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Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 8/27/15

Wednesday brought with it an entertaining Twitter debate (hat tip to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel) between Heat center Hassan Whiteside and Warriors forward Draymond Green, who had a back-and-forth exchange regarding the merits of small ball versus traditional big men holding down the pivot. It should go without saying that Whiteside was in the pro-big man corner, while Green, whose Warriors captured the NBA crown this past season using a smaller lineup, was firmly in the opposing camp.

The last four NBA titles have been won by teams willing, and in the case of Golden State, preferring, to utilize smaller, faster, non-traditional lineups to get the job done, so that helps Green’s point. It would appear in today’s NBA that outside shooting and positional versatility, and perhaps ambiguity, are more valuable than size and strength. Having grown up with the privilege of watching the likes of Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, and Shaquille O’Neal play in their primes certainly makes it difficult at times for me to embrace the league’s new style of play. The basketball purist in me still bristles at 6’8″ power forwards playing center, or seeing 7-footers who are more adept at launching three-pointers than they are at scoring with their backs to the hoop. But on the flip side of the coin, I can certainly appreciate the skill and athleticism that today’s taller players possess.

This segues into the topic of the day: Is the traditional NBA big man a thing of the past, or is small ball just a passing fad?

Do you think that the league has completely moved on from the concept of back-to-the-basket big men, or will the next revolutionary concept be a return to the post-up game? Is this shift more a result of a lack of talent at the position, or is the ever-increasing athleticism of players rendering the traditional ideas we had regarding positions obsolete? Do you miss the older style of play and watching two 7-footers wrestling for post position, or are you a fan of the quicker tempo and reliance on the deep ball of today’s frontcourt players?

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions, or to just wax nostalgic about your favorite big man you watched while you were growing up. We look forward to what you have to say.

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15 thoughts on “Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 8/27/15

  1. Chuck Myron

    My feeling is that this is cyclical, and we’ll eventually see another era of great post-up players. Some of it is stems from the rules changes of a dozen years ago that made it easier to get to the basket on dribble-drives, but a lot of it has to do with personnel. In 2009, Rafer Alston and Derek Fisher were the starting point guards in the Finals. Today, we have the best collection of point guards the league has ever seen. Things will change again.

  2. Jeremy N

    It’s actually kinda ironic.. the Heat were the team that “proved” the traditional 5 was dead when they won 2 titles with “positionless” basketball revolutionized by Erik Spoelstra… now the Heat have arguably the most physically gifted big man in the NBA.. and they are on the opposite side of the issue. If the Heat make succeed in bringing BACK the traditional 5 after destroying the concept… does that make Spo an all time great coach?

    • Eddie Scarito

      Excellent point. I think if Spoelstra can snag another NBA title without LeBron he has to at least be considered as one of the greats. At the very least he’s shown a remarkable ability to adapt his coaching style to his personnel. Not to mention getting star players to buy in to these changes. No easy task in today’s player-driven league.

    • formerlyz

      I wouldnt call Whiteside a completely traditional 5 though. He does a lot of the things that you want the current day 5 to do. The one thing I would say he could improve is pick and roll defense. Ya, he has shown the capability to post up at times, and he also showed a pretty decent face up game from 14 feet out, but I think that is more of a thing they’ll go to in certain matchups. I dont see them calling too many plays for him. Also, if they do start to go to him as a primary option in certain situations, he needs to improve his passing. I dont remember him passing out of any of those situations last season, so once it was dumped into Whiteside in the post, the possession was generally over

      • Jeremy N

        You’re talking about a guy who hasn’t stayed in one place for an entire year since college.. let the kid develop a bit. Imagine if he had 5 NBA seasons under his belt now? He’s be a top 3-5 center already. He has all the physical ability in the world… lets see if he can use it. If he can.. the Heat are very very dangerous

        • formerlyz

          I’m not denying that at all. He is clearly incredibly talented in multiple areas, and I wouldnt put it past him to improve his pick and roll defense. I was just saying that I dont think you have to pigeonhole him into saying that he is a “traditional 5.” I do think he has the ability to see more plays called for him, but with the way our team is, I personally think he is better used as primarily a DeAndre Jordan type

  3. smittybanton

    The most efficient shot in basketball is one at the rim, by an elite finisher.

    If DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond could shoot free throws, we would’nt be talking about small ball. This generation’s big men have been taught to face up and shoot threes, haven’t been taught post moves, and offensive foul calls have been in vogue ever since that became the only way to stop Shaq.

