To be a big man in today’s NBA is likely frustrating. Gone are the days of playing alongside playmakers such as a Jason Kidd, an Isiah Thomas, or John Stockton. Gone are the days of half court offense, running set plays where you touch the ball every possession. Maybe you get double-teamed in the post and kick it out to the open shooter. Maybe you go one one one against your peer with your best move. Pick & roll even.
In the decade of the shooter, today’s game is centered around athletic players who can shoot from anywhere on the court even if it isn’t a great shot.
Steph Curry is a world class deep threat. He stands alone in that respect, although much of the rest of the NBA believes they can shoot the way he does.
For big men who are legitimately skilled, you’re stuck running the floor for nothing, *cough* Andre Drummond *cough* or you adapt and learn how to shoot from distance.
The above Exhibit A is just a snippet of what today’s big men have to deal with, vs what life should be like. I hate to be that guy who clambers on about “back in my day” but, back in my day a point guard had to set the tone for his team. A point guard had to set the table. Decide when to pass, and when to shoot. Not shoot, and pass when it’s highlight worthy, or an opportunity to pad stats.
Andre Drummond is a big man worth building around. If you don’t believe me ask the Pistons front office. The Pistons All-Star Center is just 23 years of age, and easily the most important player on the team. Unfortunately for Drummond, he plays in the wrong decade for Centers. Andre is one of the few who stands out and could be a household name if he touched the ball more.
Drummond averages 14 points a game. In my eyes, Drummond should easily be averaging at least 25 points, but he isn’t the focal point of this Pistons offense, and definitely not this season. Granted, his game doesn’t really go beyond seven feet from the rim, but if he got the touches he should, he would probably expand it. I’m the first to admit, he does need to expand beyond the jump hook he has in his repertoire, maybe even develop a mid-range shot to become more useful. He does have a decent face-up game, when given the opportunity:
Those plays however, are few and far between.
There was one more instance where Drummond has Ian Clark pinned down, and Reggie Jackson looks him off and calls his own number.
It’s not always bad, but the offense is very inconsistent, as players battle over who gets the glory, and whose team it is. However, there is only one All-Star on the team.
What’s going on today is in the same family tree as what’s going on in the NFL. Offense attracts casual fans, and their pocketbooks. Especially high octane offense. Meaning more passes, less running, and more restrictions for the defense. Thus scoring goes up (theoretically), and brings in viewers who wouldn’t necessarily care for the NFL.
In the NBA there is an emphasis to showcase shooters, and high octane run and gun style offenses, then it is, fundamentally sound, slow it down, grind out types. Therefore it’s easy to forget there are plenty of really good, really skilled big men. Kind of like how you’re conditioned to feel as though the San Antonio spurs are “boring.”
One thing I would like to reiterate, is the lack of pass first point guards in the Association. We tend to remember both Karl Malone and John Stockton. Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. And more recently Tony Parker and Tim Duncan.
All of the aforementioned big men had a lead guard who made sure he ate, who made sure he got his. If you think about it, you’re familiar with both men in each tandem because they went hand and hand. Batman & Robin style. One could argue Andre Drummond has no Robin to his Batman. Reggie Jackson could be it, if he realized how much better he, and the team could be if he were to get back to basics. Inside-out-basketball. But until he does we all have to sit and watch Drummond get his cardio in. Hey at least he’s increasing his endurance, so he has more stamina to rebound.
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