talent redistribution

Talent Redistribution (tal'-uhnt re'-dis-trib'-yoo-shun') noun. When one or more players have to be switched from one team to another so that the level of competition will be (roughly) more equal.

Usage example: Damn. That team lost 21-4. Looks like they need some serious Talent Redistribution.

Word trivia: In my experience, most pickup leagues have anywhere from two to four teams competing on any given night. (The number of teams can be and often is greater than that during the prime times at local health clubs and open gyms.) Because teams are chosen by shooting free throws -- the first five to make it comprise team one, the second five team two, and so on -- the actual distribution of talent per team can vary greatly.

Generally speaking, the talent distribution is usually "top heavy," in that the better players tend to hit their free thows, and therefore the first one or two teams end up with better players than the other team or teams.

Of course, there are always situations that can alter this paradigm. For instance, a very good player who typically hits his free throw might miss on his first and even second attempt (assuming it takes that many rounds to shoot up the teams). Or, and this happens a lot in my league, either a very good or remarkably bad player will show up five minutes or so after the games have started. Most of the time, the honor system will kick in and the good player will go to the worst team and the bad player will go to the best team.

Now obviously all teams are not created equal. But sometimes a team sucks so badly that they can't even come close to competing. Like, they will lose every game by a minimum of 10 or more points no matter what they do (and this is using the traditional "1s and 2s" scoring system).

Once it has become clear that one team is going to be haplessly beaten time and again over the course of the night, someone will suggest Talent Redistribution. Sometimes this happens after their first game, but more often than not it happens after they have played at least twice to ensure that the first beating wasn't an aberration. It's standard procedure for members of the bad team to give members of a better team the opportunity to make a Talent Redistribution offer. However, if no offer is made, one or more members of the bad team will probably suggest or even demand it.

In leagues where most of the people know and like each other, Talent Redistribution is usually quick and fair. But nobody likes making their team worse, and Talent Redistribution can result in heated debate and bitter feelings in even the friendliest of leagues.

For instance, there's a player in my pickup league known as Super Mario (because he looks like Mario from the Super Mario Bros. video game). Several years back, Super Mario contracted a case of bacterial meningitis. It almost killed him. He survived, obviously, but the illness left him partially handicapped. Super Mario still plays basketball, but he's so physically limited that he's a liability on both offense and defense. For this reason, the team he's on almost always loses because they're forced to basically play four-on-five.

Some times, Talent Redistribution consists of switching Super Mario from team to team. This can be tricky, however, since he can transform a good team into an awful team. Not surprisingly, nobody wants to play with him, and some people (coughEvilTedcough) get really pissy when Super Mario is "gifted" to their team. This has caused many "day after" arguments. (You know, when you and your buddies discuss the events of the previous night's games over e-mail or in person.)

Talent Redistribution can hit a snag when nobody can agree on a fair and equal switch. In these cases, a trusted league "veteran" will usually step up and act as a sort of Talent Manager. In general, the Talent Manager must have the same basic attributes as a Points Negotiator.

One last note: pickup ballers get pretty upset when Talent Distribution upsets the balance so much that they are unable to win another game (and especially when they're beaten badly after the switchup). This inequity won't be forgotten and can be used in future Talent Distribution debates (e.g., "We got stuck with Super Mario last time and we sucked afterward. Give us Paul instead.")

Note from Evil Ted: Some players have a lack of talent so galling that it can actually eliminate the possibility of fair Talent Redistribution altogether. Instead of just being a "poor player," this person is actually a negative player (a.k.a. Nugatory, Minus Man, Captain Entropy, Anti-game, Boat Anchor, Vaporware). For example, a Super Mario has been known to take a dominant force of a team and turn it into a sad-sack loser. In such cases, said dominant team may actually need to have two players replaced in such a way as to actually strengthen the remaining four.

The Equation works thusly. The dominant team as it begins (with "1" being an average player):

1.2 + 1.3 +1.5 + 1.1 +1 = 6.1

The team with an overall strength of 6.1 can now be decimated by removing any one player and adding Captain Entropy, a fellow who plays no defense and pretty much can't run or do anything competant on the court:

1.2 + 1.3 + 1.5 + (-1) +1 = 4

Note how far the mighty have fallen. This team is getting it's ass kicked, not only because it's overall team strength is just 4, but additionally because the talent is no longer evenly distributed amongst the five players (A neg 1 is throwing the ball away, standing at half court on offense and defense, etc., where even a bunch of .8 guys are getting a hand in the face and the ball around the horn).

Ergo, we must actually bolster the supporting cast for the Minus Man by replacing the worst of the remaining group (Mr. 1) with someone better. The new team is as follows:

1.2 + 1.3 + 1.5 +(-1) + 1.4 = 4.4

This team is now competitive, and may become more so IF they force the Boat Anchor out of the offensive scheme and play help defense. If, however, the good players get dejected and lose their will, this team may still get it's collective ass handed to it repeatedly. This two-for-one paradigm shift may require the institution of a future word of the day: The Mario Rule.

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Blogger Wahab Owolabi said...
whats the word for the guy on the team in desperate need for talent redistribution that fights it because he thinks (sometimes he might be)he is good enough ( a la jordan kobe lebron) to single handily turn his dreadful team around the next game and the next and so on

Blogger Sturla said...
I regulary play pickup ball in my country and hardly ever see that crappy free-throw-selection thing. Usually our "trusted" veteran distriputes the players and makes sure each team has at least one decent point guard and one big guy. Rest is distriputed fairly, so if your team has the best frigging player on the court you also get the lousiest.

