The idea of “positionless basketball” isn’t new, but in the past 5-10 years it has become more and more en vogue. Front offices fall over for the versatility of bigs who can shoot with range, guards who can post, and players of all sizes having the skill sets of wings who are as comfortable handling the ball as they are setting a down screen.
The Lakers have an interesting mix of players who are capable of helping the team move in that direction. It’s an idea we touched on in the preseason and, while it hasn’t always been the case this year, we have seen hints of the Lakers playing a more positionless brand of ball — especially recently, with the team running more modern offensive sets.
While we often talk about positionless basketball within the context of offense, though, the key to really making it work is as a viable approach is defensive effectiveness. If you want your “PF” and “C” to be Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in order to maximize offensive spacing, those guys need to be able to be able to defend bigger players and then rebound the ball.
So, defense matters. And, as the old saying goes, the position you play is the one you can defend. The more positions you can defend, the higher your value in a league which wants to pick and roll teams and run a myriad of motion sets designed to force switches and create mismatches.
This brings us to the Lakers and, as the head coach calls it, an experiment they are trying over the course of the team’s final 14 games this season: