Posted by: Kingsguru21 | July 25, 2009

How important is positional versatility?

Ask yourself a question of what is, and isn’t, important to a basketball team while playing another team 5 on 5.

You gotta have defense. Right? Rebounding? Yes, naturally. Guys who can get to the hoop. Guys who can hit outside shots. Preferably some guys who can play in the mid-range/high post area as well.

Balance, in other-words.

Lately, I’ve been busy at school which is why I haven’t been writing (or being a smartass when I do comment at StR) very much lately. My quarter is only half over, so do not expect this to change any time soon. And, quite honestly, what is there really to say except do some positional analysis and numbers analysis on rebounding (that TZ is already doing and I won’t bother to replicate it when he can do it far better than I could anyway) and various assorted other thing a mah jiggy’s out there.

Which is why I bring you that very word that you’ve been hearing for months: Versatility! As in, where is it? Oh, you’re confused that a team somewhat needing size and definitely defensive purpose down low went out & got Sean May? Me too.

According to 82games.com, Sean May played 7% of the available minutes last season at PF, and none of them at C. Erm. (Or what he did play was statistically insignificant.) In his rookie season, he played 1% of C minutes. (That was the year he also has received the 2nd most amount of mins in his career. His 2nd season, where he played a barn-burning 35 games, he managed 23 mins a night before encountering his knee trouble.)

I don’t want to sit here & waste your time, but the Kings definitely could use 3 guys who can play PF & C. Positional versatility is at a premium (if you believe Jerry Reynolds), and if you think Sean May, even at his best, does not provide that.

Which brings me probably to the most important point: Why sign Sean May?

I can think of several reasons in which why you do:

  1. To ensure that you can get the most out of Jon Brockman, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes to a degree, you give them some competition from a player with floor time experience
  2. You think that Brockman & May, while not being able to play the C effectively, could be a good 4th PF in a rotation and for cheap for the next few seasons, and seeing a battle royale to that effect would be benefitial to creating a more competitive atmosphere which was severely lacking last season
  3. Because both May & Brockman are cheap, you can effectively get rid of either at your convenience

The first point is easy to identify why it’s so important. All you had to watch was a month of last season, and it is (or definitely should be) self explanatory.

The 2nd point is a bit more complicated. Which brings me to the point that TZ made when talking about the signing when it happened a few days ago.

Only Sean May can lose here? Ugh, wrong. The Kings can lose, too. What if neither pan out? Brockman has troubles finishing inside, isn’t exactly considered a “tree” at 6’7, and May’s issue’s have been well chronicled pretty much anywhere that’s covered him in the last 3-4 years.

My concern is what if May has a similar season to Beno Udrih (if that hasn’t gotten your hair to stand up–it should), the Kings will get all warm & giddy about May and sign him to a contract they shouldn’t.

Frankly, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I’d rather see May have a great season AND WALK next off-season than anything else. I don’t mind the Kings taking on reclamation projects, and this isn’t hardly the first player who qualifies during Geoff Petrie’s tenure, but I do mind making a long term commitment to May.

Other than Bobby Jackson and Scot Pollard, the Kings haven’t gotten much out of these players beyond the season they originally had them. (Vernon Maxwell, Jon Barry, Beno Udrih, Shelden Williams, Justin Williams, Quincy Douby, Mo Evans, Matt Barnes, Alaa Adelnaby, Trevor Wilson, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to name several. And, while I’m aware these players were acquired via different ways, I also know that some only lasted a season. That is part of my point.)

I would much rather another team take a risk on Sean May beyond next season than the Kings. I believe, that while he could help the team this season, which is quite alright, I worry that Petrie and his staff will get googly eyes that May could be this or that. The history is there that will happen if the basketball staff convinces itself they absolutely need a player they will sign him money be damned.

You can’t afford to do that with Sean May. Even if he becomes Udonis Haslem, he’s not Udonis Haslem. Haslem, at draft time, was pigeonholed as a tweener who couldn’t do enough things down low. We’ve learned, in the years since, that is not the case, and has played enough different ways for him to be very valuable. Udonis Haslem is one of the exceptions in this league. He is definitely not the rule.

The trick in the NBA, if there ever is really one regarding this type of situation, is that these players, especially for a team like the Kings where the players they commit roster spots to on a year in/year out basis is so crucial, are usually best for the short term and short term only. How many times can Geoff Petrie make Beno Udrih level of mistakes? 1? 3? 10?

Once is enough. Once is too many, and once is enough to get more than a few GM’s in the NBA fired.

If you were wondering what happened to the 3rd point, read it again, and read the last 3 paragraphs again. 2 & 3 are inextricably connected. I would like to see Sean May re-launch his career. I don’t mind the re-launch happening in Sacramento. I mind the long term being culminated in the EC.

And, if you put 2 ounces of thought into this, you probably will hope so as well. (The thought of Beno Udrih being the next Kenny Thomas, even though he’s a perfectly serviceable player, is pretty nauseating. And, the difference is that Thomas was brought in as the contract Philly wanted to dump in the Webber deal. The Kings did that to save money–rightfully so– in the particular context that it could do so. At what they were paying Webber, they would have been worse off in the long run by not doing that deal. Udrih was a deal that the Kings franchise signed due to the fact they “needed” a PG.)

I don’t know if I’m right that May or Brockman will not pan out. I certainly think it’s possible that either guy could be a 4th rotation player. But, to pay either big money, and May will certainly want bigger money than what he will earn for any success this season, is that really worth that?

The successful teams, in the NBA, view players like May as players they can integrate quickly and successfully over a short period of time. If that player exceeds expectations, than you let them go to another team and try to another player fit that’s mold. That’s why Superstars are so important. You can play them (interchangeably most of the time with other talents) in multiple ways. Players like May and/or Brockman? Not so much.

