No Bogut, no Ezeli, just 4:51 for Mozgov. No country for big men.
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) June 15, 2015
The always smart and clever Dan Devine of Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie made his comment above right around the close of the 1st half of Sunday’s game 5 Warriors’ win over the Cavs. Mozgov would only end up playing an additional four and a half minutes all night (and did not start the 2nd half), Ezeli got a shade over three minutes all game, and Bogut did not play at all. No country for big men, indeed.
After the game, both head coaches were asked about the decision to play their big men as few minutes as they did. I’m paraphrasing, but Steve Kerr cited the desire to speed the game up to a tempo more his team’s liking while Blatt dodged the question entirely, simply noting that what his team was doing was working (noting “the game was close the entire time”).
This shift away from big men, especially sine it has occurred on the league’s biggest stage, combined with the excellent play of LeBron and Curry while each team trots out lineups filled with other versatile wing players has reinvigorated the discussion about the direction of the league and how it has become, essentially, a “guard’s league”.
In a way, I really don’t blame people for making these conclusions. After all, if you watch the myriad of perimeter difference makers the Warriors deploy or watch LeBron almost single handedly keep his team in games by making plays all over the floor as a scorer and facilitator, it’s easy to become intoxicated with the style of play we are watching.
However, I would caution against tilting too far away from any perspective which does not properly value big men. The NBA hasn’t so much become a game dominated by wings as much as it has become a game dominated by the most skilled players. And those players, for the most part, are wings.
But this does not mean skilled big men do not have immense value in this league. Sure, either the Warriors ore the Cavs will win the championship this season, but if you look back at the championship teams through the past decade and a half, you see names like Duncan, Bosh, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, KG, Nowtizki, Rasheed, and Shaq. Not all of these players were “Centers”, but all operated as foundational pieces within their teams offensive and defensive schemes.
When looking at the draft, both Karl Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor can only hope to reach the heights some of the names mentioned above did, but when hoping so, it is important to note both have a high enough skill level to do so. Towns, as we have discussed, has an inside power game combined with an ability to stretch his game to the perimeter which is not often seen. Of course, there are fewer questions about Towns than there are, it seems than about Jahlil Okafor.
As for Okafor, we love to pick him apart, but his deft low-post scoring and ability to pass and make reads against schemes meant to slow him are key traits needed for any big man working 15 feet and in. When making the leap to the NBA, he has the tools to be able to operate in the hub of most any offensive scheme as a scorer and a playmaker for others. Defensively we have our question marks — valid ones, I’d add — but only time will reveal if he’ll be able to use his physical tools (length, strength, quick feet) to be in the right position and challenge shots often enough to be a key contributor on that end.
Of course, neither will be guards facilitating offense via pick and roll initiations or wing isolations on a cleared side from the three point line. But both have the skill needed to be able to operate from the middle of the floor as scorers or passers, making correct decisions to help their teams excel.
So, while it’s reasonable to glorify the excellent guard and wing play being displayed in the Finals, it is not reasonable to look at Bogut or Mozgov and equate that to the value of all big men moving forward. For one thing, the Finals are about winning one series against a specific opponent who has certain strengths and weaknesses to counter and exploit. But second, and even more important, some big men can also play the skill game and bring enough diversity of game and polish to thrive no matter what direction the league is evolving. After all, the name of the game will almost always be to get the ball as close to the hoop as possible to create the most makable shots. Big men who can do it consistently will never go out of style.
I think Jerry and I are basketball twins… I wouldn’t work for a team that thought Love was a max money player and on top of that wanted to trade away good talent to pay him that.
Calvin Chang says
Aaron – Do you think the Cavs win tomorrow? What’s your take on Blatt going small and benching Mozgov? If you were in Blatt’s shoes, what adjustments would you make to extend the series to 7?
Calvin Chang says
If I were Blatt, I’d put Mozgov and Lebron in pick and roll on offense. Warriors don’t seem to have an answer for that. Then on defense, I’ll intentionally foul Iguodala and slow the pace down to rest Lebron and see if Iguodala can make his freethrows.
Hack a Iggy eh?
That’ll put the cavs in the penalty sooner, allowing steph et all to clean up at the line. But why not try something different? Worse case they lose, and they are on track to do that anyway.
