Also agreed that the 2-3-4 distinction needs to be dropped from the lexicon for good. Wings are wings are wings. And size doesn't determine it completely either. Jaylen might be the same size as GWill roughly, but the former is a wing and the latter, a big. That's how they play.
This is getting close to being its own discussion about NBA positions. I think that would be a good thing, because I think too often here these discussions are coming down to the semantics of what you call a position, rather than the best ways to arrange players on the floor.I don't agree. I think mcpickl nailed it in Post #292. If anything its much more defined.
for example, Al Horford is a 4/5. He can play Center and he can play as a big wing. If you use ballhandler, wing or BIG to describe players you miss the nuanced way Al Horford plays.
I've personally always been bothered by the numbering of positions 1-5, because it doesn't seem to really describe what happens on a basketball court, particularly after the abolition of illegal defense.
Out of all the positional numbers, I think that only 1 and 5 really correspond to anything fundamental. Even 1 is debatable, but the base constraint is pretty straightforward: you have to take the ball up the length of the court, and that's generally easier for smaller, quicker guys to both do and defend against. There's also the fact that it's hard to defend jitterbugs unless you're also smaller and quicker, which is why Marcus Smart not quite being a 1 is a real thing--he has issues both guarding those guys and bringing it up against them.
In terms of initiating an offense, I don't think "1" corresponds to anything real: any player who is skilled enough to create an offensive advantage with the ball in his hands and then exploit that advantage can perform the role.
For 5, there are some fundamental properties of humans and the basketball court that make it real, under the current rules:
- Shots close to the basket generally have the highest expected value on the court
- Really tall humans have a massive advantage protecting the net up close and rebounding the ball after misses
- That advantage gets neutered in space, where quickness can open up tons of space from the big guy
- 7 foot+ humans have fundamental limitations on how quickly they can change direction, no matter how quick they are
- There's only one basket, so you have diminishing returns from putting multiple really tall humans close to it, both on offense and defense, in terms of preventing shots and rebounding misses
For the "2-4" positions, you're not really talking about anything fundamental on the court, other than the fact that depending on the opponent and your own players' skill levels, you can force it to be better or worse for the opponent to shade in the direction of bigger guys who move worse in space, or smaller guys who move/shoot better. Obviously to the degree you can find guys who are both large and skilled/quick in space, you want that. There's a reason Ben Simmons just got paid $170M even though he can't shoot.
TLDR (what all of these arguments tend to come down to)
For the guys who play non 1/5, I think "wing" is a fine term. But this isn't wing algebra: just because we call Jaylen Brown a "wing" doesn't mean he can handle any opposing player who's not a 1/5. There are some teams against which he could easily play as the biggest non-5, and there are some teams (LAL, Philly, Milwaukee) against which he'd get absolutely destroyed playing as the biggest non-5.
Hayward and Tatum have a wider range of teams against which they can be they be the biggest non-5, and against a few teams, they could even be the 5 to close, meaning that with a combination of quickness and shooting, they overcome the constraints that make it advantageous to have one really big guy on the floor. But generally most NBA teams have a 5 against whom that's not the case.
A few teams (LAL, Philly, Milwaukee) have a 5 + another huge, quick, strong guy (LeBron, Horford, Giannis) who would take Hayward or Tatum to the cleaners repeatedly. The Celtics roster (and most NBA rosters) don't really have great counters to this currently, so it's probably not worth freaking out over that edge case. The best ways to handle it probably involve Semi/GWill types, Tatum in the weight room, zone/team defense if there aren't enough shooters on the floor, and LeBron/Al Horford getting older.