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View Full Version : Why aren't there dominant centers anymore?



hotpotato1092
03-19-2011, 03:28 PM
As we all know and discuss ad nauseum, there aren't any dominant centers in the game anymore. But why is that? Here are my top few reasons:

- Injuries: Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden and Yao Ming all have hall of fame potential, they just can't stay on the floor. There have been injury prone big men before (Bill Walton being the main one to come to mind), but there have never been three legitimate potential hall of famers (from a talent standpoint) who all couldn't stay on the court at the same time. I would hope that this trend ends soon, and from a historical standpoint it's very possible.

- Michael Jordan: Before Jordan, it was a generally accepted fact that you needed a dominant big man to win the title. Then MJ essentially won 6 in a row and changed everything. Teams began building their offenses around wing guys, and since then we've seen guys like Kobe and Wade leading their teams to titles, and others like Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Paul Pierce and LeBron lead their teams to deep playoff runs. Nowadays teams think you don't need a top big man, so they build their systems around guards, giving the bigs less touches and less chance to improve. The reality however, is that none of these guys are MJ, unless you have a really good team around them, you can't expect a wing to lead you to a title. Kobe had Shaq, then Pau and a great supporting cast, and Wade had Shaq, a solid supporting cast and the refs. That's why they have rings, AI and LeBron didn't have those things, and Allen and Pierce needed each other (As well as KG).

- The AAU circuit: All of the top prospects played AAU ball growing up, many of them played together. Since MJ took over the league, every young player wants to be like Mike, and coaches want to capture the MJ magic on the youth circuit. Coaches teach their talented young guards to shoot first and pass only when necessary, and as a result we're seeing more and more of these combo guards who, while they're dynamic scorers don't really know how to run a team (think Jerryd Bayless or Jrue Holliday for two recent examples). This phenomenon has a double effect on big men:
- With guards hogging the shots, big men get less touches, and therefore less development, in their formative years. This means that they come into the league less skilled, and therefore put up worse stats. Since they put up worse stats, their coaches are less inclined to give them the ball, essentially stopping their development altogether.
- When they get into the NBA, they're coming in with the aforementioned score first combo guards. If these guys are running the point for your team, it means that nobody on the floor with you can get you the ball where you need it. Some guys might get lucky and end up with Phoenix or New Orleans, but for every Nash or Chris Paul there are five Gilbert Arenas' or Mo Williams'. If nobody can get them the ball, they won't be able to play as effectively as possible, meaning coaches will give them the ball less and less, eventually stopping their development (as detailed above). I'm gonna preemptively call this Derrick Favors syndrome, because I guarantee that he'll never be the player he could be simply because coaches are going to give up on him before he learns how to play with these selfish guards (I'm looking at you Devin Harris). The sad thing is comparatively Devin Harris isn't too bad, but compared to the lead guards Favors would get in the 80's or 90's he might as well be playing with Arenas.
- Expanding upon Derrick Favors syndrome: Take a look at PFs and Cs taken in the top 10 in the last three NBA drafts:
- Michael Beasley: Played with Dwyane Wade, who was too busy carrying Miami on his back to foster Beasley's development, then he got shipped to the back court black hole of Minnesota.
- Kevin Love: Has had to spend his entire career in the back court black hole of Minnesota. Lucky for him he can rebound, those garbage points save his scoring.
- Brook Lopez: Already discussed his point guard, Devin Harris. Has the skills to be a dominant offensive center, just doesn't have the guy to feed him the ball.
- Blake Griffin: Scores entirely off of his own athleticism. He's grown up with the Baron Davis/Mo Williams pupu platter.
- Hasheem Thabeet: He might just suck, but to be fair he's had to play with Conley, Mayo, Gay and Randolph, he never had a chance in Memphis. I think he's salvageable.
- Jordan Hill: You know you got screwed when you're thrilled to get upgraded to Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry. Why? Because he started with Chris Duhon.
- Derrick Favors: Already discussed
- DeMarcus Cousins: My personal favorite. There is no question here, this guy has franchise center written all over him. Unfortunately, he's stuck watching Tyreke "look at me I can score 22 points while shooting 40% from the field" Evans waste the game dribbling into the abyss. Someone is gonna steal him from the Kings someday, and they're gonna get a great value with his personal problems, and then we'll see just how good this guy is.
- Greg Monroe: It's very rare that a center is the best passer on the team, Monroe is on this Pistons team, and that's not saying much considering his competition is Rodney Stuckey.
See what I'm getting at? Many of these guys will never reach their potential simply due to the guards they're stuck playing with. Ever stop to think that Paul Millsap (a second round pick) is better than most of these guys just because he had Deron Williams? Think about the great big men of all time. Russell had Cousy, Kareem had Magic, Ewing had Jackson, Malone had Stockton, Duncan has Parker. Now think of the bigs that, although they were great, are widely believed to have underachieved. Shaq had great guards, but none of them were passers. Imagine Shaq getting a career with John Stockton. Maybe the real reason Russell beat Wilt was that he had Bob Cousy and Wilt didn't. My point is big men need guards who can get THEM the ball, not guards who can score.

