Blogtable: Future for 7-footers?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Future for 7-footers? | Going defense-first? | Cavs or Warriors in 2016?



VIDEODebating the merits of playing small vs. big

> After watching the “small ball” Finals, what does the future look like for a 7-footer in the NBA?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Frankly, the NBA better hope that its 7-footers, however rare, aren’t eradicated from the scene. Last I checked, no one was goosing the TV ratings to watch a 6-foot-5-and-under league. Part of the appeal of pro basketball always has been its big men and, in my view, the NBA’s Competition Committee needs to dial back some of the things that favor the shorties. My suggestion: Widen the court and extend the 3-point line an extra foot or two all around. The game has gotten too 3-heavy, diminishing the mid-range game, which always showcased some of the most creative and athletic shot-making. More mid-range ultimately means greater roles for the bigs.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: There will always be a place for skilled big men in the NBA — emphasis on skilled. Going forward, there should be emphasis on developing an all-around game that includes passing and shooting as a way to spread the floor on offense and ability to come away from the low post to defend.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comCan the 7-footer shoot and move? It’s not the size, it’s the skill set. I would have thought Andrew Bogut plays no matter what because he can be a facilitator on offense as well as defend, not some plodding center who can only impact within arm’s reach of the basket. So if he spends a lot of The Finals riding pine, all bets are off. Be mobile or be increasingly worried.

Shaun Powell, NBA.comThe future looks like Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor and the next potentially great center coming from the Draft. I don’t buy the idea that the big man is obsolete. Mediocre big men are obsolete. Crummy big men are obsolete. But the next Hakeem Olajuwon won’t be sitting on the bench in The Finals, trust me.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comThere’s space for seven-footers, and there will be a few — Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Brook and Robin Lopez — that will get big contracts this summer. You need to be mobile and bring some skills to the table, preferably on both ends of the floor. But there’s room in today’s pick-and-roll, spread-the-floor offenses for a big guy  (Tyson Chandler is a good example) who just has to be able to set a good screen, roll hard to the basket, catch the ball and finish. Layups are still more valuable than 3-pointers, and a good roll man opens things up for good shooters.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: It depends on what kind of 7-footer you are. The days of big man battleship basketball in the NBA have ended. They went away when Shaquille O’Neal cleared out the big man division. Any dominant big man since then either has been a hybrid/stretch four or a some variation. The skilled 7-footer will always have a place in basketball. So much will depend on the training young bigs get on the way up. If they are schooled in all facets of the game, we’ll see some new hybrids enter into the mix. Work on your free throws and face-up game, young bigs, and you will be fine. I did enjoy the small-ball portion of these Finals, though, and wonder how many more teams will be forced to embrace that approach?

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: It depends where he is playing. If the Cavaliers had entered The Finals at full health then we might now be discussing the renewal of the 7-footer – we may even be talking about it this time next year, based on Cleveland’s potential to go big with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. Small-ball succeeded, but that doesn’t mean the death of traditional lineups. Depending on the size and speed of your team, and the strengths and weaknesses of your stars, there are all kinds of ways of winning the championship – and Mike D’Antoni’s system is now officially among the options.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I’d say it looks brighter than ever. It took David Blatt a game, but once he figured out how to deploy Timofey Mozgov against that vortex of 6-foot-7 players, Mozgov had a pretty big impact on Game 6. Small lineups are the easiest to deploy, mostly because small players are the easiest thing to find. But uncover a seven-footer who can get up and down the court and he can destroy versus a small lineup. One of the oldest maxims in the NBA is height doesn’t grow on trees. And it still doesn’t.

22 Comments

  1. Kal says:

    imagine Delly had body checked Curry into the scores table at the end of game 4 and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green got off the bench all upset about it and got suspended for game 5 in G.S., Cleveland won and then in game 6 closed out the Warriors…

    wouldn’t that be like… ha… just so ah well? like nothing strategically questionable about it! like, ha, because rules protect the integrity of the game and don’t sometimes ironically ruin it, clouding what could have been the sunshine of Phoenix offence vs. a one man Witness show and instead sent the NBA into The Darkest Timeline / was the beginning of the end!

    and imagine someday Delly then worked for NBA.com and had something called the Delly scale rating physical play? actually, nevermind that last idea is a good one…

  2. Mark Porter says:

    GS won because of injuries of the cavs not small ball. With Kyrie and kevin the game would hae been different at 6’11 love going in and out for the 3 ball or he would post up a small could you see Green covering Love Thompson kill him and he cannot shoot. Also when you get tired you shoot outside a fresh LeBron with no rim protestor in the 4th would have ended small ball. Kyrie scores 30 with no rim protector. Aan then all the set shooters r not cover SO MUCH FOR SMALL BALL.

