Thursday, November 20, 2014

Is The Microwave the X-Factor?

Tuesday X-Factor announced the pick-up of Carl Markowski, formerly of Aftershock, for the 2015 season and as usual the internet onlookers offered up nearly universal praise, predictions of success and congratulations. Which is all well and good--and considerably better than sticks, stones and Romany curses--but it also provides an opportunity to take a closer look. Too often high profile player movement is uncritically assumed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread and frankly I think it too often, intentionally or unintentionally, influences how lower level teams look at improving their own rosters. (I am not, btw, suggesting that picking up Carl was or will be a mistake but it does provide a real life example to analyze. The same holds true of the major roster shake-up at Heat which VFTD will also analyze in a future post.)
Breaking down the X-Factor roster reveals a number of interesting, related factoids. Billy and Mykel are primarily snake leads. Meter plays both snake wire positions but is a better lead than support. The primary snake side support (insert) is Archie. And according to PBA stats he played 86% of the team's points (while earning top gun honors.) Dixon can play anywhere but mostly plays snake side or center. Besides Arch the principle snake side players ranged between 58% - 50% of the points played. Now toss Carl into that mix and realistically he simply takes spins from other players. Does he play the snake side better than the others? That is at present an unknown. One alternative is to begin moving some players around. Experiment and see if there are any performance advantages to be gained by being more flexible. However by 2014 stats Colt played 84% of the points while Scotty played 67% and they typically work together as the primary pairing on the D-wire. Grayson frequently filled in on the D-side or in the Home. So where and how does Carl fit? It's not enough to simply grab a really good player.
Even the best players aren't plug and play. And as a team sport each of the players have roles to fill and in a given point particular jobs to do and it is critically important when working to improve a roster that first one understands the team's current strengths and weaknesses in order to focus on needs. Ideally then roster additions are both good chemistry fits and address areas of weakness with personal strengths that will enhance overall team performance.
Let me put it another way. If your team needs a d-wire lead you don't solve that concern by bringing in the best local player (not on the team) if that player's strength is playing an insert or support role. Yes, he's a very good player but if he isn't what the team needs then you haven't addressed your real area of concern and gotten better as a team in ways that change the outcome of matches.
So what about the Markowski pick-up? If X-Factor is losing a dedicated snake side player or making a change Carl brings a lot of potential pluses and fits the team's aggressive style. On that score it can't be faulted. And Carl is versatile enough to play either wire so in that regard he's a net positive but the real question is does the Markowski pick-up address the team's most pressing need? Perhaps. Keeping in mind that any roster change impacts the whole team and potentially forces changes that might not otherwise have been made in terms of lines and spins.
Otherwise X-Factor remains a solid Champions team and should continue to be a serious competitor going forward. 

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