By Jomari Carreon
Recenty the National Basketball Association announced the starting line-up of it’s annual All – Star game. When I saw the starters, I immediately noticed one thing- that there is no legitimate Center nor Power Forward to start the All – Star Game! Something that I think has happened for the first time in the history of the league.
Starting for the West are two point guards in Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook, a shooting guard in Kobe Bryant (Yes, I still consider him a shooting guard despite him playing more of a small forward this year) along with two small forwards in Khawi Leonard and Kevin Durant. While for the East there will be a point guard in Kyle Lowry, Shooting Guard in Dwayne Wade, and three small forwards in Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony & Paul George. I don’t really know what the coaches will be doing with this kind of line-up but there is one thing that I am sure about, this is a clear indication that the NBA nowadays is dominated by guards and wing men.
The league has truly changed, it is now perimeter guys who make more difference in a game. Gone are the days where the league is dominated by the towering Centers and Power Forwards. Think legends of the game like Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar who used to be the dominating figures in the league. They are the guys who had an unreal combination of height, size, strength and skills. They would punish their defenders once they got good position in the low block, tear down the rim with powerful slams and also make a big difference on the defensive side of the floor with the ability to block plus alter shots. These legendary big men are the type of players that many avid NBA fans miss.
The new generation of NBA bigs are not even close in terms of what those players mentioned above can bring to the table. The main reason why big men nowadays don’t dominate that much is because their role has diminished since most teams have started to move towards playing small ball. From being the main option in offense (where perimeter players would dump the ball to the post and let them do the work), a big man’s role has been limited to at times just setting up screens, getting rebounds and being the last line of defense. Most big men have also become accustomed to shooting more jumpers outside the paint because that is one way for them to be more involved in the team’s offense, like Kevin Love on the current Cavaliers team.
I don’t know if it is healthy for the league and for the fans. Maybe it is just a part of the continuous evolution of the game, but I would love to see the big guys dominate the game once more.