Point guard is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball
game. The point guard is normally the smallest player on the
team and has perhaps the most specialized role of any position.
Essentially, the point guard is expected to run the team's offense,
by controlling the ball and making sure that it gets to the right
players at the right time. After an opponent scores, it is typically
the point guard who brings the ball down court to begin an offensive
play. For this position, passing skills and court vision are
essential. Great point guards are often measured more by their
assist totals than by their scoring. Still, a first-rate point
guard should also have a reliably effective jumpshot and should
be a scoring threat from long distance.
High-profile point guards currently playing include Jason Kidd,
Gary Payton, Steve Nash, Stephon Marbury, Baron Davis, Allen Iverson,
Chauncey Billups, and Steve Francis. Great point guards of the
past include Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and John Stockton.
Another great guard of the past, Oscar Robertson, combined the
skills of a point guard with those of a small forward, foreshadowing
the modern role of the point forward.
A shooting guard is often shorter, leaner, and quicker than forwards.
They are often the best jump shooters in the game, but can also
drive to the basket. Many shooting guards can also play small
forward. A shooting guard should be a good ball handler who is
a good passer. Shooting guards focus on scoring, and allow the
point guard to focus on passing. Most shooting guards are between
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) such as Ben Gordon and 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
such as Tracy McGrady. They weigh from 190 to 240 lb (86 to 109
Michael Jordan, one of the best-known basketball players in history,
was a shooting guard, and helped define the role of the modern
position. Other famous shooting guards of the past include Clyde
Drexler, Jerry West, Walt Frazier and John Havlicek. Notable shooting
guards who are currently active include Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade,
Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Richard Hamilton, Manu
Ginobili, and Paul Pierce.
The small forward, or colloquially "the three", is one
of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. Small forwards
are typically somewhat shorter and leaner than power forwards and
centers but, on occasion they are just as tall. On offense, they
are often well-balanced between power-oriented and shooting-oriented;
on defense, they will seek steals and rebounds. Many small forwards
can also play shooting guard; those who switch between the two
positions are called "swingmen" or "wings".
Among the most dominant small forwards of the past were Larry Bird,
Dominique Wilkins, Scottie Pippen, Julius Erving and James Worthy.
Notable small forwards who are currently active include Grant Hill,
Peja Stojakovic, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion, LeBron James, Carmelo
Anthony and Tayshaun Prince. Dirk Nowitzki is another notable basketball
player with excellent small forward skills; however, he has mostly
played at power forward in his NBA career. Usually small forwards
can stand between 6'5" and 6'11" (1.96 - 2.13 m). Although
they might be as tall as power forwards, power forwards are much
more stocky and muscular.
Power forward is a position in the sport of basketball. Power forwards
play a role similar to that of center, playing with their back
to the basket on offense and positioned either on the low blocks
or against the opposing power forward on defense. However, in
most instances, the power forward is asked to shoulder more of
a scoring role and somewhat less of a defensive role than a center.
Typically, a power forward is one of the larger
players on the court, not as tall as the center but more muscular.
expected to be aggressive when pursuing rebounds and score most
of their points on the low post (no more than six feet (2 m) from
the basket), as opposed to taking jump shots from farther away.
Power forwards can be imposing presences on defense, but they usually
defer to the center in terms of blocking shots and general intimidation.
In the NBA, a typical power forward is between 6'8" and 7'0" (2.03
to 2.14 m) in height and 230-260 pounds (105 to 120 kg) in weight,
and is often asked to play center in specific game situations or
when a particular team lacks a taller player.
Famous power forwards in NBA history include Bob
Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Elvin Hayes, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley,
Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan. Another notable power
forward is Dirk Nowitzki, but while he is noted for his strong
inside game (he is consistently among the NBA leaders in rebounds),
many of his skills, particularly the strong reliance on his jump
shot, are much closer to those of a typical small forward. One
example of an effective power forward who did not fit the standard
physical description for that position was Dennis Rodman, who was
able to outrebound and defensively shut down rival power forwards
despite being only 6'6", 210 lb (1.98 m, 95 kg).
The center is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball
game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team,
and they are generally preferred to have a great deal of muscle
and body mass as well. A typical NBA center is 6'10" (2.08
m) or taller.
In many cases, the center's primarily role is simply
to be very large, and to use his size to score and defend from
close to the basket. A center who possesses size along with athleticism
and skill constitutes an unparalleled asset for a team. Shaquille
O'Neal of the Miami Heat is noted both for his enormous proportions,
standing 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and weighing 330 lb (150 kg),
as well for his mastery of elegantly simple post maneuvers. Yao
Ming of the Houston Rockets stands 7'6" (2.29 m) tall but
has mobility and shooting touch normally associated with much
There has been occasional controversy over what
constitutes a "true
center." Some have argued, for instance, that Ben Wallace,
while highly effective at center, is actually a power forward playing
out of position, mainly because his 6'9" (2.06 m) height makes
him considerably smaller than most centers he faces. Likewise,
some would say that Tim Duncan, although listed throughout his
career as a power forward, is actually a center, because of his
size and style of play. However, these are highly subjective judgments.
What is likely true is that, because there are currently so few
people who meet the ideal size requirements of an NBA center, teams
will sometimes find it necessary to play an individual at that
position who would be more effective as a power forward.
Notable centers currently playing include Shaquille O'Neal, Yao
Ming, Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo, Vlade Divac and, in Europe,
Arvydas Sabonis. Great centers of the past include George Mikan,
Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
Robert Parish, David Robinson, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and
On some occasions, teams will choose to use a three guard offense,
replacing one of the forwards or the center with a third guard.