You've Been Scared

First, the widget: I think I've finally quit for good, which has me returning to Cigarettes Are Sublime and its effort to get at what, beyond tobacco, makes smoking great; Miike's remake of Graveyard of Honor is one of the few DVD's I own, and I find it as moving in its own way as The Wolves; since I'm going to see Leonard Cohen later this month, I've decided to conclude that New Skin for the Old Ceremony, which I listened to on repeat the only time I wrote a short story; a couple years back, Dr. LIC and myself randomly found out we were both huge fans of Israel Rabon's ultra-bleak The Street, about a homeless Jewish soldier in 1920's Poland; Charles Shaar Murray's Crosstown Traffic is like Greil Marcus if he actually liked music; I'm routinely amazed at how many people, myself included, have long been in the dark about Playing for Keeps, Halberstam's long-ass Jordan bio.

At many times in many hours, we have brought forth the notion of a Positional Revolution. These have been near-utopian ideals, which mostly involve either an entire team structuring itself around a single, atypical player (or as a series of interdependent roles that buck convention), or a bunch of do-it-all weirdos whose contributions shift from possession to possession. Old news for anyone who has read this blog before this year, which has been remarkably devoid of advances on that front.

That is, until about a week ago. That's when the Thunder signed Shaun Livingston, I remembered they had Thabo, and I started to wonder, what becometh of Russell Westbrook? You want to talk about Rondo as a PG lacking in jump shot? Westbrook is the point equivalent of a dirty bomb. He's so unpredictable, and riotously imperfect, that you really have to wonder how teams scouting him managed to keep any stable future hologram in front of them while taking their notes. It's not just that he lacks position, but that he undermines, even threatens, the stability of those around him.

No, this isn't that same old combo-itis again, or the curse of the tweener. I think it's pretty much established that this cliche, conservative as it may be, rings damningly true except in the case of certain active backcourts where two guards overstep their bounds just enough to mesh (this year, it's Williams/West). I see Westbrook as too unstable, divergent, and fundamentally bugged-out to fit into that synergistic relationship; to a lesser extent, I think this applies to Jerryd Bayless, which is why I tried to get Golliver to ask Pritchard just what they saw in Bayless. Did they think of him vis a vis a template, and worry about his imperfections, his tweener-nes, or see him as a singularity that would really put some balls back in "best available. "Best available" as a way forward, not a cop-out. FYI, that's kind of what I think the Thunder are doing, and I applaud them for it.


Yet so far, all thinking along these lines has been in the context of a system. The redemption of such players comes when, organically, they fit into a plan. They are, in some sense, without form until they fit. Or, no matter how sympathetically, they're bent and warped slightly to work well within whatever normal, or abnormal, system they've been cast in. They could be tweeners well-coached, multi-purpose threats, or guys responsibly down for whatever (Hedo!!). But what of the Westbrooks, possibly Bayless and Barbosa, maybe Tyreke Evans—all minscule heirs to Dwyane Wade, a player who at every turn has resisted pigeon-holing and even too much law and order from possession to possession. Not because he's selfish, but because he works best when set loose and asked to explode. With that will come equal parts individual and team, but you can't see it coming and planning for it is something of a fool's errand. Compare that with LeBron's "allow me to be all pillars of your temple" functionality.

You wonder, then, what's the way to describe Westbrook? I've written previously about a redistribution of labor, either on the macro or micro level within a team. Are there not, though, players most suited not to responding to these signals from the realm of ideas, but to serving as catalysts in their own right, whose mismatched, or garbled skill-sets is proof not that they don't fit in, or are to become lepers in the taxonomy of scouting (I love Jamal Crawford, but we're not talking about his kind of limbo here). We still think of these players, and even superstars like Durant, in terms of how they might best be used to make sense of the usual slate of basketball responbiltiies. Durant can, in a sense, become a position unto himself. But either through their relative insignificance, or sheer, explosive weirdness, there's a whole class of smaller players who are best served as fields of probability, abilities that cohere more as a mess of intriguing tendencies than a CV-ready mission statement. This is nothing less than the difference between believing in skills and being cowed by the notion of responsibility.