    The Spurs just won a chip with a fairly traditional offense. Miami won because they had the best player in the world. And GS didn’t take over in the finals until Andre Igoudala started and was banging mid range shots. How did “small ball” somehow prove itself a better system, as some would have us believe?

    Analytics and advanced statistics are very useful. But they’re being exaggerated by fans who focus primarily on fantasy basketball and front office “intellectuals” that are trying to wrestle control (jobs) away from former players and towards graduates from elite colleges who work through the ol’ boys network. Just a new network.

    Same thing in baseball. As Chuck said, its cyclical.

    • Chris Crouse

      I agree.The last several NBA champions didn’t prove small ball is better. It proved that you need adaptability on your team. GS played a lot of small ball, but they wouldn’t have made it through Memphis without a traditional big man.

  4. soul

    I have no doubt that great post scorers can still score, and another one could emerge in the NBA, but I also have two big questions: can post scorers pass out of the relentless double teams of today’s NBA, and do players want to get bruised up playing back to the basket or do they want to shoot, catch lobs, and stay healthy longer?

    • Eddie Scarito

      Given the high injury rates among centers lately, you make a good point.

  5. Jacob Jackson

    I do not think it’s cyclical. Three is worth more than two. And now that the league has fully embraced that fact, it will presumably continue to recognize that three is worth more than two.

    I actually don’t think it’s tilted as far as it should yet, even. Danny Green should’ve been maxed out by someone the first day of this offseason. (He still might’ve chosen the Spurs, but some team should’ve offered 4 years/$70M right out of the gate. Enes Kanter and Omer Asik were overpaid. We are still seeing teams pay a premium for size even when it negatively impacts floor spacing, despite clear evidence that you can’t win a title without great floor spacing.

    • Robert G.

      I think I agree with jacobjackson here–it’s not cyclical. I still think size and post-ups can succeed at a championship level. What I think is gone for good is using a high percentage of possessions on postups. They are still a useful weapon, for some teams more than others, but not at the usage rate as in the past. For example, Memphis can win a title as currently constructed because Gasol can work in or out, he can pass, and they can back up that kind of offensewith a strong perimeter defense that takes advantage of Gasol’s size on the defensive end.
      The factor that I think is most critical in making a big man effective these days is, he’s got to be a skilled passer–both out of double-teams and those deft interior passes to cutters. Then the post-up becomes another weapon, among many. I’m excited to watch Karl-Anthony Towns here in Minnesota this year for exactly that combination of skill sets that he has. When you can post AND shoot from outside AND be a skilled passer, then the defense is going to struggle to contain you and your slashing, three-point-chucking teammates.

  6. formerlyz

    Right now, there is a lot of value in being able to create your own shot, and most bigs cant do that. The reason you want more skill guys on the floor, is that it allows you to get out in transition easier, as you dont always require an outlet pass, and you have multiple players that can facilitate. You still have to establish something inside, whether it be dribble penetration into the paint, or with ball movement. That opens up the perimeter a little more, and we see the shooting across the league, which will only increase in importance, as its obviously a more efficient shot. You generally want those skill players to be lengthy, athletic, and versatile so that they can cover ground, and be disruptive defensively, which creates those easy offense opportunities in transition

    Right now, the big isnt obsolete. They just have a different role. You want a guy that can run the floor, defend the pick and roll, protect the rim, and can catch and finish at the basket. The reason why you want someone that can do those things in that role is b/c you dont want someone that needs the ball to be effective at that spot. As I said, those guys cant usually get their own shot. Whenever they have the ball in their hands, that means your guards and other playmakers dont have the ball. Then, even if you just have them on the floor, not necessarily with the ball, they clog up the lane b/c nobody has to guard them outside the paint. Also, it tends to slow the game down when you look to get scoring opportunities in the half court by running post offense through a big. Thats fine if you have an elite defense, but you still need to play with some pace. It is nice to have for the playoffs though, as its difficult to score, and you need to be able to get some easy baskets.

    Its hard to say where the game will go as time moves forward. I would think that we’ll be seeing more pace and space basketball for the foreseeable future though. Still, I think skill development is very important, and I think versatility will continue to become more and more important. I think that all of that being said, matchups are incredibly important, so there is definitely spots on NBA rosters for different styles, and there are moments, as I mentioned, where a post up big can be of real use

  7. Jeremy N

    Can I make a site suggestion? It’s highly frustrating to see a typo on a comment I leave and not have the ability to edit / fix that typo. Can we get an edit feature for comments? I usually write a post in 5-10 seconds and forget to self edit.

    • Chuck Myron

      Sure, that sounds like a good idea. I’ll see if I can get some tech people on that.

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