Renato Afonso says
Good post. For all of you watching the finals and talking about not drafting a big, please watch the Atlanta-cleveland series again. Thompson and Mozgov were the ones that Atlanta couldn’t keep off the glass… It’s about matchups and the talent available. If there’s a wing player in the draft as talented or able to impact the game as much as Curry or James, then please draft him. Otherwise…
Calvin Chang says
R – hacking Iggy would allow Lebron and Delly to rest, take Steph out of his rhythm, slow the game down to a grind and get the Warriors to score less points. If Iggy makes 50%, 1 point is better than Steph shooting 3s. Cavs have a lot of bodies that can give up 6 fouls. Marion, Harris, Mike Miller, James Jones. If Iggy is missing from the line, that might force Kerr to bench him. Of course, if Iggy is making his freethrows, that’s a big issue.
Craig W. says
Youngsters look at Dirk and KD, not Shaq and Hakeem. People are practicing their 3s, not any back-to-the-basket moves. This means there are going to be fewer skilled centers coming into the league. This means few teams will have a skilled center.
When you consider that teams must have several skilled players and a reasonable bench, you see that the few centers there are may not have teams around them to support a championship run.
All this is to explain why – IMO – we aren’t seeing as many really good centers in the finals. Cleveland’s bigs really dominated GS in the paint for a game, but their wings and guards couldn’t guard the perimeter – GS’s strength. It is instructive to note that neither team is shooting particularly well in this finals – good defense. In that environment bigs should become even more valuable.
Again IMO – a well constructed team with good bigs and fast wing players could better compete with GS.
Calvin Chang says
Funny when Lebron said he’s the best player on the planet in his press conference last night, he sounded like he was just thoughtfully stating a fact – like saying the sky is blue. And he’s absolutely right.
It seems like Okafor’s elite skill, low post scoring, is mentioned as an aside. Hes already great at doing something most others at his position are largely mediocre at and hes 19. And hes a good passer and has tge tools to be at least an average defender.
And this small ball over reaction happened in 2013 when the spurs stopped playing Splitter after game 3 or 4. Well Splitter raised his level of skill the next season and was able to stay on the floor and have an impact. Like Darius said, its skill, being able to do multiple things at an NBA level.
Couldn’t agree more on fouling Iggy. He’s been an X factor in the series but his free throw shot looks broken. I’m not sure I would do it for game 6, but if I were Blatt and the Cavs win that game I would unleash it in game 7. Iguodala would be shooting 20-25 free throw in game 7 and would pretty much spending the entire 4th quarter at the line.
@Craig, I completely agree with you. If you get Towns or Okafor you have your bigs (with Randle who should be able to guard stretch fours rather well). How they get their guards outside of Clarkson will have to be in FA or trades (which would mean trading something of value). But I think you can find good guards or wings (not as easy as people think but you are grabbing from a larger pool). Team building isn’t easy but bigs are still the second hardest thing to find (the hardest being a true superstar).
Big Men: So I guess when one team decides to go “small” – that automatically forces the other team to go small. Why didn’t anyone think of that in the year 2000? The best way to beat the Lakers was to put in 5 guys who were 6-4 and could shoot threes. Phil would have been forced to pull Shaq and go “small”. Right? : ) Big men will be out of style until everyone goes small, quick, and shoots threes, then a great coach will take a great big man and dominate the league, because there will nobody there to stop him.
No point in PNR because the Warriors are switching everything with the small lineup. I would however keep Mozgov in the game because he is the only player that can create his own shot (with the Warriors small) besides lbj. James needs rest. Any rest. I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten hurt yet. I don’t think LBJ can win tomorrow since he is traveling across country with only one day off. He will be gassed. I’ll be happy if LBJ doesn’t break his leg tomorrow. That’s all I’m hoping for if I’m a cavs fan. Just don’t end your career tomorrow LeBron.
That’s how Detroit beat us in 04. Shaq was no longer athletic enough to defend against the PNR. Before that you couldn’t go small against Shaq because he was so athletic. Teams did try and go small against Shaq just to get him out of the paint defensively. But then Shaq would crush you in the post and on the glass.
Baylor Fan says
I am on board with drafting the most talented player regardless of position and, if players are close, go for size. It would be interesting to get the Lakers European scout’s evaluation of Porzingis.
LaBron has dominated the games until he finally tires in the 4th or OT. Fouling Igoudala would be a way to get him the rest he needs to stretch out his minutes. If Igoudala continues to miss, maybe he even would get benched. No harm in trying.
