[A great look at how the Hornets' roster could play out on the court. And if you missed it, check out MrWayneKeller's take on the Robin Lopez trade as well. - R]
In the younger years of the game, there was a certain hierarchy that must be followed in order for a team to "succeed". They are what we call positions. A typical play back in the day goes like this - inbounds pass to the "PG", who makes the 1st pass to one of the "swingmen", and when possible, pass the ball to the "big man" who's worked himself into good position in the paint. If not, the ball continues to be passed around in the perimeter between the PG, SG and SF until someone takes a (hopefully) decent shot; Not in today's NBA. With the latest trade by the Hornets (still lots of confusion), the new NBA is slowly being ushered in.
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE 5
It's long been maintained that there are 5 positions in the league namely: PG, SG, SF, PF, C. Each position has certain stereotypes it must follow:
PG: 6'0~6'3" in height, receives and makes the 1st pass, runs the offense by distributing the ball.
SG:6'4"~6'6" in height, receives the ball on the perimeter, uses a play to create points from the perimeter (either a jumpshot or a drive)
SF:6'7'~6'8" in height, can receive the ball on the perimeter, typically uses a possession from the perimeter, but can also operate inside.
PF:6'9"~6'10" in height, receives the ball in the paint, but has some perimeter skills to speak of to attack the post via faceup.
C:6'10"~7'0" in height, receives the ball exclusively in the paint, uses strength and power in post to score buckets.
Each position must defend their counterpart position (PG to PG, SG to SG, etc..)
Those are the stereotypes that once existed. But as the game evolved and progressed, the number of unconventional "positions" increased. There were just a few of them back in the day - Magic, Barkley, Cowens, Frazier - just to name a few. I cannot claim the accuracy of that statement since I never truly watched the NBA until 2001. Pre 2001, I only knew 2 NBA teams (CHI, UTH) and followed just one (CHI). Convention comes from history. Something doesn't become a convention if it's not done on a day-to-day basis (or in the case of basketball, a game-to-game basis). So if we assume that convention comes from history, and the convention is that of a team made up of 5 positions, then it's not stupid to assume that teams believed in the 5 position approach back in the day.
Fast forward to 2012, and the list of unconventional players have grown exponentially with the list of unconventional players that actually contribute to their teams win are increasing. Here is a list of unconventional players in today's NBA:
- Rose, Westbrook, Parker, Lawson, Holiday, Jennings, Wall as scoring or attacking PGs
- Millsap, Blair, Bass, Brand, Hansbrough, Maxiell, Haslem, Faried as undersized PFs
- Love, Anderson, Frye, Novak, Bargnani, Dirk, West, Bosh, Bonner as PFs/Cs employed as spacers (instead of paint gobblers)
- a branch of guards we call "combo" guards - which is an amalgam between a PG and a SG.
Lebron as another 6'8" PGSomebody as a 6'8" PG
Those are just some of the unconventional positions currently existing in the NBA. There are also new unconventional things like cross matching like the Terry/Kidd combo in DAL (one plays SG on but as a PG on D, the other's vice versa) or the Blair/Duncan combo (one plays PF on O but a C on D, the other's vice versa) or the Amare/Frye combo (the smaller guy played C, the taller guy played PF), or the advent of post playing swingmen (Billups, Kobe, Johnson, Wade) and many other more.
With the latest trade (do not know if this is actually final but reports seem to indicate it is so) for RoLo, the Hornets have just paved the way for an entire team of unconventionality. Robin Lopez is a typical C - a 7'0" ft banger who likes to gobble up space in the paint, so how does this help pave the way for the new NBA?
WHEN DID IT START?
