About that Map of Positions

Rethinking the rethinking of players' roles in basketball (again).
Share |

The Alagappan Plan [Image via Gizmodo]

Muthu Alagappan's scatter-plot of new positional definition made its way to Deadspin (via Gizmodo) this weekend, after first rearing its head at the Sloan Conference. Drawing on the methods of biomechanical engineering, Alagappan groups today's NBA players according to function and, in some cases, sheer quality. We get several distinct clusters of "ball-handlers," as well as "role players" and "All-NBA"—not to mention the soaring catch-all of "one-of-a-kind."

This is the latest, and certainly the most rigorous attempt to change the way we think about positions by determining a new set of categories. In Alagappan's case, the categories are drawn from the real-life data at hand. Positions are derived inductively, according to the facts on the ground, rather than deductively assigned according to transcendent forms and archetypes.

The problem, as I see it, is that this reversal of poles runs the risk of very quickly collapsing on itself. It's unclear, for instance, when a new category is set to emerge if the ultimate authority here is real-life teams. The model, then, is only as good as the latest trends—still an impressive accomplishment, but one far more fleeting than any remotely fixed redefinition of position. The system has become its own point of reference, rather than appealing to codes or languages set down by years of supposedly inflexible tradition.

Once this happens, the system is free to contort and fragment itself however it sees fit. We’ve seen how this story goes in other realms of human inquiry: structuralism gives way to post-structuralism, where positions are defined only in reference to each other on a team-by-team, or possession-by-possession, basis. I was told once by a member of the Thunder organization that often, their players shift "position" several times over the course of a play. At that point, what exactly is the point of definition, much less labels that make sense across the sport?

Rob Mahoney directed our attention to the strange case of Tyreke Evans. Evans, the 2010 Rookie of the Year and once the future of the Sacramento Kings, has spent most of his career trying to learn how to play point guard (pure point guards and centers, whose roles have always been firmly conceptual, do a mighty good job of surviving any and all revisionism of the Old Ways), and instead, shown that he's some sort of combo guard (whatever that means—it changes constantly) to the death.

The Kings have tried pairing him with a variety of backcourt partners whose shooting or playmaking could make up for Evans's one-on-one mentality. But Evans remained the poor man’s point guard: dominating the ball, initiating the offense, and scoring like it wasn't an end in itself. Now, Evans has been moved over to small forward, but absolutely nothing has changed. As Mahoney puts it:

A player's nominal position often isn't always dictated by what he can or can't do, but by who he plays alongside. We've become so locked into the notion that basketball is a five-position enterprise that successful lineups simply have to feature one of each traditional position type.

Evans isn't an idea, he's a dude playing with some other dudes. It's all fine and good to try and search for absolute labels, or at least relatively stable ones, but when the Kings can make this kind of move and have it be news, it's pretty obvious that positions are almost entirely arbitrary. The success of a team isn't determined by whether or not they measure up, formula-wise, but whether their assemblage works, in an almost mechanical sense. Or—if you hate technology-speak—if these distinctive organisms can work together as a colony.

I used to be a positional relativist, with players’ roles determined by a set of responsibilities that had to be distributed across the roster. However, this now seems way too rigid, as it locates the possibility of unflinching order somewhere between a team's identity and the identity of the individual players—neither of which was supposed to slip or crumble. Now I would say I'm more of a positional anarchist, but not in the violent, liberal-arts-kids gone wild, sense. I'm thinking more of the utopian version of anarchism, where everyone is provided precisely through the rejection of overarching order or authority.  

If you look at the marvel that is this year's Heat, the team has learned harmony through each of the Big Three staking out territory and working together based on this division of space, not labor. Labor was what I once thought to be the basic currency of positions; it's what I imagined the Heat would revolutionize, and what manifested itself in such ugly ways when LeBron and Wade dourly traded possessions, or quarters, last season. Instead, it's about giving players room to operate, and then piecing together a viable community out of this. It's what I thought the Knicks should have been able to do with Carmelo, Lin, and D'Antoni; it's the only coherent way to understand an OKC team lambasted for its lack of an offensive system but which apparently thinks about position in an extremely sophisticated way.

Maybe this only holds true for the best players, the "All-NBA" and "one-of-a-kind" creatures on Alagappan's map. Still, I want to believe that less, not more, complexity is the only way to adequately let players do what they do best while still allowing a team to go about the business of winning basketball games.  


