Thursday, October 22, 2009

NBA Team Structure-Chaos Spectrum: An FU Graph

If you're new to FU, then allow me to explain the basis of how I see Basketball. I stand by the creed that Basketball is the only team sport in which a player fuses the game with his personality and soul. No two players can play exactly alike. Kobe can study all the Jordan film he wants, he'll will still shoot his fadeaway in his own Mamba way. Whether noticed or unnoticed, a player's "game" is defined by the kind of person he or she is. Richard Hamilton will never use screens the same way Reggie Miller does. Blake and Taylor Griffin are brothers; and even they have totally different inner methodologies that could never be copied. The shooting form in my banner pic is mine and mine alone. I'm not referring to how productive a player is on the court; so the last guy on the Nuggets isn't a worse person than Carmelo Anthony because he isn't as good as 'Melo. I'm theorizing that how a person sees Basketball is a reflection of their personality.

An addendum to my FU creed is that a Basketball fan's like/dislike of certain teams is also a reflection of how a person is. All 30 teams fall somewhere between "conventional" and "unconventional." This is along the parallel of my yin/yang series, as well as "Money" Mike Benjamin's "Form/Function" series over at Points Off Turnovers. Characteristics such as offensive tempo, play-calling, rosters, and the blurring of traditional positions are included in a team's mixture. And I, to the best of my ability, graphed them. Western Conference teams are on the left, and the East is on the Right. Peep the result and an explanation at the end of this sentence.
The first thing I think readers will notice about the graph is that the Lakers and Celtics are in the middle of Chaos and Structure. This doesn't mean they are "perfect" teams; but rather that they've achieved the most exact blend of those two ideals. The graph is also Conference exclusive. Eastern and Western Conference teams aren't necessarily compared to each other. For example, the Pacers are more conventional than the Bucks; but they're not necessarily as conventional as the Rockets with Yao. A third idea is that I'm not associating better teams with being closer to the center of the graph. As you can see, there are contenders scattered along the spectrum.

This is a graph about the teams as a whole. Each of them has at least one player opposite of its place in the spectrum. And your like/dislike of a player has no bearing on how you feel about a team. So you may like watching Deron Williams; but that doesn't mean you enjoy watching the Jazz. And allegiance to one's favorite team does not apply to this graph because that bias will distort your view. It's understood that some players—particularly the Elite ones—exponentially add interest to their respective teams through fans' appreciation of their work. I'm a huge fan of Chris Paul, yet I cannot stand watching the Hornets. In this graph, an individual player does not correlate to the overall enjoyment of watching the entire team.

The Rockets and the Sixers were given two spots on the graphs because they had drastic alterations to their team's chemical makeup. Both teams became more successful when they were forced to abandon structure and become more chaotic to survive. Thaddeus Young became the hybrid SF/PF that Philly needs to get out and run; and the Rockets just played on pure guts and let Aaron Brooks be Atom Ant. It was a bit of Adelman's smoke and mirrors, but Houston somehow won 2 games without Yao against the future NBA champs. As for the Sixers, that first-round series with the Magic was a lot closer because they had to be fast break-oriented. Andre Miller, now playing in the Rose City, was the reason the transition from structure to chaos was seamless. Elton Brand must adapt himself to the fast-paced Sixers and not the other way around. It makes them much more dangerous.

Where our individual personalities factor in on this graph is that it will point out the many facets we have as people. I'm infatuated with the pure ruthlessness of the anarchic Warriors as well as the Spurs mechanization through the Big Fundamental. Portland's young near-completeness and Oklahoma City's developing Revolution are both microcosms of my personality. That's the beauty of Basketball. Just when you think you've figured out everything about your self, you discover something new about who you are as both a person and a hoops fan. Find yourself through this art. I have and am continuing to do so with each passing season.


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