- The AAU circuit again, as well as Europe: That's right AAU, you're not off the hook yet. Young bigs nowadays are looking for a way to separate themselves from the pack, so they look to develop mid range games. This would be fine if they didn't know that almost every single big man in the AAU circuit was doing this. As a result, we're seeing more Chris Boshs and less Tim Duncans. It used to be that a guy like KG could come into the league and build an offensive game around the 15 footer and be truly unique, nowadays it's what half of the league's bigs do. When an AAU coach gets a big man like this, they treasure him because they think he's unique, and allow him to continue building his game in that way. Only he's not unique, nowadays back to the basket bigs are. If Larry Brown were coaching AAU, he'd tell his jump shooting power forward "you can hit a jumper? Great, you'll take two of them per game, go work on scoring three feet from the basket". If Chris Bosh came around 20 years earlier, based on his body type and natural abilities he could have been a player very similar to Hakeem, a big man who used his speed, footwork and finesse to create post moves that would allow him easy lay ups and dunks. Instead, Chris Bosh grew up saying "hey, I'll never be Shaq, why not be Dirk?". This type of game works for a player like Dirk who can hit pretty much any shot he takes, including threes, unfortunately there isn't another Dirk, so we're seeing tons of bigs trying to emulate him, only they just aren't good enough to lead their teams that way. Which brings us to Europe. I'm not sure how or why it happened, but their game is built around ball movement and precise shooting, which I'm fine with, in fact I rather enjoy the european game, just not what it has done to the players they've sent to the NBA. European bigs are taught from the start how to shoot. I'm fine when a Dirk comes along, but that's not what's happening, what's happening is that we're getting an Andrea Bargnani or two every year, further pushing the "let's keep our 7 footers AWAY from the basket" movement. It just makes no sense to me on any continent, why not put your biggest guys closest to the basket? Am I missing something? Wouldn't those be the easiest points? The lack of common sense among basketball coaches nowadays astounds me.

- High school players/one and dones: How often do we complain that Dwight Howard doesn't have low post moves? Fairly often right? Well Dwight Howard is physically talented enough for it not be an issue, he finds ways to score. 99% of big men aren't that lucky. Big men need time to develop. Low post moves don't come over night, it takes months and years of practice to learn how to score down low consistently. There's a reason Kobe and LeBron were able to come straight out of high school and be great whereas Duncan and Shaq were at school for four and three years each. True there are big men who come straight out who are great (Dwight and KG being the main two), but they are exceptions to the rule, and remember Dwight's game is based way more off of physical talent than skill. Think of the 2001 NBA draft. The top four picks are all big men. Three of them are straight out of high school. One of those is an outright bust (Kwame Brown), one of those became a bust later on (Eddy Curry), and one has no offensive game whatsoever (Tyson Chandler). The one who succeeded (Pau Gasol), was the one who played three years for FC Barcelona, he had time to develop. There are tons of other examples like this. Big men need more time to develop than guards, but nowadays they aren't getting that time due either to their own desire for money or their agent's desire for money. Imagine if Tyson Chandler had spent three years at Duke. Don't you think coach K could have turned him into a solid offensive player? He could have been an all star. Imagine Eddy Curry spending three or four years with Tom Izzo, he could have been a force down low and maybe even learned to play some defense. Even guys who to some degree have succeeded, like an Andrew Bynum, would have really benefited from a few years at Uconn (where he intended to go). In the 80's and 90's big men got the time they needed, now they don't.