(Graphs by Ziller. This is the spectrum of positionality. Blue dots are continuity, red ones isolated occurrences.)

I want to step back here and nod in the direction of a conversation Silverbird5000 and I had the other day concerning, on some base level, stats. We eventually returned to the question of whether, in the most crude sense, something like adjusted +/- presumes (as Berri certainly does) that it's better to have a team full of players equally good at offense and defense, at perimeter and the paint, than a collection of folks who excel at some things but suck at others. Forget for a second that what I've just described is pretty much the way teams are built, since the game is as much a series of encounters in the moment as an overall flow of data, and dominance gets you more mileage than playing it close in all departments. But it also dawned on me how much this ultra-conservative version of basketball (where, say, you'd take two players that are 5 in all categories as opposed to two with a wider range of "scores") resembles a team like the Warriors of legend, where even Baron Davis could blur his PG's role with Jackson around, or the Amare-less Suns, or that ideal D'Antoni team mentioned in the press at one point of "all 6'8" guys who can run and pass."

Here, of course, is where the ultra-right and ultra-left unwittingly crash into each other, when Communism becomes Fascism, or communes giving way to cults. I doubt it ever works the other way—a sinister consolidation of power and crushing of all opposition giving way to egalitarian sunshine and light? But certainly, the nexus is both unlikely and potential ammunition for both sides, even if it's that moment where you look across the battlefield and realize your enemy is human. We all want the same thing, sometimes.

And now, we come to what should be the topic of the hour, Allen Iverson. I find it fascinating that, ever since the 2001 Finals, even those who decry ballhogs and bemoan the death of the league have a soft spot for the guy. He's heart personified, guts on a stick, a performer whose sheer visceral and emotional impact on fans is like being hit by an unshorn tidal wave. He is, in short, a stone classic, a Hall of Famer, and one of the most important players in the game (even if you want to argue over whether he's one of the best). But he's been both ahead of his time and, in his uncompromising version of the Wade philosophy, a prototype that could not move forward without reforms. It's a given by now: AI can't play any other way. Even with Melo, when he racked up assists and worked well with another scorer, he set the tone and rhythm of every possession, and forced all around him to pick on his idiosyncratic sense of timing, space, and cues.

We can argue over whether or not the 2000-01 Sixers were effectively built around him, since no one else on there even needs to touch the ball. I'd say, though, that in retrospect, Iverson isn't the man who wrecked the guard position, but a phenomenal talent who can't help himself—actually, can't help but transcend the very notion of roles and responsibilities. As irresponsible as it sounds, Iverson only works when you give him the ball and let him improvise. Let what come may. Not because he's a ball-hog, but because the game only comes to him on those terms. Just as, for the guards discussed above, there's too much going on there (and sometimes missing there) to try and assign them clear-cut responsibilities. We're talking about a stylistic profile, a new way of mapping an ordinarily maddening kind of player. Inconvenient truths, but ones that have yielded fruits at times. Iverson is perhaps too extreme to even fit this model, but what he would need is a team built to respond to his disproportionate hits and misses—not a normal one that pretends he's a point guard, or even one where he's paired with a complementary player, as if Iverson were merely singular, not totally fluid.

All of which brings us to Lamar Odom. At this point, the "could've been Magic" has turned from regret on fans' part to a kind of background myth: "That Lamar Odom sure is good, did you know he could've been Magic?" I'd say, though, that at this point in his career the Lakers use him precisely as this kind of x-factor. I'm sure it's a pain in the ass for the coaching staff, but allowing Odom to shape-shift within the triangle, as opposed to cast him as KG-esque New Synthesis, is exactly what's allowed him to finally gain legitimacy. We can only hope that, whatever happens to Iverson next, in cast more in the light of forward-thinking strategy, rather than the Angel Gabriel handing out pizzas in the Stone Age.


