I’ve been working on a little piece about positioning in the NBA. It’s not finished, but the more I test it out, the more it seems to be working at some point. Analyzing stats, physique, ability and stats can be hard work and often show only the slightest results, as we all know; the game is not played on paper. But still I would like to run the Bobcats through the same analysis regarding how deep and or versatile we are or are getting.
The way I will analyze it is based on a theory that there are 5 spots on a basketball court, with 15 positions to play. 1 through 5 each has 3 types of positions, mostly determined by size, mobility, skill, quickness and playing type. As we all know, size doesn’t matter always, but overall it has an effect on the following three assets. So there are exceptions, where smaller players can play big and vice versa, but every exception has its rule, and this is the rule.
QG. Quick Guard. Just because of their small size are usually quicker than bigger point guards, and often create matchup problems in the open court, though often come up short defending bigger guards. Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson, Kyle Lowry, our very own Kemba Walker and the star of the league Chris Paul. (QGs are point guards too, but are simply smaller and quicker. At this position; size is what determines it most. The rule says 6’1 or smaller).
PG. True Point guard. The traditional point guard, range from about 6’1-6’4. The players in this category are determined by their style of play, right after their height. Players like Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo (makes up for height with length), Derron Williams and Derrick Rose.
CG. The combination guard. Just before draft day, the word “combo guard”, is usually the main reason for chills and nervous breakdowns for fans, but when I say combination guard, I don’t mean O.J. Mayo or Eric Gordon. I mean Stephen Curry, good point guards with size and shooting touch to play some 2 which is why these types of players are solid at the 1. It’s usually just because they are big and have the shooters touch to play some 2 in small lineups.
2G. Two Guard. Now this is what you thought a combo guard was. The two guard is actually just a shooting guard with OK ball handling skills, who can run the point to some extent when called upon. This is where the O.J Mayo’s and Eric Gordon’s land. They are a bit undersized for the two spot, but simply not good enough point guards to start the 1. In O.J. and Gordon’s case they can both make up for size with either defense or offense. Another player to land here is All-Star Dwyane Wade. He definitely has the talent to play the 1, but is an all-star caliber scorer, which is mainly the reason he landed at the two.
SG. Classic shooting guards. Ray Allen comes to mind. The perfectly sized 6’5 catch and shoot three point master. Wes Matthews, James Harden. Not really there to facilitate more than that, just shoot the ball, or defend the other shooter. A SHOOTING GUARD, it’s pretty simple so I won’t go deeper into that.
GF. Guard Forward. This position differs from a Swingman, because this player plays the 2 in the ideal lineup. A lengthy shooting guard, often with just enough strength and versatility on defense to guard the opposing 3. A guy that comes to mind is Andre Iguodala. He is indeed an effective 3 for the Sixers. But if the Sixers had a true Small Forward like Danny Granger or Rudy Gay, the ideal position for Iggy would be at the two. He can defend smaller and bigger players, and being 6’6 he would bring size and matchup problems to the opposing 2, especially if they run a 2G at their 2 spot. Kobe is also this type of player to a smaller extent, spends most of his time at the 2 because he doesn’t bother to play defense. But he can definitely run the 3. Like maybe the most famous Guard Forward in the history of the game. Michael Jordan. Not a 3, a 2 who can play 3 because he is just that good.
SW. Swingman. Here is the difference. A GF is a guard who can play forward, while a swingman is a forward who can play guard. Joe Johnson, Stephen Jackson, T-Mac(Houston days), Paul Pierce and so on. Usually determined by their quickness, mobility and shooting touch. These guys provide serious matchup problems when put at the 2, but should play 3 because of their size and ability to defend opposing 3.
SF. Classical small forwards, don’t have to be masters of one craft, but definitely should chip in on the scoreboard in every category. True small forwards are the likes of Rudy Gay, Danny Granger and young Blazer Nic Batum.
F. Forward. Simply a forward. Not really a that much of a four because a forward is definitely the most effective at the 3. LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are considered the best Small Forwards in the league, but thanks to size and versatility we can see them play the 4 spot often. KD’s length, LeBron and Carmelo’s strength all three are excellent at both positions, though most effective at the 3.
