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Basketball positions breakdown & position-less basketball

by | Sep 19, 2020


There are five basketball positions, each one traditionally has different roles and traits.

Here’s a breakdown of each one.

First, before we get into it, just remember that these are the general traits.

As a player, you can make each position your own, as can be seen with many of today’s best players.

As time progresses, players continue to defy many of these characteristics, with position-less basketball becoming increasingly seen.

the basketball positions and their abilities

The Point Guard/The 1

Usually, the point guard is the smallest player on the floor, spending the most time away from the basket on offense AND defense.

They are seen as ‘the coach on the floor’ and will orchestrate the team’s offensive play.

Important abilities:

Some great point guards include Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.

The Shooting Guard/The 2

The next smallest player (typically) is the shooting guard.

This is often the best shooter on the teamas the name suggests – especially from longer distance.

Additionally, they can help the point guard with playmaking or mimic the offensive role of the small forward on the wing.

Important abilities:

  • Shooting (and general scoring)
  • Dribbling
  • All-around athleticism

Some great shooting guards are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Klay Thompson.

The Small Forward/The 3

The small forward (the more agile of the two forwards) is often a jack of all trades.

They aren’t the shortest or tallest on the floor, and do a bit of everything on both ends of the floor.

For a small forward, even traditionally, there isn’t an exact blueprint. However, important abilities could be:

Some great small forwards are LeBron James, Larry Bird and Kevin Durant.

The Power Forward/The 4

The power forward (the more physical forward) will spend much more time closer to the rim than the small forward on both offense and defense.

Alongside, the center, they are typically one of the biggest and most physically dominant on the court.

Important abilities:

Some great power forwards are Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Giannis Antentokounmpo.

The Center/The 5

The center is usually the biggest player and most physically dominant players on the court.

Spending a lot of time close to the basket, they are expected to dictate the play inside.

Important abilities:

Some great centers are Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

Position-less basketball

However, as said before, in the past there have been players who defied these definitions.

For example, Magic Johnson was one of the greatest playmaking point guards of all time, at 6’9″, and still defended well inside.

Dirk Nowitzki revolutionised the power forward position with his incredible shooting ability, standing at 7 feet tall.

Today, a whole host of players seem to not exactly fit into their basketball positions.

For instance, Kevin Durant stands at almost 7 feet, yet moves like a guard. As well as this, he’s one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen.

Ben Simmons is listed as 6’10”, but is still an excellent playmaker with speed to match his strength.

As time passes, this trend is only likely to continue. Who knows who the next player to completely reshape their role will be?



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