More About Non-Traditional Ways of Positional Thinking

As an addendum to Seth's link/post about thinking in other terms besides the traditional PG/SG/SF/PF/C,

I've always focused on this way of thinking:

1. You need guys that can handle the ball and be a leader on the floor.

2. You need big guys that can score inside
3. You need guys that can score outside
4. You need to defend every guy on the other team
5. You need a strong heavy 'box out' type rebounder
6. You need a slithery athletic rebounder
7. You really can't have more than one guy who's incapable of scoring on the floor at the same time.

It doesn't really matter which positions you get these skills from - you just need to get them out on the floor at all times as much as possible.

1. Ball handling and on-court leadership.  Felton.  Huge improvement over last year.  Can also shoot, see item 3.  Backup we have Douglas, hopefully improving and more confident in this area.  Also, Mason is a vet and can handle the rock too.

2. For inside scoring, the Knicks had Lee last year, have Amar'e this year.  They have this pretty well covered.  Amar'e's one of the best in the league.  When Amar'e is out of the game, I suspect Chandler is the guy they go to here, unless Mozgov is good enough to get on the floor.  Maybe Randolph, if his shooting and strength has improved.

3. Scoring outside?  They have Gallo.  Felton can shoot it from out there.  Buke, Mason, Toney, Bully - they can all do this.  Even Chandler a bit, in a pinch.  D'antoni's system really thrives on this, and the Knicks have plenty of good options.

4. Defending everyone.  This is where D'antoni sacrifices in order to put more shooters on the floor.  We may struggle defending big athletic 5's, but Turiaf will improve us there.  Plus, there aren't that many big athletic 5's.  Randolph too, as a shot blocker is versatile.  We have good perimeter defenders, good versatility in our defenders, and I don't think we have any huge holes that other teams will be able to reliably exploit.

5. Our strong, heavy box-out rebounder is a weakness for us, I think.  It was a weakness last year too.  Amar'e seems to be able to do it sometimes.  Turiaf is big and strong but not a great rebounder, though still an improvement over what we had last year (nothing).  Mozgov may be able to help here, but he also may be a liablitiy on defense.  I think we'll be susceptible.

6. Randolph is our slithery, athletic rebounder and given that item 4. might be a weakness, it's imperative that he stay on the floor and out of D'antoni's doghouse.  Buke can also help here from the 2 position - Gallo and Chandler might be able to help from the 3 position.  This is actually a huge part of Landry Fields' game, and a good reason why he may find minutes at the 3 if D'antoni sours on Randolph or if he only plays limited minutes.

7. No more than one offensive hole....The whole 'Jeffries as defensive quarterback' defensive scheme last year was really a departure for D'antoni and proved to me that he was willing to look at defensive innovation the way he looks at offensive innovation.  To me, this lineup struggled offensively (this must have driven D'antoni crazy) because with Duhon unable to hit a shot and Jeffries on the floor, this team violated rule 6.  For D'antoni, rule 6 is really that he doesn't like having even one player on the floor that's incapable of scoring, and no more than one incapable from scoring from outside.    I think the Knicks are pretty well set up here, but I don't think you will be seeing Randolph at the 3 unless he's really improved his shooting.

I think the reason great players make teams better is the really great guys can fulfill several of these issues by themselves.  You've got to do all this stuff with 5 guys, so the more roles each guy can handle, the better you're going to do.  A point guard really helps his team if he can also score, especially from outside.  Rondo is a guy that can't shoot, but he still helps his team because he can rebound.  I think Patrick Ewing was a great player even though sometimes he didn't look like one because he was a very good scorer, a very good strength rebounder, and a very good defender of 5's that was also athletic enough to defend other positions.  Conversely, a guy like Eddy Curry. who has scoring skills similar to Ewings, is sub-mediocre at rebounding and defending, so you need a power forward that's great at those things to play with him.  Amar'e is a great scorer, but a bit inconsistent with his rebounding and defense.  Turiaf is a good complement to him, though his rebounding could be better.  Randolph's rebounding will help a lot but without him on the floor, Someone like Gallo or Chandler is going to have to step up and provide some rebounding.

This is the Knicks biggest potential hole.  The good news is that all the other stuff is actually pretty damn strong.  To me it's more about avoiding the weak links in your team skills spectrum than it is about having the most talented guy out there.  In other words, if Turiaf or Amar'e was truly a terrific rebounder, I think that would actually improve our team more than exchanging Felton and CP3 would.  That's the way I look at it.  We'll see how it plays out.

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