We're graphing again. This time, it's a brief look at the makeup of the role player, using some of the more recognizable secondary players in the Association. Peep it below...
Even though the graph has an "independent" side to the X-axis, every non-star is dependent on something. Whether it's playing against the opponents' second string lineup or the spacing their team's best player provides based on his awesome, role players need some sort of outside help--otherwise, they'd be All-Stars. That previous sentence is why Josh Smith makes this graph. He, like Dwight Howard and Amar'e Stoudemire, is most effective when in constant motion. Offense can't run "through" him yet. He's the true definition of a finisher; and he's beginning to grasp this notion (taken far less threes this year, plays 17 feet and in). Maybe next year, he'll participate in that game in February.
There's no right or wrong role player. Championship teams have had at least one player fall in each of the four quadrants. In my opinion, the most important player is the one that follows in the lower left quadrant, named the "Ginobili" quadrant. That player can come in the game and take over the game offensively because he's more talented than the other team's second-unit. He can carry his team for stretches while star players are in foul trouble or slumping from the field. They're self-reliant yet remain complimentary. This is why Atlanta's a serious threat with Jamal Crawford; and why the Suns haven't been the same without Joe Johnson--and why Johnson's a multi-time All-Star without Nash. But with that said, the contrapositive of the Ginobili quadrant consists of those players that are standstill and dependent. This fourth of the graph is named the "Kerr" quadrant. Normally, being standstill just refers to those players that dwell beyond the arc. But in the case of Zydrunas, for example, he's the premier pick-and-pop big man in the NBA; but rarely takes a three. "Standstill," in my thinking, means a player shoots it where he catches it. It doesn't necessarily mean from distance. If All-Stars were being included, then David West would be the prime choice. There's nothing detrimental about being an accessory to greatness.
This graph was made with Rasheed Wallace and Lamar Odom in mind. These two were acquired by the Celtics and Lakers respectively as valuable pieces to bring championships. Odom, after being invisible against the C's in 2008, showed up and showed out last season. His brief awakening provided LA with indefensible mismatches at the power forward position. It's no secret how much ability he possesses. The inquiry has always been if he can sustain it and not engage in Mamba watching. That's why he has an "invisible" plot and a "visible" one. He literally disappears and reappears by the game. As for Rasheed, his problems have always been psychosomatic. I've spoken my piece on how great I feel 'Sheed should be/have been; but for some reason, he enjoys being anonymous and unselfish. He's still unstoppable in the post, but he'd rather remain floating around 24 feet away from the basket. His skills haven't diminished as much as his play would suggest. He still gives Dwight Howard fits when defending him. For Boston's sake, he captures some semblance of his old form and be what KG, Shuttlesworth, and Pierce thought he would be when they visited him in their successful attempt to recruit him to Beantown. Odom and Wallace come and go as they please.
While researching information for this graph (props to everyone that gave suggestions on Twitter), I found that there are very few players that fall into the standstill and independent quadrant, titled, the "Vinnie Johnson." JR Smith and Jason Terry are players that can dominate the game with their jumpers; yet break offensive sets or have sets run through them to get them open. They're not one-on-one scorers, per se. Yet they seem to have the ball in their hands and given the proverbial green light. Their perimeter games are so reliable, and they play on teams in Denver and Dallas that get little production from the 2-guard spot. They fit perfectly in those schemes.
As with my other graphs, this was just a microcosm of all the role players in the Association. I could do a graph for every team, by conference, or even by position. But I omit things for the sake of debate. And as usual, leave likes and dislikes in the comment box.
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