And Jesus H. Christ, how I hate those Super Mario types. We had one come for a few nights this summer, and he wasn't just bad but he was also completly clueless about the fact that he had no game whatsoever. I was literally screaming at my teamates if it looked like they were even thinking about passing the ball to him.

I don't mind when a talentless player or somebody really rusty shows up as long as he is aware of that he´s stuck in sucky mode and plays acordingly (plays hard defence, sets picks, rebounds and doesn't mind he never touches the ball on offence). But when they try to be some kind of a superstar and completely fuck up everything for our team, then I just want to hurt somebody. Preferably them.

Anonymous Axe Head said...
I've played with a guy who was getting old, and his defense was unbelievably awful. It was so bad I would tell him to play him close to make him drive, but to funnel his defender to me, and I'd pick him up. Since I'm 6'7", me picking up his man, a driving perimeter guy, but also having to keep cover on my man (usually the biggest man) was _better_ overall shows the desperation of the situation.

And we'd always lose anyway.

Blogger Cortez said...
I have a strategy that has proven effective for me over the years.

Instead of ignoring the "Super Mario" I do the exact opposite in that I go up to him before the game and ask him where he likes the ball and tell him that I am going to screen for him and get him quality shots when available. Then I extend my efforts to make up for his natural flaws.

Since he is going to be highly ignored by the defense anyway, because pickup player don't like exerting themselves on bums, I try to convince him that 2 foot shots from upscreens are his best friend.

Getting the sad sack actively involved seems to keep his spirits and efforts sky high.

Blogger Jon-Michael said...
I play every Thursday night in a pickup league. I was playing along side this guy who is pretty good, but knows it unfortunately. He's a dead ringer from beyond the arc and has a great mid-range shot. Unfortunately, he creates his own shot too AI or Kobe style.

You would think having this buffoon on your team would make your team better. After 3 games of getting pasted 11-5 11-3 and 11-4 we decided we needed to set better screens as a team and distribute the ball better. Well "Kobe junior" didn't agree with this strategy and after my 3rd screen attempt in as many possessions, he yells at me telling me to stop setting screens for him. We lost 11-2 and I sprained my ankle severely in the process. It's been 3 weeks. I'm eagerly awaiting the healing process so I can go out there and set another screen for him just to make him mad. Mwahahahahaha!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Cortez -- In general, that's my strategy too. There's a guy in our league, Paul, who's quite useful if you give him a little guidance.

However, our Super Mario ignores all advice. I think it's because he used to be one of the better players in the league. For the most part, he's done as good a job as he can accepting pretty shitty circumstances. But I think he still has a certain ego about him that he can do certain things...and he will do those things and nothing else regardless of what anybody says to him.

It's weird, too, because I've actually tried to befriend him. I played with his church league one Sunday. I actually tried to gift him with a free Wilson Evolution basketball after he kept trying to use mine during shootarounds (I bring my own so I don't have to share). He literally said, "No, I don't want it."

There's something going on with that guy...I just don't know what it is.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
The addition of those player value formulas are awesome.

Anonymous Wormboy said...
Damn Ted, nice tap dance! :)

Blogger Dan B. said...
Bawful -- "There's something going on with that guy...I just don't know what it is." He's Super Mario! He's got a severe case of blue balls from years and years of rescuing the Princess and not getting anything in return from her, except for her baking him a cake or something stupid like that. Or at least that's my theory.

Blogger kingofkansascity said...
I play pickup ball where we distribute players according to skill to avoid blowouts. Unfortunately, some days the talent just comes out uneven. For example, there are four guys in our league that could have or did play small college ball. There are about six others that could have been, or were, fairly solid high school players, or are just good athletes. There are also three guys that are not good athletes or good basketball players.

So if on a given day you have the seven most talented guys, the team that gets stuck with the least talented guys is probably still screwed because they are essentially half a player down.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
the mario rule?

mario west plays pick up ball?

Blogger mrm3x1can said...
Mr.Bawful, besides your close friends, does anyone one from the local gym read this site?

Anonymous Lucas said...
I'm more of a Ben Wallace type of player, in the sense I'm a decent rebounder and aggressive defender, but I can't shoot outside of point blank layups and putbacks. Would I qualify under your definition of talent redistribution?

@ Cortez: and how sweet it is when you hit that guy with a pass under the basket, he scores and the other team gets mad at the guy not guarding him...

i know I love to pass to bad players in that situation

Anonymous Anonymous said...
How true, how true.One of my talents is to put the hogs all on the same team. They know what's up but they don't want to fess up to it; so they play hard for a while until they start to dog it because they can't get enough touches and usually they get thrashed every game.

Anonymous JoeH said...
At a league I used to play in a few of the better players would always try to do the opposite of talent redistribution. They always purposefully stacked their team. Real winners.

Word verification - bralett. I won't even try to comment.

Blogger Michapalooza said...
Man.... Super Mario must really get under your skin to call him out like this, hope he isn't a regular to your blog? or maybe he is and your trying to send him a message in a fiendish way?

Lets hope Big Mat and Super Mario don't put their superhero heads together to plot the downfall of Basketbawful!

Anonymous matt said...
So that's why I'm always getting moved from team to team!

Blogger Will said...
WV: gate dame
This sounds like it could be a Word of the Day entry. Definitely something derogatory, make it happen!