The basketball world we live in today is dominated by the small ball lineups made famous by the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. Small ball lineups consists of one big man, a primary ball hander (in some cases, two), and the rest of the lineup is filled with guys who can shoot from outside. Houston’s starting lineup runs as follows:
Clint Capela as the big man.
James Harden and Chris Paul as the primary ball handers.
Trevor Ariza and PJ Tucker play along the wings.
The Rockets also are so successful because their bench has tremendous amounts of depth. They have a sixth man of the year candidate in Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson who stretches the floor as a big man, along with good wing options in Gerald Green, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Joe Johnson. Nene also fills in admirably when Clint Capela has to go to the bench for rest or if he’s in foul trouble.
The reason I just talked about the Rockets so much was because this league is known as being a copy cat league. The Rockets and the Warriors have the best chance at an NBA championship which is obviously the ultimate goal for every franchise. The other 28 franchises see their success and eventually adopt the same formula. This creates a fluctuation in value for certain archetypes in the NBA. Let’s talk about the archetypes that have been received the most value since the arrival of small ball, and the archetypes that have been devalued the most since it’s inception.
Wings that can defend and shoot from outside are now at a premium. Players like Robert Covington, Danny Green, and Klay Thompson have tremendous value in today’s NBA because they are so scarce in comparison to a number of other archetypes that I will talk about later. In this year’s NBA draft, you are going to players who fall under this archetype get drafted much higher than in year’s past. That is not to say they aren’t worth that draft pick, but the value it brings will override a potentially more talented player at a different position. Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges are two premier 3 and D wings in this years draft. Both will go in the top 15 as well.
The archetype that has been devalued the most is the big man that cannot shoot from outside. With the adoption of small ball, that means one big has to be on the bench. This fact alone devalues the position because that means you only need three on your roster to have adequate depth. Also, if that big man cannot space the floor by having a reasonably effective shot from outside, that is another aspect that devalues the position. That is why it was kind’ve shocking to see the Timberwolves select Justin Patton, a big man, with the 16th overall pick. It’s not that he potentially wasn’t the best player available, but there was a glaring need to address the wing depth on the Wolves roster.
In this years NBA draft, Minnesota will select a prospect with pick #20 barring there’s no trades. Look for Thibodeau to finally address the wing depth with that pick. Gary Trent Jr, Troy Brown, and Dzanan Musa are some names to keep an eye out for as they should be around when Minnesota picks and they meet the criteria that the Wolves are looking for.
photo credit slamonline.com