Roles and Classes and Nerds oh my!

So I'm pretty much a big nerd who likes sports a lot. See, I've always played video games -- and not just ones the cool kids play (hi Madden, Halo and Call of Duty!) -- but the ones that you're always a little embarrassed about until you finally just embrace that you truly are a nerd (World of Warcraft can make some games look cool, trust me). My even nerdier friends have been slowly nerding me up even more. A couple years ago I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. Other tabletop games like BattleTech have been more recent additions.

Anyway, that's all not too important, but it'll kind of set the stage a little bit for what I'd like to do with this FanPost. I'd like to try to summarize the Blazers' roster like how you summarize characters from RPGs with their class name or role.

For example. One strategy game franchise I really enjoy is the Total War series. There you have your Spearmen, whose role is to counter Cavalry. Cavalry are great at attacking Missile units and then pulling away when reinforcements arrive. Cavalry are also nifty for flanking and breaking up enemy formations followed closely by a charge from your infantry. Sword Infantry counter Spear Infantry well. Missile units are good for forcing the enemy to attack you on your terms. Everyone has a role. A Yari Ashigaru (spear peasant) has the same role as a Yari Samurai (trained spearmen), but the Samurai does it better.

In Final Fantasy Tactics, there were numerous classes. You had Archers, Lancers, Knights, Black Mages, White Mages, Time Mages, Clerics, Ninjas, Samurai and many other classes! It's a pretty cool game if you haven't tried it! At least all my nerdy friends and I loved it. My cool friends thought it was slow and boring and convoluted. But I digress! You'll see very distinct distinct classes there. And even if you've never played the game, you might have an idea of some of the differences between classes.

In 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, you'll have those usual classes that all nerds know and love (wizards, clerics, rogues, rangers, etc.) but you also have the four roles which I believe are Striker, Controller, Defender and Leader. The fun thing about this system is that you can have two classes that fulfill the same role (say, a Thief and a Rogue are both Strikers) but in very different ways.

"So what does all this have to do with basketball already!" you're probably asking! Well I was hoping all of you could help me out! I wanted to have maybe a recurring FanPost that is pretty heavily comment-driven where folks make a case for a good Class name or Role name to describe a player. Using the Rec system to sort through the best comments, maybe a more ambitious and more articulate person than me could do it again, but this time summarize the best roles/classes for everyone and then we can do some more commenting if we've been inspired to think of something more appropriate or if a player evolves his skills into something we weren't seeing earlier. It just seemed like it could be kind of a fun project for us to work on here in the dog days of summer for a few reasons:

  1. It could help describe a player to a more casual friend or family member. Say I want make Nic Batum's role on the team something like "The Lubricant" and I go on to describe how he just is a nice guy for chemistry and he helps out on the court in a lot of little ways. Sometimes is too willing a passer. Doesn't just have to make highlight reel passes either, but those Steve Blake passes that just get the ball moving to the right place trusting the next person to make some good judgements too (not trying to get into a discussion about overrating Steve Blake but that was in my opinion the one thing he did well). He is basically the opposite of those Black Hole players that tend to suck the energy and enthusiasm out of teammates and maybe add a little resentment.
  2. It could help us, when we're watching the game, to evaluate on the fly if we think a player is playing to his strengths or whether a combination of players on the floor might be a good fit or not. If you players who are all "The Lubricant" as their role/class, then you often don't have a person on the court who is willing to shoot that ball with confidence and without hesitation when times get rough. You may need someone a little mean to inject some energy in the game. I don't know! Certainly it seems like a bad idea to get all Gunners who shoot without conscience and to whom "pass" is a 4 letter word and it's probably equally a bad idea to get 5 defensive specialists who have such poor shooting mechanics that your 11 year old nephew is probably a better shot. It's a little bit how the bigger stat nerds here will freak out when they see a certain player shoot from the left block instead of the right "BECAUSE HE'S A 9% BETTER SHOOTER FROM THE RIGHT AAAAAAARGH!!". It's just fun to go into a game equipped with a certain viewpoint that you're analyzing things from. "If I see Andre Miller shooting a 3, then I know the offense broke down." is an example of a fan knowing a player's role and strengths going in and it's just more fun to watch a game being better equipped with this kind of information. We'd be helping the casual fans experience the game better if we equipped them with even a very basic sort of knowledge like this.
  3. Labels are fun! Yeah, it's not really cool anymore to try to organize, classify and label things. It's not PC. But I think we all at least kind of secretly love it. Well I do anyway. Projecting!

So we'll see how this goes. Might be that it just doesn't get many comments and that's fine. I'll still have a perfectly enjoyable time slipping in here every once in a while, treating it like my own personal diary of labels and thoughts on players. But I do think it could be significantly more fun and powerful if we got a number of us that made this a community project. If folks do try to help out, let's just try to keep things positive. Statistics are lovely, but not necessary. This is all about opinions and labels. You can't really be right or wrong here. The Rec button is just how we'll determine which comments ring most true to the most people. We'll see how this goes!

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