The stretch 4 business is serious business. Basketball purists have been complaining about the lack of quality at the center position for years now. They’re right. Look further down – the power forward position has also evolved in to this stretch 4 trend. What is a stretch 4, you ask? He’s a tall guy, usually 6-9 or taller, and plays from the perimeter. He barely posts up preferring to shoot instead of being a bruiser.
How did these guys come to pass? Dirk Nowitzki is an exceptional basketball player and has shown that this style can win. He was getting crap for this before with the “soft” label. Even I was criticizing him for that during the 2006 NBA Finals. Dirk is a great shooter. Admit it; he’s on the same level as Larry Bird and Michael Jordan in that department.
The old school bruisers of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, such as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, and Tom Chambers, are long obsolete. These new breed of power forwards such as Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Carlos Boozer, Amar’e Stoudemire, David Lee, and Kevin Love are “face up shooting” power big men. They do not camp in the paint and usually do not play any type of defense. Why is that? I didn’t forget about Luis Scola either.
The only big guy within this batch who plays defense is LaMarcus Aldridge.
Perimeter oriented big men who cannot play defense. Why has this become a trend?
The five-second rule, no hand check, and 3 second rule in the paint have transformed the game for these guys. There is no camping out and people can thank Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson for the “Mark Jackson rule.” He notoriously abused the time when he posted up back in the day. The power forward will typically play like guards with these rules in place. Why does this need to be pointed out?
Traditionalists have to accept that “back to the basket” big guys no longer exist. They have a place in today’s NBA, but they’re going to have a hard time because they do not have enough time to do their thing. With Dirk Nowitzki headlining this style winning it all, he further ensured that this is the way to go.
This spilled over to the center position.
Guys like Stoudemire, Horford, and Nene Hilario are all mobile, can shoot, and usually “face up” a lot. The notable players remaining today who bang in the paint are Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and Andrew Bogut. Honorable mention goes to Marc Gasol. Brook Lopez is weak. Joakim Noah is a hustle guy.
All of these guys can be power forward or center. They truly blurred the lines so this makes it difficult to categorize them. The position themselves are not obsolete. The new playing style made the old school turtle style obsolete. That’s all. That is what happened to the centers and power forwards.
My latest gripe is this – how come most of them can’t play defense? What is being taught at the high school and college level? Awful.