Now, the point I was trying to make, and am trying to make, that a player like May who is essentially limited to the PF in most situations, as is Brockman, is probably going to be your 4th big in your rotation in most situations.

You’re asking a lot of either to be any more than that unless Jason Thompson becomes more capable of playing C than he’s shown. And, Spencer Hawes has shown enough ability to play PF as well.

Whatever you do with your front line, it’s going to be keeping Hawes & Thompson in mind unless you manage to get a superstar up front to complement them, and ultimately overtake either player at some point.

That’s why I think what happens with May & Brockman, while interesting in late July of 09, doesn’t mean jack diddly shit come 2010 Draft Time. That, ladies & germs, is the only news fit to print here. (Or, if you need a translation, 4th rotation Big’s aren’t that big of a deal when a cheaper/better/more versatile one comes along.)

P.S. In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you aren’t, does this mean financial flexibility and positional versatility are the same thing? Absolutely.

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Responses

  1. Nice read, as always.

    I’m quite curious to see how our bigs’ rotation works out. I’m not that worried about the lack of a true backup at center, many teams in the NBA have far less depth than us in bigs (see Orlando last year, they played with a sf as pf, or Portland, Houston and Cleveland).
    I hope that May and Brockman can come out of the bench and bring some energy in their minutes. May was a good move, considering that JT will still have foul trouble for at least one season, and you can’t rely that much on Brockman.

    • Your point about Orlando is valid, and hopefully you read my lil blurb on Donte. I think it’s useful to remember what makes Donte a talented player.

      • I always read all your posts, even if not always I’ve got time to reply^^

        The funny thing is that, if you compare Donte’s first season stats with Rashard Lewis’, they’re very very similar, so I don’t get all the impatience about him.
        He is a young 28th pick, and putting all this pressure on him can only make the things worse.
        He has to work on every aspect of his game, from shooting skills to post plays, from defense to decision making, and he is working and trying to learn. I’m sure we’ll see some very positive change in his minutes’ quality this season, we just have to give the guy some time to really discover what he’s capable of.

        • I agree Panzer. Rashard Lewis is exactly who I think of when I think of Donte as well.

  2. Nice read Pook- I agree that May could very well become a problem with a good season. The fans are anxious to see improvement and stability which usually means retaining your own players. Next years draft will solve the current depth conundrum at the PF/C position but int he mean time.

    I am very intrigued by today’s Francisco Garcia twitter about his 20lbs weight gain which may lead to a lot more minutes- possibly starter minutes at the 3. If Garcia has filled out while retaining his perimeter touch I see him as the starter at the 3 as a point forward to compliment Evans as a starter. This frees the Kings to play Nocioni at the 4 for at least a few minutes a game if necessary or deal him for PF/C depth.

    I like a 4 man back court of Evans, Martin, Sergio, Beno with limited minutes by Garcia/Landry (if he makes the team). I like a starting 5 of Evans, Martin, Garcia, JT and Hawes – Beno, Sergio, Noc, May as the Kings primary bench with Donté, Omri and Brockman getting a lot of scrub time (because lets be honest, there is going to be plenty of scrub time again this year.)

    On a completely different note…what is your major and what classes are you currently taking?

    • Well JJ, I don’t know if I like the idea of a 4 man backcourt rotation of Beno/Sergio/Reke & Speed. Too many guys who need the ball in their hands to be effective in that group, and I’m not sure that Easy Reke is a player who can play off the ball. Really, quite honestly JJ, I”m not sure he’s a player that you want to do that.

      I really like the idea of Garcia playing the 2/3 position as well, but also, I don’t like the idea of Noc playing the 4 at all. I don’t think Westphal’s coaching will make a single shred of difference there. I would much rather the Kings just dump Noc’s salary for an expiring contract rather than worrying about getting positional depth for him when it isn’t very likely.

      I’m taking Pre-Cal (more like high level algebra), and English Composition (You write a few papers, read a lot–you know the drill), and my major (hopefully) is transportation engineering.

  3. You might be right about the needing the ball in their hands but I still see these guys forming a pretty nice group. I think Martin and Beno can be used as catch and shoot players on the perimeter in isolation sets. I like Rodriguez as a bench distributor and initiator with both Martin and Evans coming off screens. Martin- Evans, Martin-Beno, Evans-Beno, Evans-Rodriguez etc. I think these line-ups can work.

    On the school front- I really enjoyed my comparative literature minor which has a huge cross-over with your English requirements (if your school has a Comp Lit department). At Davis, upper division English and Comp Lit courses are interchangeable to a certain degree when counting units for graduation. With your writing skills, I think you will find a real home in the comp lit department and learn a lot more about critical thinking and analysis then you will in standard English classes. A good comp lit professor will open your eyes to a whole new world of theory/philosophy that will help you with become a better writer, regardless of median. Just a suggestion- good luck with your mathematics 🙂 summer school is the only way to go to get those units out of the way.

    • As far as school JJ, I go to a Community College right now, but we’ll see about comp lit and what not. Even though I really want to pursue an engineering degree, it would be stupid, as a few people in my family have pointed out, not to get an AA or get a reasonable minor along the way.

      Thanks for the tip.

  4. I’ll drop you an e-mail with some other stuff regarding school. I took the same path and there is nothing wrong with a CC- I just did it at age 30.

    • I’m almost there with ya JJ. I was 28 when I took my first lower algebra course. I’m just really starting to take my real crossover courses to a 4 year now. So, in a way, and since I turn 30 in a few months, I’m essentially in a similar boat to you as well in that respect.


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