CM. Cornerman. This is a rare position but very useful. Has faded in modern times, but like the cornerman style of play, the cornerman position is much the same. They are big forwards with good strokes, ability to stretch the floor and move, as well as guarding the opposing power forward. Antawn Jamison and Al Harrington are the perfect examples. Earlier in Jamison’s career, he was able to play the three on occasion, but since he was so big, he became a floor stretching 4. Who comes to mind now, is the all-star Kevin Love. Not a classical Power Forward, though very much could be, because he has the three point stroke of a guard. He is a floor stretcher, which in his case is extremely dangerous, since that’s not the only thing he does at the 4, being a rebound machine.
PF. The POWER forward. Though Kevin Love is considered maybe the best 4 in the league, he can’t be compared to the true power forwards. Back when Malone reigned, he determined what a power forward should be. FRICKIN POWERFUL INSIDE. The perfect example would be the young all-star Blake Griffin. Perfect size, athleticism, BIG and powerful with authority!
FC. The Forward Center. Al Horford is a forward center. Only played 5 because Atlanta Hawks has Josh Smith at the four. He is definitely a good center, but he would be a much more effective four, since with the absence of a couple of inches, has the size of a true center, he still has a good stroke and skill to be a great great power forward. Guys like our own Bismack is that type of player. Because he is able to defend bigger players he is a useful center, but he simply would be better at the four because he can provide extreme length and defense on smaller players at the four, instead of just being adequate at the 5. You simply would rather have a bigger guy in at center in your ideal lineup, so instead of labeling them centers, they become forward centers, forwards who can play center, not Centers who can play forward. A guy who’s worth mentioning is LaMarcus Aldridge; definitely a four, but skill and size to play some 5.
CF. Here is your Pau Gasols and Tim Duncans. Tim was primarily a four through his career, but with age, he has become a little less agile to play 4 at 100 percent. They are long and good enough inside to play the 5, but also skilled and mobile enough to bring tough match-ups at the 4. Both could start at center on any team, but If you have an Andrew Bynum, they become 4’s with ease. Centers who can play forward, not forwards who play center.
C. True centers. The defenders and dunkers like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. Big strong rebounders and post players. One can argue that there are good offensive centers, but a center that can’t play defense, rarely gets all-star nods, or starter minutes on a team. You all know what I mean when I say TRUE center.
TC. Tall Centers. They are just that; taller than everyone else. Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert and Marc Gasol. Not necessarily as strong as their smaller true centers, but their length makes up for it. These guys are often either great defenders, rebounders or good offensive players. Usually all three when at these players caliber.
So I know u can dissect all of these 15 positions into 75 playing styles, then combine them with other positions and come up with player styles. It’s really just a way to classify things, like animals.. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order etc. But this is simply the first step. (feel free to take more).
So after explaining this, I run our roster through this form and see what we get.
From our guards to our big men.
Kemba Walker 6’1 Definitely swift and quick. He’s a quick guard.
Ramon Sessions 6’3 True Point guard, from size to style.
Ben Gordon 6’3 The shooting guard, who can run the point at times. 2G.
Gerald Henderson 6’5 As much of a true Shooting Guard as they get.
Reggie Williams 6’6 A guard, with size and length to play some 3 on occasion.
Jeffery Taylor 6’7 Typical Swingman. A 3 with quickness and stroke like 2’s.
Mike Kidd-Gilchrist 6’7.75 Perfect size for a 3, does a little of everything. He’s a SF.
Tyrus Thomas 6’10 Definitely a power forward who lost some power last season.
Bismack Biyombo 6’9 Forward Center, what more is there to say.
Byron Mullens 7’0 Center Forward, I’ve explained this.
Brendan Haywood 7’0 Just a true center, though and old one.
DeSagana Diop 7’0 He is really just an expensive contract, but a C none the less.