Jay Man says
Long-time reader here chiming in with his thoughts. Big men will always have a place in the league. All it takes is one team to purposely slow it down, make a solid post-entry pass to the big guy, and let him go to work on offense. A high-efficiency big man with good post moves will more or less hinder or stop the fast break, which will lead to less transition opportunities.
As for the draft, in some ways it reminds me of the Dwight Howard/Emeka Okafor draft debate. Granted, Emeka was a defensive monster in college that ended up measuring something like 6’8 without shoes, but it seems like this draft’s debate between the slow but fundamentally sound Okafor/ athletic and super defensive beast Towns is eerily similar, right down to the fact that Jahlil is related to Okafor.
I think that Blatt matching GSW by going small was an error. It played into what the Warriors wanted to do pace-wise, tired out he 7-man rotation that he’s using to the point where they were just not up to it in the 4th, and basically said “you guys have outwitted me” to the opposition.
I agree with some of the earlier statements: Use the LeBJ/Mozgov p-n-r, hack Iguadala a bit more to manage pace, and in so doing, why not give Marion at least a little bit of run? Cleveland need to extend their rotation by at least one player for mine, if only to try to keep some of their personnel a bit more rested for the 4th quarter. Yesterday’s 4th was the first 30 point quarter that the Warriors have managed at home in the series, and while Steph was lights out, the sheer exhaustion of the Cavs was an obvious contributing factor.
Wow Robert you are on to something. Good thing opposing coaches during the three peat years didn’t figure this out :0)
I dunno, somehow claiming that big men are out of style reminds me of somebody trying to claim curvy women Zare out of style. Riiiight. :0)
T. Rogers says
I thought about Shaq in his prime as well. No disrespect, but Bogut and Mosgov aren’t game changers. If there was a young Shaq, Duncan, or Olajuwon out there it would be different. Heck, even the old Duncan is not getting run off the floor. When is the last time anyone saw Pop pull Duncan because the other team went small? Never.
I do agree zone’s make posting up more challenging. But a great big man with a great coach can still exploit teams down low.
Mikey K. says
The Kevin Love trade for Klay would’ve have been fantastic for G.State. The fact that Olynyk ripped Love’s shoulder out of socket should’t confuse anyone from understanding that if that one dangerous, dirty play doesn’t happen, Cleveland would have just won the championship 4-1 or 4-0, BECAUSE Golden State didn’t make the trade.
Getting lucky because of a freak playoff injury doesn’t retroactively excuse stupidity. It simply mitigates the damages. Here, G.State will probably grab a championship because their opponent was disqualified due to injury. But, if LeBron’s offensive option was named Love, instead of Shumpert, Smith, Dellavedova, or Thompson.. or Mozvog… the first game wouldn’t make it to overtime. And the last 2 wouldn’t have resulted in LeBron wearing down going one on 4 for 45 minutes per game.
A Lebron-Love pick and roll would have easily outproduced anything the Warriors have been scrambling to get. In other words, GState is basically neck and neck 44 minutes into the game. You take away 15-20 stupid shots and plays by Shumpert, Smith, Thompson and the rest, and give them to a guy who can put up 25 ppg on 60% true shooting… that’s an easy double digit lead favoring Cleveland every night… and that’s before you get to the rebounding and passing.. and ability to spell LeBron for longer.
The crowing about turning down the Klay for Love deal is a salute to a terrible decision that was bailed out by a freak injury. Not an endorsement of Klay’s amazing playmaking, his superb defense, his ability to take people off the dribble.. or all of the other stupid promises invoked a year ago when GState overestimated his ability. True, he’s an epic catch and shoot player. And he has been nullified in this series to the point that LeBron’s fatigue, and the injury to both of his only other two competent players, is providing GState this ugly win.
Doc rivers is an idiot ….. guy should have had hawes in his rotation in the playoffs but waited too long … When he finally played he was good …. and barnes was their best wing player last year and only non crawford 3pt shooter who played solid d and did all of things he needed to offball …. now they get a ball dominant sg who plays the same position as his son who has lost his 3pt shot
GM Rivers….. still an idiot
Great post. This is a favorite topic of mine. Many people feel that big men are, somehow, irrelevant in today’s game because of zone defenses, spacing, and the prevalence of the 3-point shot. I wholeheartedly disagree.
