My reference to Kansas is to say, the normal orientation of basketball positions, I believe, has dramatically changed.
Over the off-season I wrote an article / post that discussed the need to look at the positions of a basketball team in a new light. I teneted that there are crashers, slashers, passers, and stretchers. I think I'd like to review this topic in light of the current Pistons roster and the need to create the right mix to get on track.
Let's start out with a quick review of what I mean by each of the terms:
Crashers - they pound the boards, i.e. they rebound, put back the ball off of offensive rebounds, and are low post players pure and simple. Of course, a player can also develop mid-range shooting abilities, but their real contributions are made close to the basket.
Slashers - they penetrate. These players drive to the basket, and typically draw fouls. They are quick, powerful, and stir things up to create opportunities as the defense collapses on them as they go to the basket.
Passers - these players are pass first, shoot later types. The best of the best have a great understanding of the angles, the timing, and the various methods to get the ball into the hands of their teammates. It may be simplistic to categorize any player as strictly a passer, but they are a field general first and foremost and whatever talents they possess - long range shooting or thrashing really is only a way to aide in their ability to pass more effectively.
Stretchers - I may have also called these players long range shooters, or long guns. They are the players that can widen the court and draw defenders away from the basket. The right player can stretch the court to make thrashers and crashers much more effective.I may have also called these players wings, but I would like to rename wings as another specialist - flyers.
Flyers - these players are players that love to run. The transition game is their bread and butter. They bring energy, a fast pace to the game, and seem to be their best on moving the ball after a defensive rebound or steal.
Here are 5 descriptions of different styles of play. I think that rather than small forwards or power forwards, or point guards and shooting guards, or simply a center, we should look for these attributes and consider combinations of players that create unique strengths or in some instances counter-measures to when an opponent is getting an upper-hand.
Who would I class on the Pistons as these types? Let's review:
Crashers - Do we have 2, 3 or 4? Maxiell is definitely one. Drummond too. Is Kravtsov; I' haven't really seen enough of him to know. Would you consider Monroe one? Monroe may be, or he may also be a thrasher given his ability to move with the ball.
Slashers - I think we may have 5 or 6 of these: Stuckey, Maggette, and Monroe are the players that I think qualify for sure as this type of player. Knight may be developing into this type, Singler too. Middleton I am hoping is this type of player. In my opinion Crashers and Thrashers are the most valuable of players, but I'll readily admit a team needs players that provide an option in all of the roles.
Passers - We don't really have a true top notch passer. We have several players that are decent passers however. Perhaps the most important of which is Monroe. Knight, Stuckey, Bynum, Singler, and Prince are others I'd consider our best passers, but obviously they are not elite in this regard.
Stretchers - We've been told we have several, but whether they are really elite stretchers is questionable. English, Daye, and Villanueva. Singler and Knight might qualify as well. Obviously they cannot be considered elite at this time.
Flyers - Jerebko, Singler, Knight, and perhaps Middleton and English are this type of player. Perhaps Drummond has this unique ability as well. If Kravtsov were this type of player too, this would make him a strong candidate in my book to play much more.
Combinations and substitutions should be predicated on how well players are performing in these roles. Defensively the match ups to the other team's strengths is a key that the coach has to read and consider in he creates his combinations. Yet, the way the team can attack the basket and move the ball is central to my formulation.
Starters, based on my preliminary analysis, should be:
Knight, Singler, Jerebko, Monroe, Drummond - two crashers, three slashers, four possible flyers, and this combination also provides some stretch and passing.
Stuckey, Maggette, Prince, Maxiell, Kravtsov - two crashers, two slashers, a passer, but limited or non-existent stretch, or fly player orientations. It might prove interesting to mix Middleton, Daye or English into this mix at times if they can demonstrate these qualities at a relatively high level.
Somewhere at the end of the bench:
Bynum and Villanueva would be at the end of my bench. I still tend to like the energy Bynum brings so I wouldn't be too reluctant to interject him into the second unit from time to time, but I think the primary unit offers the most upside.
Elite skills as a Stretcher and, or Passer are missing.