Basketball is a complicated sport. It's got fewer traditional positions than any other team sport, but no less specialization, and far more fluid movement than many others. Two "point guards" can play drastically differently and still play the same basic position. Muthu Alagappan's research makes some sense of that.
Basically, Alagappan looks at what you're doing and where you're doing it. Instead of calling the tallest guy on the court the center, figure out if he's primarily a scorer—from the post or as a shooter?—or a rebounder or a defender. And then do similar for everyone else. The data is then laid onto topological charts, which relate the data sets into shapes.
Alagappan's original paper from last year, presented at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, had 13 possible positions. The new list has been refined to 10, with many of the old positions changed from qualitative to descriptive terms. "3-point slasher" and "Two-way All-Star" replace designations like "One-of-a-kind" and "All-NBA-1st-Team". Here are the 10 new positions: