Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Death of the Big Man

Oh how the NBA has evolved. No longer is the center centric roster format the popular way to go. Before, most teams were trying to find the next Shaq, now most teams are trying to find the next Stephen Curry. Guard heavy roster construction has become the norm. In fact most teams don't care how tall a player may be as long as he can make a 3 point shot. Along with the statistical overload that has started taking over sports in the last 3 to 4 years the emphasis of the 3 point shot has gotten the biggest boost, because why score 2 points when you can get 3 in the same possession? That train of thought is very much valid, but it has made the likes of Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan almost obsolete. Sure Howard and Jordan can still be relied upon to defend the paint, but in previous versions of the NBA they would not only be the defensive horse, but they'd also be one of the main offensive options. Sure, there's Rudy Gobert in Utah who is still considered one of their main offensive threats, but off the top of my head I think that's the last big man who plays a vital role in the team's offensive thinking.

Think of the Gasol brothers. Marc was a Shaq-like player who played in the paint and along with Zach Randolph made the Grizzlies look intimidating in the paint. Now, he still plays in the paint on defense, but on offense he prefers to take mid-range jump shots and floats to the 3 point line from time to time. Pao has always been more versatile than his brother, taking advantage of what the defense would give him whether it be a mid-range jump shot or a lay up or even the 3 pointer, but as Pao has gotten older he too has banged less in the paint and drifted out to where only guards usually roam. The success of the Golden State Warriors hasn't helped the cause of the big man since they won their title on the backs of position-less basketball rotations anchored by Draymond Green who can guard the opposing team's center and can keep an opposing guard in front him. Sure not every team has a Draymond, but that was never a worry for GMs. Now they all want Green's teammate with the smooth J from 3.