In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words
June 23
14:05 2021

As the game of basketball continues to get pushed further away from the basket, positions are becoming less defined than in prior years. With the three-point shot becoming more important than ever before, many teams are looking for a power forward or center that can also shoot from long range and is routinely called the stretch 4 or 5.

Growing up, the idea of a big man shooting three-point shots was virtually unheard of. I could never imagine Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Karl Malone or Shaquille O’Neal shooting multiple three-point shots per game, but I guess that’s how the game has changed in this generation.

So, my foundation of the game was seeing your big men in the post and now to see players like Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokić hoist it up from outside time and time again, got me to think about how coaches feel about the evolution of the power forward and center position in basketball.

Here are some responses from local coaches about their feelings on the stretch power forward and center in today’s game.

Vernard Rogers, local basketball coach

“You need a big man that can play on the outside. It causes a mismatch on the court. Your 5, who is a dominating inside big, can’t play my 5 who is an outside and inside big. Once I pull him out of the paint, he pretty much cooked and it opens the floor for the other players. You got to respect a big with a nice touch.”

Richard Daniels Jr., local varsity basketball coach

“I think it’s good in terms of positionless basketball … guys that might be undersized, but can shoot it well, now have a chance to be looked at. Also, there are 6’11 guards nowadays, so a 6’7/6’8 post can flourish off the pick and pop.”

Anonymous coach

“It has killed basketball on the lower level, due to kids looking and trying to shoot 3s and they aren’t strong enough! Then have these bigs who can’t dribble! I know I’m old school, but it has hurt the development of players. Additionally, you have these same bigs driving to the basket with a clear shot and they pass out to another big to shoot a three!!! HORRIBLE!!!”

Anonymous coach

“There are positives and negatives to both sides of this question. On one hand, you have to love a big that can dominate in the post and score at will in the paint, while on the other hand, you have to love a big man that can draw the defense away from the basket and hit a jump shot. The problem I have is when bigs rely too much on their jump shot instead of using it as a means to draw their defender away from the basket. I see it too many times when a big settles on a three-point shot instead of working for a better shot. Kids see this in the NBA and try to do the same things instead of perfecting their post moves and footwork. It’s a complicated question, but overall, I prefer a big that can do both, working inside out, not outside in, however.”

James Stackhouse, local basketball coach

“I don’t think the stretch 4 and 5 can be definitively categorized as good or bad for basketball. A better perspective may be to just think of it as part of the evolution of the game. It definitely provides more options. A player’s size no longer has to determine the skill set that they should possess, which opens up the game in ways we haven’t seen before.”

Look for future columns with coaches’ comments about issues involving local sports.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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