So.. A balanced team, should have depth, versatility and talent. Our backcourt is stacked, it has all three. We fill 5 of the six positions with that lineup. And it consists of a mix of actual talent, potential, experience and versatility. With our backcourt we have endless combinations to run this season, I don’t really see a huge hole anywhere. Inexperience can be a problem at the 3, since the only guys on our roster who can play the 3 are two rookies in Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor. They both have potential, and if Reggie fills in some to help them rest, I think they will do an honest job. Taylor and Kidd-Gilchrist are very different types of player with one thing in common; defense. That IS a good sign, though inexperience is a lack, potential and versatility at the three definitely fills a small piece of that hole. Our problem occurs as usual amongst the big men. We acquired Brendan Haywood off waivers, but he is still the only true center that will or could play. We don’t have any 3-4 tweeners and we lack a good corner man. At PF we have our Tyrus Thomas, though he lost some weight last year and became utterly useless on the offensive end. He can still provide a highlight block every now and then, but other than that, not much. Then we have our FC in Bismack, who in my opinion should be utilized at the 4 position. Though the lack of centers will be a problem, and we will see him at the 5 a lot. Then our CF in Byron Mullens, somewhat of a floor stretcher, not a lot of muscle or athleticism, but if moved to the four, can provide good matchup problems. He is still just a role player, but we don’t have much option really. So our frontcourt looks a bit thin. With most likely Haywood at the 5, backed up by Biz or Mully, then maybe Biz or Mully starting the four with tyrus coming off the bench. We are definitely a couple of strong big men short, and with D.J. White not here, we simply traded an ok forward with Haywood. We would be wise to bring him back now that free agency is wearing thin. (Speights maybe?).
So regarding how deep or versatile our roster is:
QG Kemba Walker 6’0
PG Ramon Sessions 6’3
2G Ben Gordon 6’3
SG Gerald Henderson 6’5
GF Reggie Williams 6’6
SW Jeffery Taylor 6’7
SF Mike Kidd-Gilchrist 6’8
PF Tyrus Thomas 6’10
FC Bismack Biyombo 6’9
CF Byron Mullens 7’0
C Brendan Haywood 7’0
(Diop is not significant enough to be mentioned.)
From the 1-3 we look pretty versatile. Offensive and defensive players, 3pt threats, rebounders etc.
But at the forward and center positions, not so much. I like to think in an ideal world, a team would be built up by 3 players to play each position mainly. At each position, one starter, one backup and a bench player in case of weariness, or injury. For instance we have a good Shooting guard squad in Hendo, Gordon and Williams. Each bring their different games to the table. Hendo is no doubt the best overall player, but doesn’t have the natural 3pt and scorers mentality Ben Gordon possess. Ben Gordon is also a better ball handler. Reggie Williams brings some of the length the two other players lack, he is also an ok 3pt shooter and is a southpaw. Good rotation at the two with Hendo starting, Gordon coming off the bench, and Williams to scrap up the left over minutes. At the four other positions we are lacking a piece in different places. We could use another true center to play scrap minutes, hoping of course that Gana never plays again, unless he has been working out secretly and holding back his talent until now. We could also use another versatile and big forward to play some ¾. Then ofc. Another big forward who can hustle at the 4 spot ( I WAS SO HOPING FOR JAMISON ). But as far as versatility goes, it seems the bobcats are trying to do just that. We have NO similar players in either size or style yet, which can be good and bad. What it means, is that coach can run a bunch of different lineups. But what it can also mean, is that he will do just that, another year experimenting.
In my opinion it’s great having this much versatility, but it has to be managed right. But having a “tweener” team where coaches have a hard time figuring out the starting lineup can do us very bad. Remember how much talent the Timberwolves has had the last two years, where the only guy to start most of those games was Kevin Love. I hope we can establish our starters early, so that the other players can complement our system instead of making it a mess and confusing ourselves. A mixture of vets, young players, starters and role players with different sizes and attributes is usually a good recipe, but as in any good dish, you have a lot of different ingredients, but picking your main ingredients and complimenting those with the right dosage determines whether or not the dish will be a success or a mess… Let’s hope this can be done, and let’s hope we find the right dosage of players/minutes to compliment our main crew.