During a game, there are 5 basketball players on the court for each team at any one time. While younger teams and those just starting off might not have any specific role for each player, more competitive teams have different positions for the 5 active players. This effects what jobs they perform on the court and where they stand on both offense and defence.
The point guard is considered the on-court leader of the team, as he or she usually controls the offense. This includes dribbling the ball up the court and starting the plays with the first pass. They need to have good ball handing skills and good court awareness.
Normally, the point guard is one of the smallest players on the team, however in recent times we see taller players like Lebron James 6’10 playing the point guard position.
The shooting guard is normally the second smallest position on the court. The player in this position can also help to bring the ball up the court so they need good dribbling skills as well. They are normally good shooters from long distance, so do a lot of moving off the ball to get open for jump shots. Some of the best shooting guards in recent times include Klay Thompson, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant.
Generally, the player at this position is the most versatile on the team. They are usually medium height and do everything from passing, rebounding, scoring, and dribbling. A lot of their time is spent on the wings. Notable players in the small forward position include Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant.
One of the strongest players on the team. The power forward spends a lot of time inside the key, and focuses on inside scoring and defence, as well as rebounding. They will also set screens to free up other players. Some of the best ever power forwards who dominated their position include Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.
The centre is generally the tallest player on the court and will live inside the key. They will focus on interior defence and rebounding as well as scoring close to the basket. Blocking shots, setting screens, post moves and tip ins are usually their main strengths. The 1990’s were loaded with quality centres including David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon.
In modern basketball, we have seen a lot of professional teams move away from the 5 defined positions. A lot of the time we see “small ball” where a team takes to the court without a true centre. More and more we are seeing utility players, including big players who can dribble, pass, and shoot three pointers. Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets and Joel Embiid from Philadelphia are two of many in the NBA right now.
But at the junior level, it is important to still have 5 defined positions on the court, as it teaches players to learn a specific role, and helps them focus on what they need to do to contribute to the team success.
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