These things simply go in cycles. Today (possibly because of the lure of the 3-point line), there are many wing players who are very adept at shooting from long distance. But there was actually a time when the big man ruled in the NBA. The following link talks about some of the outstanding bigs in the 1970s: http://thehoopdoctors.com/2011/08/top-10-centers-of-the-1970%E2%80%99s/
Some of these players have, unjustifiably, been long-forgotten: Nate “The Great” Thurmond (best season: 20.5 ppg, 22 rpg, 4.2 apg), Bill Walton (1977 Finals MVP on a great Portland team; 1978 NBA MVP), Wes Unseld, Bob Lanier, Dave Cowens, Wes Unseld (an undersized center but a great rebounder with probably the best outlet pass the game has ever seen), Willis Reed, and, of course, Kareem Abdul Jabbar who in the 70s averaged 28.6 ppg, 14.8 rpg, and 4.4 apg. Furthermore, Kareem was in the playoffs 18 times (!) and was the Finals MVP in 1971 and 1985, 14 years apart.
These players were to be followed by another generation of great centers: David Robinson, Arvydas Sabonis (whose best years were in Europe prior to his two Achilles injuries), Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquile O’Neal.
Nowadays, such players seem to have vanished. There are no Kareems or Wilts or Moses Malones or Hakeems. When Shaquile left the game, the era of great centers seems to have died. Marc Gasol could not have started on these teams. But in this day and age, he’s a first team NBA Center.
Coaches like Steve Kerr “go small” not out of philosophy but out of expedience. His best players happen to be wings (of which he has several). Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli are not his best players. So he capitalizes on what he has. It’s that simple.
I assure you, if either Steve Kerr or David Blatt had Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem or Hakeem or Willis Reed in his prime, he’d be giving them minutes. In fact, if either had Wilt, he’d be able to play him 48 minutes.
This is the “Age of Wing Players,” then, not because of the validity of that philosophy but because there simply are not many — if any — truly great centers in the league today. Who’s to say? Maybe Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will change all of that.
Looks like there’s some news from down the hall at Staples….
I have a new computer and when I typed in my name, I misspelled my tag. My apologies.
I have corrected it. I am Mid-Wilshire, once again.
Craig W. says
A zone around Shaq in his prime is still not real effective. An offensive big, with size and hands, can destroy a zone as long as you have someone who can pass the rock. Golden State against an effective, mobile big – he doesn’t have to be exceptionally quick, but it is better if he is large – better not go small on defense. The problem is on the GS offensive end, but the defense has to be able to funnel the players to the middle.
All this is not easy; Golden State is a very good team, but playing exclusively small ball wouldn’t have worked against Memphis. Kerr is a good coach because he is flexible, has various different tools, and listens to his players and coaches. If Jerry West had much to do with assembling this team – IMO he did – he certainly gave them a lot of options. Only one of those was to go small. Therefore, I don’t take away from this series that everyone should be playing small ball. It works against this Cleveland club.
Here is a statement I will make about the Finals. Cavs were mismatched after losing Verajao, Love and Irving. They made good strides but not enough to match the rain of three’s from the Dubs. On the contrary, W’s have no chance of winning against the teams of the 80’s Lakers, Celtics, Rockets and Pistons, include here the Bulls because they have no reliable Center. One deficiency of Blatt’s coaching he’s punishing his players with too many minutes of p/t while without a stable defender to stop the Splash Brothers. Marion, Miller and Perkins and Harris were all left on the bench.
Honestly, i dont care about the finals….it was over before it really began….cleveland was just undermaned only able to go 6-7 deep really
What i do care about is this excellent post of mr. Soriano…..i think a great low post scorer a la okafor/towns will be dominating the league for years…you dont have an answer for a guy like that once timmy retires…m.gasol is losing a step every year, noah was a shell of himself last year and will continue to decline due to injuries and fatigue he endured the last few years under coach thibs, and cousins cant defend a stone…all the other bigs are a joke right now….the league is there for us to take over if we can develop our big properly over the next 2-3 years, cant see nobody stopping okafor or towns right now, much less after 2 years of work with kareem…..the future is bright, guys!
– Talented big men will never be “out of style”. If Shaq was a draft candidate today, do you really think anyone would consider passing him up to draft a wing or pg?
– Basketball is bias, size matters. Best man in this Finals when “small ball” is being played is the biggest man.
Darius is right about skilled players. The reason I like Towns is that he`s skilled,big,and versatile. He can be a key piece in any type of lineup and makes his FF 80%+. Okafor is more restricted,although a very good post player who will continue to build his body and game. Neither player is polished on defense, and this is the area where both will find their biggest challenges as rookies.
