Basketball Positions Explained

Posted by Michael on 28th Jul 2014

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Basketball Positions Explained

Basketball is a team-oriented sport with several different positions.  Technically, official rules do not require teams to fill positions but most coaches use them to better control their players. Designating a player as the “point guard,” for instance, means he or she will be passing the ball more often than other players on the team.

The point guard (#1) is a highly technical position that's usually reserved for the team's best ball handler. He or she must be able to make direct passes, move fast across the floor, and constantly survey the dynamics of the game. Some people compare the point guard to the quarterback in football, as this position is more or less a team leader, instructing players and issuing orders when necessary.

The shooting guard (#2) is typically large yet still fast – a combination that's highly effective on the basketball court. He or she must be able to shoot the ball, move with the ball, defend against opponents, and make 3-point shots from afar.

Dwayne Wade is one of the most well-known shooting guards in the NBA, scoring an average 19 points per game (PPG) in the 2013-2014 season.

The small forward (#3) is the most versatile of the five different basketball positions, using strength, agility, and speed to score points. Small forwards often entice the opposing team's players to make fouls by standing in their way, which in turn grants them foul shouts. Basketball coaches often stress the importance of free shot throws to their small forwards for this reason.

The power forward (#4) is a position similar to the center (which we talk about later). When the power forward is on offense, he or she must travel fast while being able to score close to the basket as well as make 3-point shots. When the power forward is on defense, he or she must have the size and strength to block dunks and other close shots by the opposing team.

Whether you like him or not, Dennis Rodman was one of the most iconic point forwards in basketball, netting a 7.3 PPG average throughout his 14-season career.

The center (#5) is the fifth and final position in basketball. Also known as the “big man” or “pivot,” the center remains close to the basket where he or she can make rebounds from other players' missed shots. Size is a crucial element in determining the effectiveness of a center, as bigger, taller players will have an easier time recovering the ball.

The now-retired 7' 1” Shaquille O'Neal is quite possibly the most famous center in basketball.

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