Growing up I was a big, and slow, kid in my neighborhood. So the players I always liked to watch were other post up centers like Shaq, Ewing, and Hakeem. However, looking around at the league now, the best bigmen are just defenders, or play a face up game, enter Bosh, Dirk, Chandler, Howard, etc. Some people wonder why the back to the basket “throwback” game is disappearing, but the answer is obvious.
Some try to say all bigmen want to be like a guard. They want to shoot, and run on the fast break, and play a flashy game, but that’s not the main culprit. It boils down to two things. First is sustainability, the easiest way to make it to the NBA and stay for a long time is to be able to space the floor. Many players have made a career, and a lot of money, from just camping corners and knocking down open threes. Remember Peja? Shooting ability also doesn’t discriminate. I know most guards seem to be more consistent shooters, but that’s only because they put in the time. Looking around the league today, they are plenty of players who are 6’10 and above who can stroke it from downtown. Actually, a small jumping set shot allows for more consistency. So having good height allows for bigs to take set shots even if they are contested without worrying about getting their shot blocked as much.
The next reason is the overall athletic ability and speed of the game. Players are getting bigger, stronger, and faster. It used to be that throwing the ball into the post to a dominate scorer was the best way to get the defense to collapse and double team, and get your team open shots. Now with guys flying all over the arena, defenses can easily double team, and then rotate to help the helper, and minimize the best post-up guys. The NBA changing the hand-checking rules also makes it much easier for quick guards to break down the defense as the most effective form of offense now. The only way to counteract this trend is to make the court more wide. Although this gives more space for quick players to get free, it will penalize those who trap with more open shot opportunities. This applies to the college game too. More and more, dominate bigmen can be schemed against, but as Adidas says, quick ain’t fair.