Per audience request, here's Anthony Randolph's profile. We flipped it on its side and added some pentagrams to make it even weirder than it already is. However, also take note that we've added "handle" and "low TO's", so when you're looking at the other graphs, imagine those on there, too. They should only further affirm what we have discovered to be true.

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At 4/06/2009 10:57 AM, Blogger Ziller said...

Appendix A: LeBron.

At 4/06/2009 12:31 PM, Blogger Ace Hunter said...

Yo, Shoals!

This post is EXACTLY what I hope to see when I come to FD. Just great, great stuff.

Where do you think Anthony Randolph ends up (say 3 years from now) in this scheme I wonder.

At 4/06/2009 1:35 PM, Blogger Jon L said...

Excellent graphs. I also think this line, "They are, in some sense, without form until they fit. Or, no matter how sympathetically, they're bent and warped slightly to work well within whatever normal, or abnormal, system they've been cast in" was put on display in the most recent Cavs/Wizards game.

All year long, even though it cost Eddie Jordan his job, Ernie Grunfeld kept insisting that everyone needed to wait until Arenas and Haywood came back for people (including himself) to truly judge where the Wizards stood as a team. And while both Haywood and Butler have relatively traditional skill-sets for their positions, both Arenas and Jamison play with such odd style that it wasn't until everyone was on the court together that fans got to see/remember what everything was supposed to look like and how they fit together as a team. Talent level aside, Jamison seems to work better when his PG is Arenas instead of Mike James or Javaris Crittenton. Andray Blatche is able to use his variety of skills (nascent as some of them may still be) as a kind of (attempt-to) do-it-all frontcourt bench guy rather than being the starting center. And the team doesn't need to worry about how Butler needs to tailor his game differently to help them win when everyone can just go back to doing what they're supposed to do.

At 4/06/2009 1:48 PM, Blogger drhgl19 said...

If you're giving Iverson the wonderful blue dot for assists, I can't see the argument for how Westbrook doesn't get it, considering he is averaging 5.1 APG in 32.5 MPG and AI has 5.0 in 36.7 MPG.

I'd propose putting A/T at the 2nd from top-right, since that's a key PG thing, even if there isn't a snazzy name for it (running the offense?)

At 4/06/2009 1:52 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I like that idea. Check the update for an Anthony Randolph figure and some other changes to the model.

The positional weirdness of the Wizards has always been greatly underrated.

At 4/06/2009 2:02 PM, Blogger ugly baller said...

I've been waiting years for somebody to make the point you made about Odom there in the final paragraph. I also think, though, that we need to reconsider our expectations for him not based on potential, but in terms of a horrendously and sublimely idiosyncratic skillset.

For example, we shouldn't say that Lamar could be one of the best slashers in the league. He is one of the best at getting from the top of the key to the rim through traffic, especially at his size. But 27 other teams in the league know to take away his left hand and, as a result, he's an atrocious finisher once he's there. It's not what he could or couldn't be, it's just the mismatching of two skills that normally go together, but in this case do not at all. Same with Lamar's rebounding -- he's got great length, hops, and timing, but a horrible sense of positioning and can't box somebody out to save his life. Or with his playmaking -- he's a gifted passer with great hands and phenomenal court vision, and yet routinely makes bad decisions on the court and is a lock to throw the ball inexplicably out of bounds twice a game.

Next Magic my ass. The word "potential" has no bearing on Lamar Odom, especially at this stage in his career -- what, 9 years in the league? He is what he is: a phenomenally talented player in ways that have absolutely correlation with one another. The basketball in which he is a star hasn't yet been invented. The basketball in which he is a solid contributing piece to a tremendously good team -- an elite role player -- is and could only be this Triangle offense, as Shoals so aptly pointed out.

At 4/06/2009 2:07 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Congrats, you just made my Twitter.

Ziller and are consulting about the whole assist vs. assist/TO thing. We're leaning toward including "passing" and "assist/TO," in which case Westbrook would excel at passing but not the other one. I think we didn't give him an assist one because he's more of a passer than a set-up man, if that makes sense.

At 4/06/2009 2:18 PM, Blogger drhgl19 said...

I'd like to mention that the reverse Z is much sexier than the reverse N, for the record.

At 4/06/2009 3:02 PM, Blogger David A. Fonseca said...


I believe that Bron’s “post defense” and “post scoring” nodes should still be red. He undoubtedly access those skills if he desired, but with so many other, perhaps more personally exhilarating talents, he seems to chose to utilize them the least.

This reminds me of the Rondo post from about a month ago, which argued that Rondo’s limitations (jump shooting) forced him to sharpen the weapons he can access and, thus, become more deadly in his exploitation of them. Rondo’s limitations are not what makes him a singular and revolutionary figure though. It’s that his primary options essentially preclude the need for checking down. And, unlike other, more insecure players, he’s decided it beneath him to test talents he knows he does not have. That’s efficient.

Bron, though, is faced with the inverse quandary. We talk about “complete” players. But really, they’re just prototypes of incomplete archetypes. Chris Paul is a “complete” point guard. Pierce: Small Forward, Yao: Center. LeBron is the first player who is actually consummate. At this point, it can’t be argued that he could probably start at any position on the floor for any team in the league. But I wonder if this completeness somehow diminishes him? Is his arsenal so complete that some weapons, per course, go unused. Does he sometimes find himself at the top of the key scrolling down a virtual display of weaponry, a la the Predator, and deciding “fuck it, 30-footer”? He’s like a bull in a candy shop. Which is a mixed metaphor for: Sometimes the bull takes whatever the fuck he wants and leaves behind tears and wreckage.

At 4/06/2009 3:19 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

Great work. I'm not sure that there's any good reason (other than formatting multiple graphics on the page) to make each graph into a Z shape, rather than a straight line. You could even make each graph into a circle. PGs and centers share leadership, high FG%, and skillful passing.

Where would "hustle" go on your spectrum? I would think somewhere between SF and PF, a la Renaldo Balkman. You don't hear much about scrappy 6'2" players or 7-footers hitting the floor.

At 4/06/2009 3:42 PM, Blogger Vankov said...

Love the graphs - creative, intriguing etc pp.

Now, what I`d really like is to have you guys brainstorming and coming up with a way to apply John Holland`s Hexagon of the 6 personality types to a NBA team (or more).

I can envision Tim Duncan as the conventional type, or maybe Chris Paul as the artistic type, or perhaps Kevin Garnett as the enterprising type.

I know that it`s a fairly common theory, flawed at that, but I have every faith that with a bit of borderline genius you can make something memorable of it....if you like the idea, that is.

At 4/06/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Monty said...

So, by your graphs, I'm guessing that the only perimeter defenders that you recognize as consistent are role players? Bowen, Dhantay Jones, that sort of thing? Or is it just that perimeter D only comes with age?

Don't know why Melo doesn't get the boards circle when he's averaging as many as 'bron.

This is amazing.

At 4/06/2009 4:04 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Co-sign Ace and Jon. This is absolutely amazing work. The graphics on the part of Ziller at fascinating! (And that Bron one is hilarious.)

Seriously, though, I think @Bhel Atlantic makes some great points. I like the look of the graphics, but there's a lot (esp. of qualities that I consider to be of utmost importance to FD-ness, like hustle) missing.

These ideas also seem as though they lend themselves well to the concept (if not actual implementation) of fantasy basketball. Shouldn't the guys with more bubbles filled in just be fantasy nightmares? I'm not sure it'd actually be the case, but it seems like it should be...

This is great work, Ziller always seems to bring out the best in y'all.

At 4/06/2009 6:00 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

Great work, Tom Ziller deserves them to be an inverted Z for his contribution.

On a more serious note, how would you apply that concept on a macro/team level? Which position would fill which function continuosly or on occasion with a starting five following the classic paradigm? (Leadership, fearlessness, and potent scoring could help at all positions.)

C: blocks, post defense, rebounds, post scoring, fg% - blue, leadership, fearlessness, potent scoring - red?

PF: post defense, rebounds, fg% - blue; blocks, post scoring, mid range, fearlessness, leadership, potent scoring - red?

