This song is actually a sonic response to the thought-experiment that is the Z-graphs. A brief recap:

1. As a response to Westbrook, Iverson, and Odom, the Z-graph emerges from the mist to suggest a new way to represent/conceive of positional roles.

2. Tom and I revise the model, fixing some problems while causing some new ones. Though for what this is supposed to show—continuous vs. discontinuous modes of positionality—this one works a lot better.

3. Reader Greg K. blows everyone's mind by showing how the Z's can illustrate a team dynamic. Click to enlarge.


Perhaps even more notably, FD originator Shoefly (he wrote the original petition), penned a truly momentous meditation on Iverson and boxing on his side project Boxiana. An excerpt:

Personally my feelings about Iverson have never been constrained by any team, or game, or victory paradigm, but more on a moral, religious level. His is a will to overcoming that has long left me with the feeling that, had things been different, he might very well have been the modern day Ray Robinson, all the tools and spirit to be a welter and middleweight destroyer. There is something about what he has done, that, like a great boxer just past his prime, makes one hope he steps away, so that his will can be preserved, perhaps as a gentleman farmer, world traveler, and a collector of orchids.

You would do well to read this one, even if I am slightly salty that he didn't even tell me it had happened.

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At 4/08/2009 1:07 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

Much props to Greg K. for the combination effort, but would a presentation where all the Z's sort of first inside each other like a wacky basketball Russian Matryoska doll perhaps work a little better? I will try to pull together some visual evidence.

And also, with Iverson now in Detroit how can there be such little recognition of the, albeit imperfect, Sanders parallel?

At 4/08/2009 1:39 PM, Blogger Jacob said...

You should post some songs off My Morning Jacket's 'Z.' Or just make it the official soundtrack.

At 4/08/2009 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now you come with Theodorakis, a symbol of the struggle against the Greek junda.

I am only nitpicking here, but i have some reservations about Lebron's Z, i mean before he gets the 3's and the post scoring he should at least show some stability in either, but really everyone is bound to have disagreement over a particular player.

The main thing: you have elevated your game to another level, these past 3 posts have been beyong mindblowing.

At 4/08/2009 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think. We need. A book.

At 4/08/2009 4:33 PM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

I still feel like the Z-index, while wonderfully mind-blowing, is riddled with problems. I don't see how "low TOs" is a trait more identifiable with a good big man than with a good wing or point guard - some of the fumble-fingeriest players in the entire NBA are bigs, and nowhere is ball security more valued than at the PG position. And "FG%" is equally desirable at every position: if a guy shoots 32% from the floor, nobody's going, "It's alright, he's a shooting guard!"

Still, I love the idea. It just needs a ton of refinement. I'd suggest leaving "low TOs" and "fg%" off altogether, because a player who makes few turnovers and shoots a high percentage is just a Good Basketball Player, no matter where he plays. And I sorta feel like it should be a "C" shape, with PG at one end and center at the other. Think of it as a blasted-open triangle that only Anthony Randolph and The Ghost Of The Lamar Odom That Never Was can make whole again.

At 4/08/2009 4:35 PM, Blogger david said...

Forget a book. What you need is a Flash-driven interactive that, based on statistical ranges that provide the basis for most of these categories (and subjective rankings you could input for the others), automatically generates a) a Z chart for every individual player currently in the NBA b) allows you to compare individual players or c) assemble groups -- or teams -- of them together. Given that you're talking about five starters per NBA team the data set for this would actually be relatively small.

At 4/08/2009 8:26 PM, Blogger Allen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4/09/2009 4:59 AM, Blogger Nick said...

verrry nifty stuff!

since the z chart is a celebration of the basketball freak, now if you could just come up with a way to signify on "z-scores"....

"free darko: setting the standard in deviance since 2009"!

verification: "Atolar"=towering Euro post presence...

At 4/09/2009 9:59 AM, Blogger J Rock said...

These Z charts are beautiful. But, I have a few suggestions.

Like others have said, move 'Low TO's' to the PG/SG axis.

Add 'Draws Fouls' to the SG/PF axis.

Add 'Flops' and 'Commits Fouls' to the PF/C axis.

So, there would be 6 on each axis. Six-six-six, for such an unholy idea.

Use the color yellow for each player's subjective best skill. A player like LeBron would have a couple.

Overlap individual charts to create team charts. Make each same color that overlaps a shade darker. Mix unlike colors to create purple, orange, and green hues.

Keep up the good work.

At 4/09/2009 10:04 AM, Blogger J Rock said...

Or, the color yellow for their objective best skill. I'm not sure if these charts are stat based or impressionistic.

At 4/09/2009 11:19 AM, Blogger wondahbap said...

I understand if Ziller likes the "Z" for the obvious reasons, but something tells me the Z-Index might be perfect as the sideways 8 symbol for Infinity. The lemniscate.


Offensive traits on one side, defensive on the other, and leadership in the middle. The "Infinite" Index.

What do you think?

At 4/09/2009 11:41 AM, Blogger Jon L said...

This isn't my call, obviously, but I think the "low TOs" makes sense for big men vs. point guards. Low turnovers are obviously optimal for any position, but you can get by in the league as a point guard if you have a slight turnover problem. You probably won't be a star, but you can get by.

If you're a center, though, and can't hold onto the ball and are forever knocking passes out of bounds, you're headed to the D-League (Etan Thomas being the exception that proves the rule).

At 4/09/2009 11:43 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"Running offense" is meant to account for that. Like, you can't really run an offense if you turn the ball over too much, but have to soemtimes. On the other hand, TO's are an important distinction between two classes of big men, like the pure BIG DUDE THAT ROCKS vs. players with more SF-ish traits.

At 4/09/2009 12:25 PM, Blogger wondahbap said...

Jon L,

You forgot about Kwame.

At 4/09/2009 5:19 PM, Blogger joseph said...

Chiming in with satisfaction with where the low TOs are since this seems contentious. For what it's worth, the way i think about it is that what you traditionally expect from a big should not come at the cost of high turnovers. On the other hand, even if we want our high assists guy to have low turnovers (all else equal) we are more willing to except this as a potential cost.

I haven't watched many Raptor games but i remember people were arguing that Calderon was too worried about turning the ball over - the benefits of a style with higher TOs would outweigh the cost. I can't imagine we'd ever say this about a center.

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