- For the third time, the AAU circuit: This is something that people have varied opinions on, but I for one HATE the buddy buddy thing stars have going on now. I liked it when stars wanted to kill each other. I blame the AAU circuit, when these guys have known each other their whole lives they aren't gonna hate each other. They see each other as friends first and opponents second. Why is this a big deal? Because it makes them soft. This is a phenomenon not only seen in big men, but in guards as well, only guards can afford to be soft, bigs can't. It's a mentality thing, if you don't want to destroy you opponent, you can't be as physical. This extends past just friends, the mentality sets in for whoever you're playing. Ever wonder why Chris Bosh is scared shitless of KG? It's because he grew up in a buddy buddy system where softness was almost encouraged, KG grew up playing in a system where his toughness and tenacity was prized. If Bosh were the older one and KG were the younger one the roles might be reversed. It's very rare that we call the older bigs in the league soft because they grew up needing to be tough, the newer bigs didn't.

So that's why, in my opinion, we don't have any dominant centers any more, what do you guys think?

FlakeyFool
03-19-2011, 03:36 PM
tl;dr

Havoc Wreaker
03-19-2011, 03:43 PM
Paragraphs are your friend. So is spacing between sentences and/or points.

What an eye-sore.

Geargo Wallace
03-19-2011, 03:52 PM
Paragraphs are your friend. So is spacing between sentences and/or points.

What an eye-sore.

Wait 'til you meet 210Don.

h2r09
03-19-2011, 03:56 PM
its because it isnt a sexy game to play and very few even get the oppurtunity to be that tall AND talented. it isnt a "fun" kind of game to develop. and the game is going the way of more athletic, defensive forces and rebounders at the center position.

GREATNESS ONE
03-19-2011, 04:01 PM
Paragraphs are your friend. So is spacing between sentences and/or points.

What an eye-sore.

:laugh: was thinking the same thing.

Sadds The Gr8
03-19-2011, 04:05 PM
anyone wanna summarize this? i don't feel like reading a novel

RowanJournalist
03-19-2011, 04:13 PM
The European generation (soft,mid-range jumpshot and poor defense) is taking over. Thanks Dirk.

Albrecht Duerer
03-19-2011, 04:14 PM
its because it isnt a sexy game to play and very few even get the oppurtunity to be that tall AND talented. it isnt a "fun" kind of game to develop. and the game is going the way of more athletic, defensive forces and rebounders at the center position.

The issue is that the 6'5" unathletic white guy that was prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s was replaced by a more integrated NBA and hyper athletic 6'7" players. Its been like that going back to the late 1970s. This disparity gave centers a bigger advantage in the 50s and 60s based on size alone. Those size advantages have been tremendously offset by athleticism of perimeter players in subsequent years. Again, this is nothing new. The game has been played abover the rim for over 30 years now.

sep11ie
03-19-2011, 04:18 PM
I don't know if I agree or not since I punched my computer 1/4 of the way throught that trainwreck of a facepalm.

whitemamba33
03-19-2011, 04:23 PM
Such a long post. It's a shame the answer to it is so short:

Answer: Zone defense.

Peace.

Raph12
03-19-2011, 04:25 PM
The biggest one is injuries, if fully healthy (Yao, Bynum, Oden, Bogut, Nene, Big Al, etc...), today's league could have as many dominant centers as any era (besides maybe the 90s).

Another big issue, is that the centers don't have the freedom to let their game grow like they did in the past, it's a wings' league. If Cousins, Hibbert, Monroe, MGasol, Gortat, etc all had the freedom/touches to let their game grow, the league would be dominated by centers/bigs again.

If you think about all of the talented centers who have been held back by those two issues (Dwight, Yao, Bynum, Oden, Bogut, Nene, Big Al, Cousins, Hibbert, Monroe, MGasol, Gortat, BLopez, McGee, Kaman, Okafor, Perkins, Horford, Biedrins, etc...), you'd see that today's league could be as big dominant as any in previous decades.

sunnydayin'zona
03-19-2011, 04:30 PM
good post, very well thought out and you brought up a point I had never really considered.

But look at amare?
how did he develop in the way that he did?
he came right out of high school and won rookie of the year scoring 13pts a game. second year he averaged 21 a game. he didnt have nash then, he had marbury. so is he the exception? how do we explain his case? he got a lot better with nash, and they ran an unstoppable p&r, but he was still fantastic before nash came to phoenix.

What do you think?

allvalleychamp
03-19-2011, 04:31 PM
Because of the rule changes where the NBA cracked down on things like hand checking to open up the game, you get perimeter guys who can't be touched meaning you need quicker players on the perimeter rather than guys inside who hardly get foul calls

Young and Stupid
03-19-2011, 04:33 PM
Another good thread (and well-written introduction) by Potato. Good ****.

I agree with a lot of your points and I think it's something that should be discussed more often, the AAU style of play definitely has an effect on the development of big-men. Your other points are spot-on as well.

For those that are *****ing about it being too long -- so what? It's long, but every point is necessary and it's a very good topic. Are you really doing something so important that you can't take the extra few minutes to read a longer, but well-written and well-thought out post? #stop*****ing

Once again, nice post Potato; keep it up.

PrettyBoyJ
03-19-2011, 04:33 PM
Most of the big guys today rather not work on a post game when there young.. Most guy use there athleticism which is an advantage but there talent offensively is raw.. Most big guys develop there game when they come to the league.. its rarely you see a player come out of college with a dominate post game.. And thats just not the style now a days

PrettyBoyJ
03-19-2011, 04:34 PM
good post, very well thought out and you brought up a point I had never really considered.

But look at amare?
how did he develop in the way that he did?
he came right out of high school and won rookie of the year scoring 22pts a game. he didnt have nash then, he had marbury. so is he the exception? how do we explain his case? he got a lot better with nash, and they ran an unstoppable p&r, but he was still fantastic before nash came to phoenix.

What do you think?

Amare didnt avg. 22 his rookie year more like 13

sunnydayin'zona
03-19-2011, 04:46 PM
Amare didnt avg. 22 his rookie year more like 13

I fail. :facepalm: haha

Well, he averaged 21 his second year, still without nash.

Fnom11
03-19-2011, 05:03 PM
In my opinion it's because athleticism has taken over the league. People are faster, stronger, more agile than the NBA has ever seen. You combine that with a nice jumper and a big man seems irrelevant.

Fnom11
03-19-2011, 05:04 PM
I honestly couldn't name 1 or 2 great post game bigs in the NCAA tournament right now. I can however name 5-10 great guards.

LTS
03-19-2011, 05:09 PM
3 in the key, offense happy NBA you name it I was to lazy to read your paper but just some thoughts

Arch Stanton
03-19-2011, 05:10 PM
Big guys get hacked all the time but don't get the calls. But if anyone breathes on LeBron it's a flagrant foul!

Fnom11
03-19-2011, 05:12 PM
Big guys get hacked all the time but don't get the calls. But if anyone breathes on LeBron it's a flagrant foul!

You're a big dumb head.

blastmasta26
03-19-2011, 05:34 PM
Big guys get hacked all the time but don't get the calls. But if anyone breathes on LeBron it's a flagrant foul!
Umm, Dwight Howard?

JasonJohnHorn
03-19-2011, 05:35 PM
tl;dr

this

JasonJohnHorn
03-19-2011, 05:45 PM
Seriously... I am not in the mood to read Tolstoy's Love and War, or Ian Rand's The Atlas Shrugged, but i will answer the question: Because all the 6'11 and 7 footers are playing small forward. SERIOUSLY!!!! DIRK: GET IN THE POST!!!! And the ones who arent are playing PF.

Ok, seriously seriously. The game has evolved. Interior defense is important, but zone defenses are allowed, so you are not longer required to have a dominant interior defender to handle strong post players, and also because the back-to-the-basket-three-second rule prevents the big dudes from backing their @$$e$ up in the paint. That then requires guys on the floor to either have quick foot work, good jumpers, or to be able to move well with out the ball. Look at Howard. Seriously, how often does the guy really work the pivot and score? Yeah, he works, but SO many of his points come off of him moving without the ball and getting a dunk when defenses break down, or from his offensive put-backs.

Big guys like Dirk, Amare, Duncan, Garnett, they have jumpers and/or face the basket and/or create off the dribble. So now you can essentially get away with have three forwards on the floor (Turk and Kukoc were both like 6'10, 6'11, so i Lamar, and these guys played SMALL forward! They would have been centers in the 80s).

