The Miami Heat have a new, menacingly named philosophy this year called “position-less basketball.”A great ESPN article by Tom Haberstroh today explains how the Heat — a team of hybrid players that can play multiple positions — are abandoning the traditional five positions completely.
Here’s what coach Erik Spoelstra said about it:
“We have to view this team in a different lens. When we try to think conventionally and put guys in certain boxes or positions, it really hamstrings us. Not only in terms of our flow, but mentally too. We developed that term (position-less) just for guys to understand our versatility and how we need to play.”
The shift to this position-less basketball really came last year, when it was abundantly clear that LeBron James was more effective playing power forward than playing small forward. By the end of the Finals, LeBron was playing almost exclusively in the post — something that he never did in Cleveland and rarely did in his first year with the Heat. And Miami won the title.
Now, the Heat aren’t allowed to even say the word “power forward,” and instead of referring to players by position (point guard, etc.), they refer to them by role (screener, etc.).
It’s branding more than anything else. After all, LeBron is still going to be playing the 4, no matter what you want to call it. And the starting five of Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, and Mario Chalmers is just as terrifying if you give them 1-5 positions.
But still, the point is that the Heat are now going to tailor the team to the individual strengths of the players, not the other way around.
In the ESPN article, Spoelstra admitted that he misused LeBron in 2010-11 by trying to shoehorn him into the traditional mould of a small power. What “position-less basketball” represents is the Heat playing going away from traditionalism and playing the radical, unconventional style that many basketball junkies hoped they’d experiment with in the first year of the Big-3 era.
The whole “position-less basketball” thing signals to the rest of the league that the Heat are no longer going to try to be traditional, which is a scary proposition.
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