Craig W. says
It is instructive to note that the ‘paint’ was enlarged twice because of big centers – both were Lakers in their careers – in an effort to limit their ability to ‘camp out’ near the basket. Big men are also hard to move and change the path to the basket for wings.
IMO we get Oakfor with our pick and he will be an offensive presence in his rookie year. Maybe not dominant, but he will make a difference for our team as a rookie. I am excited to see him play. Towns may have more upside, but he is less likely to make as big a difference in his rookie year. I won’t be disappointed if we get him.
Baylor Fan says
” When is the last time anyone saw Pop pull Duncan because the other team went small?”
Game 6, 2013 NBA finals against the Heat with about a minute to go in the game. Last time Popovich made that mistake.
david h says
hey darius: make no mistake, your subliminal message to laker front office: Big Men and the Skill Game of the NBA Finals should ring loud and clear.
Still chanting, OAK-A-FOR MINN-A-SOTA.
Go lakers !
I believe the value of the small player has been undervalued. Sure there is Chamberlain, Kareem, and Shaq but there was also West, Magic, and Kobe.
Small players tend to be safer bets. The game has sped up and as human bodies are made big bodies are just subject to more wear and tear and more likely to suffer injuries especially to the feet.
The rules have changed. Things like hand checking and fore arms, have been removed from the game when guarding players facing up. It has just made it much harder to guard quick moving smaller players.
The allowance of zone defense has drastically changed how effective posting can be. If we think back to the 2000 play offs between the Lakers and Kings we see this in action. The Kings started to basically sag the help defender off his man and and prevent Shaq from being able to post up. Phil made an adjustment later on in the series to have the guy from whom the guy was sagging on Shaq to go out to the 3pt line. Shaq would then point at it and the official would then have to call the illegal defense. Today this would be perfectly legal.
Aaron, made a great point about switching defenses I’d like to add to, In the playoffs teams have resorted to switching to try and stay in front of Golden State’s quick offense. However, if a player lacked size was invlolved the switch it lead to a mismatch. Green in an interview said that he couldn’t post up on too many guys in the NBA at his position but if he saw one of these small guys on him he would quickly take advantage of them in the post as he learned to do in college. This is leading to the emergence I believe of combo guards or double big PG back courts. It is ideal to have guys who can defend the guys they pick up when defending off the switch.
The evolution of the game, the rule changes, have redefined what ideal players look like compared to 10 or 20 years ago
@Vasheed except if you look at the injuries it is mostly small players. I think they are built for speed and therefore like race horses have everything streamlined. This makes it easier to get injured. The bigs that have foot problems are the same ones that have always had problems (ie Waton, Bynum, Embiid, Oden, etc) Those that have their bodies built in a weird way. Doctors have put up red flags on those players and GMs usually just gamble on them because of their talent.
Players can sag towards a post player but there are counters. You can post up out of a PNR which gives you the same action as a normal PNR. You can throw it to the post and make quick passes (leaving the defense scrambling). You can have the player whose man is sagging cut. This forces them to make a decision. Memphis doesn’t seem to have an issue with two post players, so I don’t think having one is a big hindrance. Yes you have to build your offense around what teams will do but that is every offense.
Craig W. says
I think there is too much emphasis on the game changing. IMO, the game is changing because there are fewer big men who can dominate the paint. The Euro game has always been skillful shooting and extra mobile big men, all working as a team with no real star. That model is being imported to the NBA, but with stars added. Therefore, youngsters are emulating this mobile style – more fun to play as a kid anyway. The result is fewer big men who understand the back-to-the-basket game.
However, if you find one of these – Marc Gasol – you would be well advised to take advantage of it. If the front office thinks Oakfor is one of these big men, then they would be foolish to pass on him.
P.S. Having stars complicates this team first attitude, because stars demand the ball more. Golden State and San Antonio are the only two franchises that have avoided this, so far, and the Warriors are still pretty young and could succumb to this problem.
P. Ami says
Nice post Darius and I think this idea of basketball skills being the key determinate of success in the NBA is spot on. In today’s game, get Shaq the ball and you’ll still see him slam the ball home with three players draped to him like a Superman cape, flapping in the wind of his passing.
