What are NBA depth charts and how are they used?

From a Helium Assignment a few years back.


Depth charts are a fairly common tool in the NBA- You place your players on how you think they perform- and rate the rest behind them accordingly.

There are 2 major issues with this system in the current NBA systemDepth Chart

Red Auerbach pioneered the 6th man concept in the NBA His idea was to keep one of his better players on the bench and bring him in to give his team a bit of a spark either offensively when either team may be settling into a routine or running low on gas or- if the other team has a great offensive player a defensive 6th man to give the player a different look his first 6th man Frank Ramsey could play either guard position and was a solid player- but backed up 2 hall of famers and could slide to either spot with ease- and helped win 7 rings and earn a spot in the Hall as well- today a 5th overall pick might have some major issues with coming off the bench- but 7 rings speaks for itself. The Most famous 6th man in recent NBA history Kevin McHale started 118 of 407 games before being moved to the starting lineup after the 1986 season McHale was in a great place as Bird could move to SF vs some teams and Kevin could play low post as a C or a PF Most recent examples of this type of 6th man is Manu Ginobili with the San Antonio Spurs, being the classic instant offense off the bench and Leandro Barbosa with the Suns- being able to take either Nash’s spot at Point Guard and Raja Bell’s spot at shooting guard

The Second- and possibly larger issue of the traditional depth chart is not every player fits on the chart- you have so many players that can play so many positions well- part of the reason Pat Riley went to the 1,2,3,4,5 as his starters rather than the PG,SG,SF,PF, and C that has been used- When Kareem went down in the finals- Riley and Magic simply placed Magic’s responsibility to the 5 instead of the 1 and used the same playbook. Today in the NBA- you have players such as Kevin Garnett, a player that came into the NBA as a Small Forward, then went to the Power forward position and now is playing Center in Boston- Tim Duncan is considered the best power forward in the NBA today- if not in history- yet come crunch time he moves to center- as does Dwight Howard in Orlando- on the other end of the scale you have players like Allen Iverson who may play defense against the opposing teams point guard but on the offensive end of the floor plays a 2’s set of plays. This “destruction” on the classic roles is more inclined to today’s atheism more than anything.

Depth charts do come into play- but more for general positioning more than anything at this moment in the current NBA a team may have a glaring whole at say power forward- but can make players that are too big for the position- say a Hedo Turkoglu of the Magic- take some minutes- depending on the opposition- or if the team is a bit smaller then a player such as Shawn Marion may slide up to take the bulk of the power forward minutes.

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