SF: mid-range, perimeter defense, threes, steals - blue; rebounds, fearlessness, potent scoring, leadership - red?

SG: perimeter defense, potent scoring, threes, steals - blue; mid-range, fearlessness, leadership - red?

PG: perimeter defense, steals, assists, leadership - blue; fearlessness, threes, potent scoring - red?

How would you distribute the duties on a classic team? Maybe it makes sense to just look at the blue dots. And once you have that, I think we could come to some interesting conclusions when we look at the starting fives of some of today's NBA teams.

From the top of my head: the Celtics or Hornets as quite classic, the Spurs as well if Bonner didn't start, the Lakers really weird, and the Warriors and Thunder making the classic model explode.

At 4/06/2009 6:02 PM, Blogger joseph göner-rebello said...

i'm in love with the positionality z-graphs (???) but i feel like the fearless and leadership attributes are kinda ad hoc. Why are these two from the many possible intangibles (do I hate or not hate this term? maybe it is one those terms that cross the conservative/radical boundary) selected? Michael mentions hustle, and then there is intimidation, swagger, etc.

It is easy to always point out what is excluded so I admit I don't have a concrete solution but I'm thinking maybe these intangibles don't fit into the graph any non-ad-hoc way. Maybe it is more useful to think about these things are characteristic of how the tangible attributes are related. For example, Randolph's style is a product of the way his weird distribution of attributes are linked to his game. Wade's leadership is not an attribute, but rather a way his attributes are related. I suppose this solution can become reductionist (style as product of discrete skills) and at the same time not very concrete. But maybe there is something to it.

At 4/06/2009 7:03 PM, Blogger Ziller said...

A few notes:

1. Thank you for the kind words, everyone.

2. This should be a disclaimer on every FD graphics post I'm involved in, but: Shoals does all the heavy conceptual lifting. He came up with the Z after attempts at a triangle (too limiting) and a pentagon (not narrative enough) came up short.

3. To clear up some confusion: red isn't bad. Red dots only occur when a strength has no adjacent strength. Blocks without post defense, assists without steals, threes without potent scoring -- those are oddities, and the red signifies that. The white dots represent the absence of skill. (And yes, it's almost completely arbitrary in terms of production vs. expectation, i.e. Melo's rebounds vs LeBron's. That's a demerit I'll take blame for.)

At 4/06/2009 7:13 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

I would buy a book with these charts. FD Almanac part 2?

At 4/06/2009 7:34 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Damn, beat me to most of that by a matter of minutes. I'd like to add that Ziller is in some ways the unsung hero of FD, since a lot of my posts come out of our chats.

"Fearlessness" was meant to be about going to the basket, which is less of an intangible than "hustle."

About the Z: We came up with it in part to dramatize the big man/small man divide (the two straight parts), versus those stats that fall in between, as well as the ambiguity of the small forward position these days.

The whole thing is a spectrum, but think of the big/small distinction as framing the system. So the bridge between the two horizontal sections has more "slope" or "drift" to it. Either that or there are two kind of spectrum involved in the middle, one in the other sections.

I'm dehydrated.

At 4/06/2009 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is lights out!

At 4/06/2009 8:49 PM, Blogger gkramer said...

A book of these I could undoubtedly pour over for hours. What about a set of the starting five or perhaps most productive lines ups for the league best(or worst teams) to look at which combinations, or lack there-of, that breed success...Would you expect to see any trends?(possibly more-so in the lottery teams?)

At 4/06/2009 8:59 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Make this into a book. Every team. Every player. And then find a way to make these speak to the more general style of the team's play. I'd definitely buy it.

At 4/07/2009 12:33 AM, Blogger The Till Show said...

If there were a Kobe model (for the record, if it matters, I'm not a Kobe "fan), would his leadership be colored in? The rest of the Lakers don't follow him out of love and servitude like the Cavs for Lebron or the Hornets for CP3. The Lakers fear the Mamba, but follow him because of it. Is that "leadership"?

Also, why isn't Chris Paul's Mid-range and fg% circles colored in?