The more I think about Okafor the more I like him. While he is clearly skilled in the post, consider the tools he uses to be effective there. He has quick, agile feet that position themselves to keep balance (footwork). He is long limbed with giant and soft hands. He has an excellent dribble in the post and can handle in the confined space of the college paint. He has incredible court vision, patience and passing ability. He rebounds very well. How does this convert to the NBA game?
The NBA game is a pick and roll game. While being explosive has made players like Dwight deadly on the P&R, this part of his game largely functions despite an okay handle, average court vision, and robotic post game. He uses his mobility and explosiveness to succeed in the pick and roll. It looks to me like Okafor can be an excellent target on the P&R. He is big and strong, which means he can set good picks. He has soft hands and excellent touch around the rim. This means he can catch the ball and finish on the move. He moves his feet well and has excellent footwork. This means he can cut to the basket and be in position to use his strong body, soft touch and good instincts to make shots after a dribble or two in the paint. He is patient in the paint, which tells me he can finish creatively as well.
I’m starting to see Okafor as a player capable of creating difficulties in the NBA’s most fundamental offensive schemes, not just in the post. Not only that, but with his passing instincts and skills, he should also be very good at kicking it out to the perimeter when teams collapse to defend the P&R. With Okafor the Lakers can both hurt teams in the post and play the modern game. Bottom line, skills will win out.
Next season could see the Lakers utilizing Okafor in the 2/5 Pick and Roll with Kobe. Anderson (please, please, please) would be a great fit at the 3. He could be a spot up shooter that attacks close outs. He’ll have more space in the NBA then the NCAA gave him. I want to see how Randle’s game has developed over this last year. A 4/5 pick and roll is really interesting as Houston was really effective using it and I expect Golden Julius to have a more consistent shot than Smith does. His ability to be a threat from the top of the key would be huge.
I would still prefer to draft a rim protector but I think its important to note that Okafor is not just a post player. He is a basketball player with lots of useful skills that will translate to the modern NBA.
long time lurker, first time poster
i thought the game is changing primarily because of rule change (hand check, zone)
because new rule doesn’t favor inside play, less center choose to develop inside skill
Whether it is Okafor or Towns both are 19 years old who have the potentials to become Big Dipper or Sam Bowie. It is both extreme because we don’t know how they will cope with the NBA defense and intensity of 100 games per season including the playoffs. You can’t rely from them that much until tried and a proven winner.
However, height is their distinct advantage, logically because a short pivot it brings them much closer to the ring than the small guy chuckling threes on the perimeter. Curry and Thompson are great this year, the version of “microwave player Vinnie Johnson” improved to digitalized age. Can they sustain this high degree of accuracy in long term if they are guarded by a good player as good as Coop’ or the late Dennis Johnson? That remains to be seen. I think small ball is just one strategy that is effective when confronted by opposition that are purely “brick” players from Cavs except Lebron, who are also suffering from fatigue in the waning minutes of the game.
All I am alluding, if you are assembling a team, it should be a complete package based on positions and athleticism not just spreading the offense and heavily dependent on team rebounds like the Mike Dantoni’s team.
i thought the game is changing primarily because of rule change (hand check, zone)
These things are part of it, and also the evolution of the 3-pointer into a foundational offensive weapon for most teams.
Craig W. says
My key when hearing about Oakfor, is his large hands and mobile feet. With a developed offensive game he should help us on offense greatly next year. Our problem will be stopping other teams, regardless who we draft 2nd.
The big hands may also be why he is a poor freethrow shooter. Therefore, I reiterate, get Rick Barry to teach these guys the underhand freethrow technique. In reading the article about Jerry West, I noticed he instructed Harrison Barnes in the art of the underhand lay-in – a-la Wilt Chamberlain’s finger roll – so as to get the proper spin on the ball. The same is true of the freethrow.
I just would like to reiterate this, nobody has seen what Karl Towns can do except for people who saw him play in high school. Before he came to Kentucky he was drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant (if you don’t believe me you can research articles written about him in high school).
His skill level is off the charts and Calipari did him no favors by forcing him to be back to the basket player when he can do so many things on the court. True franchise player, if the Lakers have any doubts about Okafor then they should do everything they can to get that number 1 pick from Minny.
James Katt says
The problem for the NBA is the loss of skilled big men, not the rise of the guards.
The NBA no longer has skilled back to the basket big men. So many big men are simply trying 3-pointers and play a perimeter game.
The NBA has lost skilled big defenders. Bogut and Mozgov as examples of bigs who cannot defend – and therefore should not be on the court.