler/Creator/Scorer. Possible additions: D2?

Kris Humphries - D4, Scorer/Rebounder

Damion James - D2/D3, Scorer. Possible additions: D4? Rebounder? 

Courtney Lee - D2/D1, Scorer. Possible additions: D3?

Brook Lopez - D5, Scorer/Rebounder

Anthony Morrow - D2, Scorer

Travis Outlaw - D3, Scorer. Possible additions: D4?

Johan Petro - D5/D4, Rebounder

Quinton Ross - D2/D3, n/a

Ben Uzoh - D1, Handler

Terrence Williams - D2/D3, Handler/Creator/Rebounder. Possible additions: D1? Scorer?

Brian Zoubek - D5, Rebounder


Now these classifications still make lineups for some conventional lineups, because well, we have some pretty conventional players. But the point being here is that basketball is not a static game. A point guard will not always guard a point guard, Heck, in the a single possession a guy might end up guarding 3 different positions because of switches, very often in pick and rolls the smaller guy ends up defending the big man on the switch. 

So why can't we have a creator at the two spot and a scorer at the 1 spot instead of the traditional way where it's the other way around? Why can't Terrence Williams be a point guard on offense and a shooting guard on defense? Why can't Damion James be a power forward on offense (if you think the rebounder aspect applies to him as well) and be a small forward on defense? 

Let's forget about traditional positions and what we think they're supposed to do, and more importantly, let's not devalue players because they "don't fit the mold". 


Using their pre-draft camp sprint and agility measurements as my data points, I've constructed a similar chart for a few of our players

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