The movement of the Hornets as an unconventional team started with the CP3 trade (
not the vetoed CP3 trade). In that trade, NO received 2 unconventional players - a combo guard and a undersized "PF" (I still maintain that Aminu plays like a 4). Before that, NO had just 3 unconventional players on its roster - a 7'0" jumpshooter, 6'8" post player and a 6'3" combo guard. Today? NO employs a total of 8 unconventional players (possibly 9 if Davis is employed as a skinny C). EJ as an undersized "SG", Vasquez as an oversized "PG", Rivers as an attacking "PG", Aminu & Lance as undersized "PFs", Anderson and Smith as jumpshooting "PF" and "C", Henry as an undersized "SF" (height wise). So again, I ask the question, how does the trade for a conventional "C" stamp us as a team chuck full of unconventional?
Because FroLo (as he'll be hence forth be called by moi) allows the Hornets to employ more unconventional lineups (to go along with the "undersized" Warrick). Here are some of the combination of players that can play for the Hornets:
- choose 1-3 from the following group - Vasquez, Gordon, Rivers, Henry, Miller (just make sure one of Vasquez/Gordon/Rivers is on the court).
- choose 2-4 depending on how many you take from group 1 - Aminu, Lance, Anderson, Davis, Smith, Warrick, FroLo.
So the Hornets could employ a "standard" lineup of Vasquez (who's still an oversized "PG") | Rivers | Miller | Davis | FroLo or employ the wackiest lineup such as Gordon | Aminu | Anderson | Davis | FroLo (which I can actually see happening). The biggest impact of FroLo on the Hornets is the ability to employ an undersized "PF" to be a slow "SF" because you know that with Monty's defensive system, and Davis and FroLo (not to mention Aminu if we take our wackiest lineups) as players who can flank said slow SF. That Gordon | Aminu | Anderson | Davis | FroLo can be employed on a team, say like, the Lakers - with Gordon guarding Nash, Aminu guarding Kobe, Anderson guarding MWP, Davis guarding Gasol, FroLo guarding Bynum, or with a team such as MIA - Gordon guards Wade, Aminu guards LBJ, Davis guards Bosh, Anderson guards Battier (and the 5th player for the Hornets matched up with the 5th player for MIA, whether that's Chalmers, Haslem, Allen, Lewis or whoever).
Many teams have employed unconventional players in their teams, but not to the degree that NO will probably employ in the NBA (maybe MIA just because they have a freaking 6'8" "PG"). Here is a list of teams that might employ unconventional players on a regular basis (meaning they are part of the regular rotation) with corresponding number of said players.
Atlantic - BOS (5), BKN (5), NYK(1), PHI(5), TOR (2)
Central - CHI (1 and he'll probably be injured), CLE (2), DET (3), IND (2), MIL (3)
Southeast - ATL (5), MIA (another team with unconventional written all over it, 10), ORL (3 if team stays the same i.e. no Howard trade,
wait that's not possible), WAS (4), CHA (4)
Southwest - DAL (4), HOU (3), MEM (2), SAS (another unconventional team, 6 but it can go as high as 9)
Northwest - DEN (5), MIN (3), POR (4), OKC (4), UTH (4)
Pacific - GS (3), LAC (4), LAL (1), PHO (3), SAC (4)
In the new NBA, plays are run to create mismatches and defenses are setup to limit these mismatches. With how our team can have mismatches all over the place offensively, Monty's options on play calling are numerous. Add that with Monty's understanding of how a defense must be setup (to limit mismatches), even with such an unconventional lineup, and you have a recipe for a plethora of options.
In the new NBA, it's not about how positions fit but how skill sets fit. The idea is to have as many options as you can on both offense and defense. With teams slowly moving towards this, NOH's headstart will help immensely in achieving the ultimate goal in the NBA - sustained success. How that success is defined is up to the team on a year-to-year basis. With Davis and Gordon in the fold, hopefully, the last success indicator that NOH will strive for is a Larry O'Brien championship.
Bloggers have alluded to this idea for the longest time, maybe we actually do a good job in our blogging (I think a bloggers job is to inform the widest audience on a specific topic. Yes?), maybe NOH's FO do read Hornets blog, maybe some day Demps will read this post. If so, GOOD JOB! and maybe you can throw me a bone and hire me. *GRINS* Hasta la Vista, baby