The game of basketball is just simply different in 2017 than it was when I was a kid. The days of the point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center are gone and have been for a while. What bothers me is that we still feel the need to label players along one of those 5 categories. The game has changed, no longer is your point guard necessarily your primary ball handler or best passer, no longer is your "2 guard" necessarily the best shooter on the team. I wanted to write this to give some sort of a guide as we head into NBA free-agency, because players will be signed based on what they bring to the basketball court, not the position they fill. It's time we officially change the labels of the 5 positions on the floor, and that's exactly what we're going to do here.
Position 1, The Primary Ball Handler.
- Think LeBron before he found Kyrie, the Greek Freak in Milwaukee, or what Ben Simmons would have been in Philly had the team not drafted Markelle Fultz. Doesn't matter the size, skill set, or player they're match up with on defense, the primary ball handler is simply the player on the floor that handles the ball more than any other.
Position 2, The 3 and D.
- These are guys that can't create offense off the dribble, but can knock down a 3-ball, and get back on defense with high efficiency on that end. Typically these players have a high +/- differential. Think JJ Redick, George Hill, Otto Porter, and Serge Ibaka.
Position 3, The Pace and Spacer.
- This is the new norm in the NBA. Coaches need a player that can work off the ball, setting screens, finding open looks, and cutting to the basket. The Pace and Spacer takes up little room on the floor and never clogs the lane. Think of the Anti-Dwight Howard. Think...Andre Iguodala.
Position 4, The Defensive Stopper.
- This guy's offensive repertoire is probably thin, but it doesn't matter. The Defensive Stopper is on the floor to do just that, shut down a player on offense. This player is asked to block, rebound, and maybe get the occasional put back on offense. Think Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, and what the Hornets want Dwight Howard to be. These are the stats to look for with The Defensive Stopper: blocks, contested shots per game, and field goal percentage allowed at the rim.
Position 5, The Stretch 5.
- That's right, the stretch 5 has replaced the stretch 4. The trend of big men shooting 3's began when the traditional "power forward" started doing it, now everyone wants to shoot the 3-ball, and that includes the traditional "center". Karl-Anthony Towns would've strictly played basketball with his back to the basket if he had come out of college in the 80's or 90's, but those days are gone. Big men all around the league are stretching the floor with their 3. This past season 60 players at least 6'8 or taller attempted 1 three-point shot or more per game, for reference, that number was 33 in 2013..that was only 4 years ago.