Ever since the Warriors put two of the most prolific three-point shooters in the same backcourt together, along with one of the best-recognized defensive players in the NBA (and the 2016-2017 Defensive Player of the Year), teams have tried to get a leg-up on the Splash Bros. and co.
Of course, adding one Kevin Durant made the NBA arms race for shooters and big scorers a full
marathon, and teams, like the Warriors’ most formidable opponent last year in the Rockets,
focused their offenses on shooting well.
But whatever happened to having that rock in the middle of the lane?
Ask most NBA fans, and those days are gone. Just get good shooters and who needs a big man
to congest the paint. There is still a need for such a player though, and teams should look to make the “big
man” a focal point on their offenses. Strategically, putting emphasis on the big man would shake up the current era and make big waves against opponents.
Look at Anthony Davis. Take away the six free throws and the one three-pointer he averages per game, he is still scoring approximately 17 points per game in and around the paint. Davis is also just a beast, but the current state of NBA offense and defensive planning allows him to be a beast.
In a league where the guards and forwards like LeBron James are supposed to be the highlight reels,
guys like Davis are making a name for themselves, and it is pretty easy too. No one can guard guys like Davis because they are not trained to do so anymore. If anything, big men are supposed to just swat balls away and grab rebounds. Oh, and make amazing dunks.
Put the ball into a post player’s hands more, against teams expecting perimeter shooting, and
good things will happen.
Imagine scoring half of your game points from a couple of big men in the paint. And when the other team starts to collapse on the post, kick it back out to those shooters who can focus more on setting up and taking less-contested threes.
But fans won’t be convinced and it’s understandable a to why. Only a few big men are getting the
big contracts because what every team needs is to recruit the guards, right? Wrong.
Even the super teams are benefitting from good inside men. Clint Capela and Draymond Green
have been important parts of their respective teams’ offenses (before KD arrived in Green’s
case). Even the Denver Nuggets are riding the play of guys like Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic into the
second-place spot in the Western Conference.
Look, with today’s climate, shooting wins games. And shooting is necessary for every team. But most big men can step outside and hit threes nowadays anyway, so why not focus on and play around them more?