The positions of Basketball are five:
- Point Guard
- Shooting Guard
- Small Forward
- Power Forward
The point guard, also known as the "1", is the team's general and the best ball handler on the team. His job is to hand out assists but also to increase the team efficiency. Some of the greatest point guards in the NBA throughout the last 10 years include Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson and Steve Nash. Other examples include Derek Fisher, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul , John Stockton , Deron Williams , Derrick Rose . Examples of players earlier in the league's history are Oscar Robertson , Bob Cousy and Gail Goodrich . The point guard is typically the smallest player on his/her squad. At the NBA level, most point guards are 6 feet (1.83 m) to 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m). Notable exceptions include Magic Johnson of the Lakers, who is the NBA's tallest point guard ever to play the position, at 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m), today the tallest player who occasionally plays point guard is Lebron James , at 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) but the tallest listed point guard today is Tracy McGrady , at 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m). Many rookies start their NBA careers as point guards and then transition to other roles later.
The shooting guard, also known as the "2", is usually the team's best shooter. A quality shooting guard should be able to consistently hit 20-foot (6-meter) jump shots. Besides being able to shoot the ball, shooting guards must have good ball-handling skills because they have to be able to create their own shots off the dribble. As shooting guards have a very wide skill set, they should also be able to make good passes. The shooting guard needs to be able to take long shots, around the three-point line. Typical NBA shooting guards are 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) to 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m). However, there are exceptions. For instance, Allen Iverson, who plays point guard and shooting guard, is only 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall. Nate Robinson, who also plays the position, is only 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall.
Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Roy and Andre Iguodala are examples of shooting guards in the NBA. Iguodala is large enough that he also plays in the small forward position. Arguably, the best shooting guards in NBA history are Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan. Other notable examples are Reggie Miller, Richard Hamilton, Ray Allen, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Ben Gordon,Vince Carter, Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin, and Jerry West.
The small forward, also known as the "3", is typically somewhat shorter, quicker and leaner than power forwards and centers. Thus, in the NBA, small forwards range from 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) to 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m). The small forward position is considered to be perhaps the most versatile of the main five basketball positions, due to the nature of its role, which is sometimes similar to that of a power forward, and other times more resembles the role of a shooting guard. The small forward and shooting guard positions are often interchangeable.
Small forwards have a variety of weapons, such as quickness and strength inside. One common thread between all kinds of small forwards is an ability to "get to the line"; that is, have opposing players be called for committing shooting fouls against them, as fouls are frequently called on the defense when offensive players "take the ball hard" to the basket, that is, to aggressively attempt post-up plays, lay-ups, or slam dunks. Therefore, accurate foul shooting is an imperative skill for small forwards, many of whom record a large portion of their points from the foul line. Small forwards should be able to do a little bit of everything on the court. Examples include Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers, Hedo Turkoglu of the Orlando Magic, and Kevin Durantof the Oklahoma City Thunder. Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls are examples of earlier players in the league's history for this position.
Also known as the "4" position and abbreviated as "PF", the power forward plays a role similar to that of the center, down in the "post" or "low blocks". It has also been referred to as the "post" position. On offense, he can "post up", playing with his back to the basket, or set up for mid-range jump shots. On defense, he plays under the basket in a zone defense or against the opposing power forward in man-to-man defense. Typical NBA power forwards are 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) to 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m) tall, though some power forwards, like the 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) Charles Barkley, have compensated for a lack of height with exceptional bulk and strength. The greatest power forwards of all time include Bob Pettit, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Dennis Rodman, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett. Popular All-Star power forwards today include the New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, the Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer, the Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph, the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, Golden State Warriors' David Lee, Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, and the New Orleans Hornets' David West. It is very rare to find 3 point shooting power forwards but Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic of the Dallas Mavericks,Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Rashard Lewis of the Washington Wizardsspecialize in this area.
The center, also referred to as the "5" or the "pivot", usually plays near the baseline, close to the basket (referred to as the "bottom of the key" or the "low post"). The tallest player is most likely to be assigned to the position of center, with typical NBA centers being about 7 feet (2.13 m) in height, though Chuck Hayes filled this role at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m), and NBA Hall of Famer Wes Unseld filled this role while being 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m). Few are much taller, like 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 m) Yao Ming. The center usually scores "down low, in the paint" (near the basket, in the key). Centers contribute to the team by using their physique and skill to score close to the basket, as well as both gather rebounds and "set the pick" in pick and roll plays. Some centers, such as Mehmet Okur, can be good perimeter shooters, which can draw a good rebounding and shot-blocking center away from the basket.
While the center position remains a pivotal position, the scope of the position has transitioned from classic 'back to the basket' players such as Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Yao Ming, to athletic power forwards that can dominate the position due to their athletic prowess, defensive skills, or mismatch ability to shoot from the high post, such as Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire. The fast pace of the 'Run and Gun' offenses of coaches such as Mike D'Antoni call for less traditional center play, and more up and down the court style. The 90's may be the last we have seen of the "Back to Basket" Center –Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O'Neal.
Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks, Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors, Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mehmet Okur of the Utah Jazz, Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, Shaquille O'Neal of the Boston Celtics, Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies,Greg Oden of the Portland Trail Blazers, Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers, Brook Lopez of the New Jersey Nets, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls are examples of current centers in the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Willis Reed, Hakeem Olajuwon and George Mikan are considered all-time greats at the center position.
The point and shooting guard positions are knon as Back court (GUARDS). Frontcourt are forwards with center.