Aside for that minor grievance, this is in-effin-credible. And I would buy this book if you did every player on every team.

At 4/07/2009 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa. This is amazing stuff here! Center, power forward: these terms mean nothing anymore. It's time for a whole new lexicon, and these charts are a leap in an awesome direction for discussing what position means. Of course if we're talking about books, in my opinion the real big job would be categorizing z-types and naming them.

At 4/07/2009 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are great genre films, and then there are just great films.

there are great pgs/sgs/sfs/pfs/cs and there are guys who just play basketball

thats iverson, that was barkley (i stole someone's quote about him). of course there are many others but I like framing Iverson and this whole positionality problem in that way. a team would have something if they took five guys with adequate size who could just play ball. i mean of course they would because they'd have five of the most talented players ever but the point is if we threw out the position model and just played basketball we'd have coltrane.

also: lets throw out stat categories too. positions combined with stats just make basketball all aristotelian. when you name the block, count it, calculate its importance, it loses some of its aura, its enchantment. it reduces it to a single occurrence and then attaches a specific importance to that occurrence rather than letting it be part of a bigger thing, which is just basketball. reduction can only limit and deceive us when we're looking for possibilities.

At 4/07/2009 1:25 AM, Blogger Ritchie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4/07/2009 1:29 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

so basically, would MJ just have been every category filled minus blocks?

oddly enough he seems to fill up more spots to me than the traditional "versatile" archetype players (Oscar, Magic, etc).

(even more pertinent, would pippen just be the entire Z?)

At 4/07/2009 1:30 AM, Blogger Ritchie said...

Brilliant. Exactly what I love about FD. But that Chris Paul graph is a joke. It's like if you made a breakdancing graph for Crazy Legs and didn't fill in his bubbles for uprocking just because he's Crazy Legs. Of course Crazy Legs can uprock and CP3 definitely rocks FG% and mid range. After all CP3's FG% is better than Lebron's, Kobe's and Wade's.

Thinking about what Tyrus' graph would be in my head and I feel like even in this paradigm many of the things that make him magical are intangible.

At 4/07/2009 2:11 AM, Blogger dickie said...

Maybe, after "post defense" and "blocks", you add a final bubble that just says "intimidation." Then, from a holistic team perspective, there is a continuum from the Self ("leadership") all the way to the Other.

At 4/07/2009 2:37 AM, Blogger Phoebus said...

Using these awesome stats, how big of a projectile fuselage and exit-circumference can be built on a cannon aimed straight at hollinger's face?

At 4/07/2009 12:10 PM, Blogger Royce Young said...

I would actually say you could color in Westbrook on "fearlessness."

At 4/07/2009 12:12 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

We definitely got murky with "fearlessness" and "potent scoring." "fearlessness" is more "taking it to the hoop," which is totally westbrook, where "potent scoring" is creativity/efficiency, something more like nash, paul, or wade.

At 4/07/2009 1:03 PM, Blogger Mike @ weretheteamtobeat.com said...

yeah Westbrook's gotta have the fearlessness dot colored in.

At 4/07/2009 1:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Everyone chill, we're hoping to have a revised version up later today.

At 4/07/2009 1:25 PM, Blogger David A. Fonseca said...

I think Durant's fearlessness is most vivid in my mind, as he's not afraid to take/miss big shots. I didn't even consider the fearlessness of a manu/westbrook/rondo

At 4/07/2009 2:15 PM, Blogger Jerry Hinnen said...

Incredible work here, gentlemen, and not just Shoals and Ziller: Dave's comment re: LeBron as a Predator is genius. Freedom from choice is what we want for him occasionally, certainly.

At 4/07/2009 2:51 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

This is sick-made.

I don't understand the point of the red dot, even though I understand what it means. I think that you actually would be better off treating the red dot as a lesser incarnation of the blue dot (as opposed to just being a blue dot not next to another blue dot). I know that all judgements would be arbitrary, but, um, these judgements are rather arbitrary already.

