(Photo via sportingnews.com)
Basketball is not what it used to be, there is no doubt about it. Why is the game played so differently now at the offensive end of the floor? It’s all about spacing and efficiency.
For example the evolution of the traditional power forward to the “stretch four” changed the game. Players like Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love, and Anthony Davis are considered stretch fours, just to paint a picture. These are players with power forward size, but have superior shooting ability. Back in the day a power forward stayed down low with his back to the basket. His job would be to physically dominate in close and rebound the basketball. Now they can come out and knock down mid range jumpers and three pointers.
“During the 1995 Western Conference semifinals, Houston Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich had never heard the term “stretch-4,” because it had not entered the basketball vernacular. The phrase “pace and space” did not exist. Tomjanovich only sought a means to guard Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley without double-teaming him, to prevent passes to open three-point shooters. And so Tomjanovich tried something new. He played usual small forward Robert Horry at power forward.”
-Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
Defenses weren’t used to seeing a big man with the ability to knock down the three with ease. Now this is a necessity to a team if they want to have success in spreading the floor. An extra shooter is just one more way to create passing lanes and move the ball.
The Golden State Warriors do this very well. There are plenty of possessions where they have four shooters on the three point line. This forces the defense out on the perimeter. Because you have to respect the shooters ability to knock down the jumper, you end up creating one on one match-ups. Now you have Steph Curry playing one on one, and that’s a bet I’ll take every time. As soon as someone comes over to help, Steph can kick it to the open man and now you have an open, high percentage shot. And in the high scoring, offensive era that we are in now, both teams are going to shoot a high volume of shots. It is a huge advantage from an offensive perspective if you can limit the amount of contested shots.
Now for the wild card. The next position to evolve is the center. Think of Shaq for a minute. He was an absolute truck in the paint, but if it wasn’t in the paint, it wasn’t going in. Just look at him at the free throw line. Now you have centers like Kristaps Porzingis. He is a stretch four that is so big he can have success as a center. He can be that rim defender on the defensive end, and he can score in the paint as well as hit jumpers from all over. You could even call him a stretch five.
If you have a dominant center with the perimeter shooters, you are set. In this era, if you can put four shooters on the floor with a center that can rebound and score when he needs to, then you have an unstoppable offense. Your center can post up and dominate the opposing center. As soon as someone in for the double team, that immediately creates an open shot on the perimeter.
- The recipe for success is to have depth in your shooters coupled with a dominant center.
- You need to have diversity in your scoring options to maximize your consistency.
- The best way to weaken a defense is to spread it out.
- You create a one on one with your center and your shooters on the perimeters keep the defense honest.
- If they cheat or try to double team, someone on the perimeter get an open 3-point shot.