Share |

Comments

Friend, this web site might be fabolous, i just like it. Learn More

Stunning, cool post. I'd like to compose like this as well – requiring significant investment and genuine diligent work to make an incredible article… yet I put things off an excess of and never appear to begin. Much appreciated however. Read More Here

I cherish the way you compose and share your specialty! Extremely intriguing and diverse! Keep it coming! Milwaukee HVAC experts

do a mighty good job of surviving any and all revisionism of the Old Ways), and instead, shown that he's some sort of combo guard (whatever that means—it changes constantly) to the death.download minecraft free pc |
psn gift card code generator no survey

It provides all types of predictions at the time of child birth, shifting of home, marriage life, starting a business and many more voyance magie

If you person a website and you do not have respectable high diplomatist rank websites with links on those sites pointing to your website then you could potentially lose out on gaining Google's consortium / sanction for your website. seo packages

Thanks for compiling such nicest information in your blogs. Articles are very informative and hope again I’ll find more like that.
paper helper

Even though the site is brand new, they already offer some of the newest games on the market, such as Warlords: Crystals of Power. Fable Casino Review

There exists a direct correlation between number of ads on a webpage and the apparent ad clutter. The opinion of the user that there are too many ads on the webpage constitute the apparent ad clutter. banner advertising

Compressors are not time based, they are dynamic processors that work directly on a signal. That’s why you should usually use them as inserts. useful source

You will not need to hunt Google to find out how to get rid of cellulite on back of thighs because the best solution is right with you

pleasant post, stay aware of this intriguing work. It truly regards realize that this point is being secured additionally on this site so cheers for setting aside time to talk about this! หนัง AV

If you are boarding your cruise in Stockholm, I would strongly advise you to carry your cruise line's Stockholm contact information and reconfirm the ship's location before leaving your hotel to board the ship. It is not uncommon for pier changes to be made due to traffic. free tour Stockholm

in the case of debates approximately software patents outside america, the argument has been made that huge American businesses and patent attorneys are probably to be the primary beneficiaries of allowing or keep to allow software patents. download keygens

Tube fryers are often a little less expensive than their open fry pot counterparts. Open fry pots have an external heat source, Andreas

I am happy you take pride in what you compose. This makes you stand way out from numerous different authors that push ineffectively composed substance. Read More Here

Incredible review, I am a major adherent to remarking on online journals to illuminate the web journal essayists realize that they've added something beneficial to the internet!.. Discover More Here

Much obliged for sharing the data, keep doing awesome... I truly delighted in investigating your site. great asset... royal ace google play

Thanks for sharing nice information with us. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, I would like to bookmark the page so I can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. directory

This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post.! http://www.lingex.ru/

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work directory

However, it varies on the quality of followers and the quantity you order… You should not think that the cheapest is the best choice, especially when buying SC Plays followers. buyscplays5

Replica Louis Vuitton Website. Here, it's worked in a muted color palette, but experiment with your favorite colours lo create your own unique version. fake handbags

According to VentureBeat, Google does not allow any real-money gambling apps on its Google Play Store. Click here

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. คลิปโป๊ฟรี

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free Dofollow Blog Comments

Much obliged to you for another incredible article. Where else would anyone be able to get that sort of data in such an impeccable method for composing? I have a presentation one week from now, and I am on the search for such data. Milwaukee Roof

It ended up being Very useful to me and I am certain to every one of the pundits here! Roofing

Fall fashion is Your favorite. you can bookmark bagsky.ru and shop here again and again. We provide wholesale cheap replica bags online to satisfy your craving for expensive brand name bags , wallets at prices you can afford. fake handbags

I'm certainly very happy to read this blog site posts which carries plenty of helpful data, thanks for providing such information.cloud software

My son was very uncomfortable because of the same problem then we started taking guidance by them and now he feels much relaxed than ever before!black7poker

I even have been gifted for hours and I haven't suffered such awesome stuff.
women

Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. 100% Manually, So your site is safe you can get all HQ links, that definitely increase your SERPs. 20 High Quality Backlinks gig Only for fiverr members just for 5$ WOww...high trust flow backlinks

Miraculous blog site!! I would surely bookmark this site and every day I’ll get more and more latest information.
Chris Walker - SEO consultant Denver

I feel happiness to read the content that you are posting.

click here

Smart post buddy! I will make the most of this information and spread it amongst my friends too!
women

Nice efforts that are truly appreciated. This will also help the new people who have crave of learning.
do my essay

I’m reading the stuff of your site continuously n I have got really a lot of the things that’s very important. You have put the great effort here.
Chris Walker - top SEO company

Your articles are more than wow! And also the best way to make understand the things mentioned in it.
Chris Walker - SEO company

Just saying thanks wouldn’t just be enough, for the fantastic fluency in your writing.

SFCC Global

Buy backlinks I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post Dofollow Blog Comments

This post is really valuable that designed for the new visitors. Pleasing work, keep on writing.

go to this site

Your composing is purely awe-inspiring that I desired to read such high quality material...

calgary naturopathic doctors

Hi I was searching for the blogs for many times, now I have reached at the right place.
wwweasyonlineloancom

It’s an outstanding article in favor of all the web guests; they will get benefit from it I am confident.
car insurance in colorado versus utah

This is exceptionally instructive substance and composed well for a change. It's pleasant to see that a few individuals still see how to compose a quality post! girlsdoporn

I would like to thank the developers of this remarkable website and to provide us the comfortability for earning after using it! I am feeling much more relaxed than before!concrete contractors Sacramento

Quickly this site will indisputably be famous among all blogging people, because of its fastidious articles or reviews. IHT relief

It’s really such nice information to get advantage from.how to buy a computer

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site agen judi terpercaya