While teams can still use guys like Howard and Ben Wallace (when he was prime), they dont HAVE to have one to win. You can have a guy with a traditional forward skill set working the post, like Gasol and Duncan, and as long as they cna play good team/zone defence and decent one-on-one (Duncan obviously just a great defender), they can weather bigger guys because thye are no longer allowed to throw their weight around with their back to the basket.

If you can keep a body on a C, then its not like it was with Robinson and Hakeem, or even Barkley and Malone (the forward game has changes just as much), because they arent given as much time to work their post moves and have to do it quick or kick it out.

Gram
03-19-2011, 05:46 PM
Wait 'til you meet 210Don.

lol.

Gram
03-19-2011, 05:47 PM
You're a big dumb head.

Gonna lose alotta friends with that one. ;D

Arch Stanton
03-19-2011, 05:52 PM
You're a big dumb head.

Thanks! Your parents let you use the computer 2day? Make sure you're in bed by 8.

AddiX
03-19-2011, 05:53 PM
These giants today are too damn big.

Man ain't meant to be that big and running around basketball courts for to long a time. And player development in this country is garbage. The only thing we develop well in this country is PGs.

Arch Stanton
03-19-2011, 05:54 PM
Umm, Dwight Howard?

Yeah he gets hacked all the time with no calls. Did you hear anything SVG said?

FlakeyFool
03-19-2011, 06:47 PM
No because I'd rather shove a crayon up my nostril than to hear SVG's voice

bringinwood
03-19-2011, 07:49 PM
The reason there aren't any dominate big men in basketball anymore is because, as someone mentioned previously, the game is much much more athletic....

A 7 footer would have to run like a gazelle just to keep up...

That's just to start... You have to block shots, rebound at a solid clip, and have a soft touch around the rim as well....

Physically, there just aren't enough people in the world that can do those things...

Dwight Howard is an absolute freak of nature...

If this were 25 years ago, he would be putting up Wilt Chamberlain numbers...

carnage101
03-19-2011, 07:52 PM
the bigger most people are the doofier they get....

NYKalltheway
03-19-2011, 08:02 PM
I can answer to the OP about the European bigs not playing well under the basket.

It's not true. It's simply a different game in Europe than it is in the NBA.

In Europe the PF or C has to know how to evade the camping C of the opposition. In the NBA the C or PF is stuck on you. Chasing you around. In Europe this happens, but it's not the usual case. And players are less athletic of course so it's easier for a big to score from 3 feet there than in the NBA.

As for why they have developed a mid and long range jumper. It's simply because it allows the bigs to be useful in other places rather than just the low or high post.
It's very common that 2-3 bodies are blocking the path for the offensive player under the basket so if a big can shoot, it's a major plus.

This generation of bigs in the European scene: Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Nikola Vujcic, Kostas Tsartsaris, Tiago Splitter, Luis Scola, Bargnani etc has changed the game entirely. And it has translated to the NBA where there's a lack of bigs as well. The NBA has larger court dimensions so if a guy like Pau can shoot from as far as the three point line and his marker is close to him it leaves too much space for the offensive wingmen to penetrate.

Centers that can shoot are very useful. Centers that rely purely on power can still make it in the NBA but not in Europe to the same extent. That's because of how the game rules change in defense.

I expect the next 4-5 years many big guys will try and emulate D12 and watch Shaq and perhaps even Dawkins from the 80s more and see how effective that kind of player can be. I'd really prefer to keep our European bigs and European bred(eg Scola, Splitter) bigs over here and the NBA had more guys like D12 honestly.

210Don
03-19-2011, 08:04 PM
whyallbehattingonme? ijustypethewayithink

vl90
03-19-2011, 08:06 PM
no one eats their vegetables no more thats why

ragee
03-19-2011, 08:10 PM
I think it is because most of them have no competition in high school... Most centers are too tall when they are growing up so they just dominate the game by just dunking and blocking shots... It looks cool and it is really fun to do but because of this, they tend to forget to work on the fundamentals... So when they come to the league, their lateral movements are so slow and they don't have any post up moves...

ragee
03-19-2011, 08:15 PM
I'd really prefer to keep our European bigs and European bred(eg Scola, Splitter) bigs over here and the NBA had more guys like D12 honestly.

Nah... I want a Dirk type and a Shaq type play together... That would be awesome!

Crackadalic
03-20-2011, 01:08 AM
David stern changes the rules(hand checking) that makes wing players the dominate force in the league and leaves the big men to rot