Position-less Basketball: Roles vs Positions

position-less basketball
Photo from CelticsHub

It’s a bit ironic that even in a “position-less” era, we still cling to the terms “guards”, “forwards” and “centers”.  Even the more modern terms of “points”, “wings” and “posts” now seem inadequate.

Historically, coaches would put two guards, two forwards and a center (or a point, two wings and two posts) on the floor at the same time (even all the time)-even if those 5 players weren’t the “best” five players or even the five players who “played the best together”.

That thinking still exists but as time goes on, it is being replaced by space and pace position-less advocates who will play any combination of players together-including 5 guards.  If the names of positions these days is really inconsequential, then why not go to more descriptive names for the various roles that players perform?

Without making it too complicated, on offense let’s call players Playmakers, Finishers and Transporters.  On defense let’s call them Defenders, Helpers and Protectors. If a player is only one of the above, we’re referring to a role player.  Two or more means we have a Hybrid with each additional role adding value.

Of course, going through this exercise doesn’t really diminish or increase a player’s value.  It may just help to crystallize what individual players bring to the table and how to best blend and utilize all the ingredients.  Looking through this lens makes it easier, I believe, to embrace position-less basketball.

We all know that in a perfect world, we want all of our players to have all six attributes but we obviously know better and try to mix and match personnel to suit a team, a matchup, a style of play, a tempo etc.  Concentrating on players’ roles instead of positions might just be a fresh approach to evaluating our own personnel as well as our opponents.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


    1. I would view a transporter as someone who is extremely efficient at getting the ball from one point to another without risk of losing control of possession.

  1. The terms provided to define roles are very limiting. The challenge is to come up with one word to define all roles. Positionless basketball entails deeper and wider range of understanding and teaching the game. I think that through the course of time, evolution of players and coaches will permit a yet to be known perspective about the game.

    1. The six words still redefine players & the roles of each of term. Coach Dick Bennett’s Blocker-Mover offense is fluid with “new terms” but the key to position-less philosophy is the responsibility for helping the team. There will be better ball-handlers & rebounders, etc so you want to execute the opposite role just to be position-less? The game still has to be played & sometimes you better set a screen for a teammate or you will end up jump being a collective bunch of selfish individuals running around looking for the latest highlight film to promote yourself. Having roles encourages taking responsibility! And that is something to think about!

  2. I like the transporter role. How about adding shooters/shot makers (could include playmaking) & rebounders? Iknow every year I have to re-think my offensive position (coach middle school & same age group rec ball). My defencive game is pretty much the same; get their offense uncomfortable. How this I accomplish this is by coaching to the type of players I have.

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