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.