WINNING IN THE NBA: A HOW TO GUIDE
Part 1 of Many
Having Players Play Positions (yes, that sounds dumb)
**Disclaimer – I am not Denny Green.**
This is the first of what I hope to be several posts here at the Twolves Blog. If you are not familiar with my short body of work at "The Old Timberwolves Logo" blog, let me preface this post by stating that I am a die hard fan of this team. I use the term "die hard" in sense that I will not lose interest in the Wolves, but I also take a very realistic view on this team’s chances. In 2003-2004, I was optimistic, but satisfied in the product and effort. 2005-2007, I ranted and complained, because they not only lost, but they looked bad doing it and they failed to entertain. I also have invested a financial stake in season tickets, so I really reserve the right to complain. I will not rant much about this team’s records, but some common themes you will notice in my writings: lack of point guards, lack of making jump shots, poor shot selection, poor scheming and a certain "center" in general. Please email me at your convenience if you want my opinion on anything or if you just want to tell me I suck, whatever.
The main body of this article shoud appear after the jump, but I already screwed it up once as I learn the system and I’m sure it will happen again. This means please click the "Read More" to the right, I’m about as technologically advanced as Brooks in Shawshank.
As I am wont to do, this is a reaction to old news. On Friday, I noticed SG’s link to Jonathon Kaminsky’s article in the City Pages regarding Wittman’s view on the liquid nature of positions in the NBA. I have to go out on a sturdy limb and disagree with Witt’s stance.
The quotes in the aforementioned article from Witt include, "You’ve got wing guys and power guys." I was under the impression that you traditionally put a lineup on the floor that includes a point guard, a shooting guard, a small forward, a power forward and a center. I will concede that I participated in an offense in 6th grade that comprised of a guard, two wings, and two posts. I think the G2W2P system works a lot better when everyone is 12 years old and there’s only one guy, the "Puberty Monster" whose pituitary gland has given him the clear cut advantage over the other participants. Back to the main trail, the NBA does not have the myriad of positions contained in the Kama Sutra, but for historical success, you want to aim to have five.
Referencing success using a 5 position system and backing it up with Larry O’Brien Trophy evidence, there is only one argument against the classic 5-position system: the combination of the words "Michael Jordan" and "in his prime". When making any kind of basketball argument, one can usually have a fighting, if not winning hand, when pulling out the "Michael Jordan in his prime" card. Even then, it really only applies to the second Threepeat (copyright: Patrick James Riley).
To make my historical argument, I’m going to limit the discussion to my first year of earthly existence, 1980. Only 8 teams have won an NBA title since 1980, the Lakers, Celtics, 76ers (once), Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Spurs, and Heat (once). I would argue the Rockets and Heat would be wiped off that list if (a) Jordan had not done the baseball thing, and (b) if Tim Duncan’s foot was 100% against the Mavs in the Western Conference Semis in 2005-2006. Every one of these teams, save the Bulls, employed a starting lineup that included (a) a competent, if not Hall-of-Fame calibur point guard and (b) a competent, if not Hall-of-Fame calibur post-player. Aside from the competence/dominance at point guard, you can cruise each of the championship teams’ lineups (besides Bull’s second run) and easily identify what player played what position within that offense.
So I’m going to disagree with Witt’s positional assessment of today’s NBA and chalk it up to one of several excuses that can be used this season for possessing tons of balls in this year’s lottery (I’m certain there is a better way to word that…) and setting the record for most starting lineups on basketball-reference.com. Witt’s comments were also assumed to have included that Wings and Posts are in addition to point guards, which we still don’t have.
Did I mention that we don’t have any point guards?