Positionless Basketball

This is the vogue terminology for roster construction that coaches are now leaking to the media.  As most things, when one of the best mentions it, it becomes real and no longer in theory.  But what are the reasons for all of this sudden change?

If you look back to the last few drafts, you’ll notice an influx of players who can now be categorized as “positionless.”  But when they were playing in college, many of them were treated as “tweeners,” the former word that has the same essential meaning as “positionless.”  In the 2017 NBA draft, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, Jonathan Isaac were all players that fit this “positionles”s moniker.  In reality, they are players that can play multiple positions on both ends of the floor.  They are players that have learned how to play on and off the ball offensively, and can defend at least two traditional position slots.  And since there are so many of them now, rosters are flooded with players that fit into this idea.

These players used to be unique and were valuable because of the flexibility they gave coaching staffs to go small, or go big, or play fast.  Fast forward to the 2017-18 season and the love affair coaches and executives had with these types of players has left most rosters with multiple-multi-position players.  And once coaches realized what they had, a bunch of guys who can pass, dribble and shoot, that are tall enough to play around the rim but also athletic enough to patrol the perimeter as well they adjusted schemes to play the hand they’ve been dealt.  Well, the smart ones have adjusted what they’re doing to fit the personnel they have.  Others are…stubborn, we guess.

Obviously, LeBron James is the ultimate player for this era, since he can successfully play every position on the floor and even some of those off the floor.  And since he’s been in the league since 2004, we are now seeing the influence he’s had on the game in that time period.  Prospects entering the draft are more familiar with his game, than Kobe Bryant’s or Michael Jordan’s.  They’ve modeled their game after LeBron’s since he’s been the best in the business for a long time now.

No one has ever questioned the Chosen One’s greatness, but we should really take a moment to fully understand the impact he’s had on the game and its development.  It reaches beyond the NBA Championships and Finals MVP awards.  LeBron has changed how the game is played for the foreseeable future.  Populating the floor with incredible athletes who can do more than just score.

LBJ Block 2

They can run a team, defend everyone across from them, fly above the rim and make the pass that sets up the assist.  He’s the Queen on the chessboard.  He’s a capable attacker from every position.

LBJ Kobe

And for that reason, teams need to find as many pieces close to mimicking his abilities as possible.  That is why “positionless” basketball has evolved.  To defeat LeBron.

LBJ Game Winner

Golden State acquired the best defensive player for the “positionless” era in Draymond Green along with two of the best offensive players in Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.  All to trump LeBron’s abilities, which proved to be quite difficult but not impossible.  To the rest of the league, just be happy he’s getting older.  Even though he ages better than everyone else too!

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