Roundtable: Positional erosion?

Basketball in its present form has challenged decades-long beliefs about how players combine in terms of roles.

As all fans know, historically teams divided into a point guard, shooting guard, wing forward, power forward and center.

But teams no longer conform to the same strict standard, with some college programs and NBA franchises defying that framework altogether. That said, for simplicity and for maintaining a hoops language that everyone understands, most scouting services and media publications continue to discuss players as falling into one of the five traditional groupings.

Our national panel — Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington — tackles that topic this week.

ED: I'm not sure the traditional system does make sense today. Obviously, there are a number of players who fit into those categories, but there are plenty who do not. In fact, I think the game has changed and evolved to where the point guard and power forward positions are particularly different from how they were in the past.

There seem to be fewer and fewer true point guards these days. If you take a look at our 2014 PG list you could classify a number of them as combination guards rather than true PG's. These days, it's a separate position. For example, Tyus Jones and Romelo Trimble are currently both classified as PG's, but they play the game much differently. Tyus is always pass first and looks to run his team, while Trimble is a known scorer who has a reputation of looking to get buckets. He can run a team as well, but his best attribute is his ability to rip the nets from deep.

The issue with the power forward spot is there aren't many power forwards these days. A good majority of PF's classify as a stretch four-man. There are a handful of true PF's in 2014 like Reid Travis and Angel Deglado, but a good majority of them want to step out and face the rim and play more on the perimeter.

So to answer the question, I think there are a couple of positions that are evolving and developing to the point where they don't accurately describe certain players anymore.

BS: I definitely think the five traditional positions are outdated and no longer exist. Specifically. the power forward position is a designation that needs to eliminated forever.

Also, shooting guard and small forward to me are the same, so I would like to see that combined into wing. To me the only two positions that truly exist are center (or post) and point guard. After that, it is all interchangeable parts where you make pieces fit based on the scheme that you use.

JG: I think positions are definitely as relevant as ever, although every coaching staff seems to have its own definition of what it is looking for out of each position.

Unfortunately, the word point guard has lost value over the years and now almost every primary ball handler wants to be classified as a point guard, even if making their teammates better has no place on their on the court to-do list.

The post position has also really changed due to most kids 6-7 and up who, in the old days would be working on their post moves growing up, have often become so reliant on their outside shot that they're now face-up fours.

There's now an abundance of score-first lead guards - better termed as combo guards - and face up fours in high school basketball, and many coaching staffs have adjusted their recruiting and coaching philosophies accordingly.

RH: Without a doubt, the term "power forward" has become obsolete. It's not that power forwards have ceased to exist, that term simply should not be used as a catch-all that also includes stretch fours such as Isaac Copeland. The difference between a Copeland and Reid Travis is so vast that those two players should not slot to the same position. They'll play a different role on both ends of the court, though at least on defense some similarities will be present.

I've also always been particular — you might even say a snob — about listing any player as a point guard. To me, that designation connotes an ability to command an offense and facilitate team-wide involvement, rather then merely being the primary ballhandler or defending at the point of attack.

All that said, no classification system will be perfect. Some standardization has to occur, or else the deluge of positions will become overwhelming and confusing to readers. We could break things down into point guard, scoring lead guard, scoring off-guard, combo guard, swingman, wing forward, hybrid forward, stretch forward, undersized post and jumbo post, but would that benefit readers?

While moving away from power forward would mark a positive first step, I think any changes to the current system would need to be incremental in order to maintain cohesion in terms of rankings and evaluations.

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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