Also, why is Garnett a leader? 1) defense is stupid, and 2) Rondo sets the tone defensively on a level close to Garnett's and 3) Garnett is third banana to Pierce and Rondo, tone-wise, on offense this year.

At 4/07/2009 3:17 PM, Blogger dunces said...

spanish up there raises an interesting point: what do these graphs look like over time?

For instance, LeBron's graph was at one point not on fire and was a lot of red dots.

I'd say just off the top of my head that a rookie's graph is less likely to have any continuity, exemplified by Russel Westbrook, and that an aging veteran is more likely to retreat to continous sets of true strengths.

At 4/07/2009 3:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Philly in the heyday was briefly great more because of Larry Brown and team defense / depth than Iverson.

Philly gets to the finals one time when the team offense is 13th ranked. Even that was not much because of Iverson looking at his TS% and offensive rating. Most other years the Iverson dominated offense was among the 10 worst in the league.

Plug in almost any other top 10 PG of the last 10 years and they probably would have done better more often and possible better ultimately.

Iverson's glory period was one 50 win season, one trip past the 2nd round. That's it.

Less of a ballhog, do whatever he wanted player probably could have made more of that context.

I can appreciate unique players and they can help provide edge the path to victory but he is not the best example. Even Wade had traditional center Shaq. And Manu had Duncan. Unique players need help.

Iverson had traditional Center Mutumbo. traditional PF Hill (and Geiger, Mohammed, Ratliff and McCullough!) and decent wings in McKIe, Kukoc and Lynch.

Iverson got too much of the credit.

At 4/07/2009 4:34 PM, Blogger Jon L said...

Even though "fearlessness" would also include drives to the basket, could it also include 30-foot threes like the kind LeBron takes and Arenas used to take?

At 4/07/2009 7:57 PM, Blogger Dan said...

shoals, are you seeing senor cohen in indio? can i buy you a 7 dollar plastic cup of heineken and talk to you about basketball for a little bit? this would be the 2nd most awesome thing to happen to me in a while (the first would be being in indio for mad music, obviously. you get booted to 3rd if the lakers win the title too... sorry.) now that i've insulted your dignity, hopefully you'll take up my offer! shit.

At 4/08/2009 12:07 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think you have a coloring typo for Dwyane Wade. You put his "blocks" in red even though the guy set the all-time record for most blocks in a season by someone whose height is 6'5" or under. On the other hand, guys like Mo Williams and CP3 have white in their blocks circle when they average roughly 0 per season.

Unless of course the color in each circle is selected for artistic purposes as opposed to anything related to the listed players basketball abilities.

At 4/08/2009 12:38 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Did you ever consider reading the sentence over the first graphs that explains what the colors mean?

At 4/08/2009 4:29 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The Z framework covers a lot of the ground about position / role pretty well and the depiction is clean and clever.

SG / Sf are the most interchangeable but usually you want balance with at least one hitting the key for each, preferrably more than that.

There are different types of x-factors and Odom is doing really well on adjusted +/- this season with his mix of contributions and he took a lot of shots early in the season and should get more praise now, not that I think many fully appreciate him or will give much credit. What does his z chart look like?

Is Durant's more like Odom's or Garnett's or halfway between or different enough from both you shouldn't classify him fully with either or call them the poles or only poles?

How many x-factors do successful teams have? Fit one in, the right one, that sounds good. Two probably would be generally more challenging but maybe not impossible. Is Westbrook the right choice with Durant (and Green)? Time will tell. Really defense is the only thing that Westbrook brings that Durant doesn't.

At 4/08/2009 4:36 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

What does Green bring or bring in spades that Durant doesn't? Nothing I can see.

At 4/08/2009 2:25 PM, Blogger Brian Lee Ellison said...

You know, I bet a graph from AK47's all-star year would be pretty wicked.

At 11/17/2010 3:54 PM, Blogger PQ said...

I'm new to this blog, recently received the Macrophenomenal book and have been devouring it, and I just have to say these graphs are so so so so cool. I'm rendered almost speechless. You guys are kicking the shit out of contemporary basketball coverage.

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