  3. dustydreamnz says:

    Yeah, depends on the team. The Cavs weren’t anywhere near as effective without Mozgov.

  4. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    I thought Mozgoz played really well and game 5 is were the Cavs could of pulled a win out on the road but Blatt played right into the Warriors hands with the small ball, it keep the game close and they had the lead in the 4th but the Warriors just controled the boards and the paint in the 4th should of brought Mozgoz back in, 10 mins played the whole game, bad coaching..

  5. OverseasNBAfan says:

    Its been said a lot last few years.. The league in general is starting to move away from hero ball or ISO heavy offense as the Spurs lead the way last finals and the Warriors emulated that this season, posting up all the time takes away from offensive flow and the whole team getting properly involved.
    Feels like I could fall asleep watching some post heavy games. Its not a solo sport and I don’t want to see one big man dominate the post over and over slowing the game down even more, like Memphis this style of post ups with almost no 3pt shooting is now outdated and not as effective against the modernized NBA teams. They can’t make big runs and reduce large deficits easy.

    Its interesting now because players at PF maybe even some Centers that can defend both at the rim or switch onto a guard easily will now be highly prized and top of every GMs wish list, Green the swiss army knife is that player.
    Evolution is great just embrace it, give me a fast paced exciting game and big men with more versatile/all-round skills.

    Sorry Sir Charles wrong again.. Looks like jump shooting teams can win the title and without a traditional bigman!

  6. Jason says:

    Sorry but if I have a Duncan, Robinson,Karl malone , Hakeem, or even Patrick Ewing I’m never benching any of these guys even as a rookie. All dominant all good free throw shooters an all great low post offense and defense guys. Put all the three point shooters you want on the floor I’ll take four good defenders and one of these big guys in there primes an I’ll own three straight championships in today’s NBA easily before anybody can do anything to change the tide. NBA has backed off of allowing low post defenders to be big time because there best player lebron James cannot shoot jump shots OK. It’s just what they do to support there talents and it just so happens that the talent in the league are dribble drivers and three point shooters. They changed the rules multiple times to accommodate the top performers in the league. It’s how you make money people. Big man is never dead in the NBA. Look at Anthony Davis the kid is dominant and I promise jahlil okafor will be as well. Look for kaminsky as well. There are a few other bigs in the draft that can produce but they are raw and need to sharpen skills but okafore and kaminsky are ready to start right now in the NBA an produce. Okafore can give you double double and kaminsky is a big time scorer with a lot of finish moves he’s just need to get better on defense. The big man game is alive and well people. Also Jefferson is a dominate low post scorer as well. And demarcus cousins ain’t no sloutch.

  7. Eja says:

    I don’t think there’s room for centers anymore. I mean the best team in the league somehow just overcame Timmofey Mosgov, king of the superstars, lord of double digit rebounders, and emperor of people who can smile. Plus, the Warriors are LOADED with players who are good or better defensively. Heck – the only one I can think of who isn’t that good at D is their regular season MVP who is responsible for dozens of points every game. The fact is that they didn’t even have to play Bogut because Mozgov wasn’t capable of consistently exploiting a size advantage.

  8. sports fan says:

    Not every team can be like Golden State. Players like the Gasol bros, Dwight Howard, & DeAndre Jordan will still be very effective in the post & still be needed very much. Future big men will always come into the league. They will be expected to show they can run the fast break, have better dribbling skills, & hit their free throws. Things are always cycling – there was an era of big men, then came the arrival of shooting guards & stretch fours, & now it’s the point guard. It will eventually cycle back to the big men.

  9. ScubaSteve says:

    I don’t think big me are really becoming obsolete. I think that right now there really aren’t that many truly good ones in the league and there are tons of terrific ones, twos, and threes. It really is a matchup issue. In the finals they flooded the floor with little guys. None of them could check Mozgov but he couldn’t keep up with them either. Mozgov is only an average big man so an average big man unchecked won’t have as much success as an unchecked Iguadala so Mozgov saw a lot of bench. Had the Cavs had a really good big man that was used to the amount of touches and could make better plays out of the post then Golden State wouldn’t have been able to use their primarily small lineup. Had they had Shaq, or even Dwight Howard they probably would have had their lunch eaten with a small lineup. There will always be a place for skilled big men and I think this series just proved that there is a need out there. If you don’t have talented big men then you will get run on by the small guys.

  10. Ashok kumar says:

    Congrats to warrios, the true champs. Now they are talking about changing the 3 point line to make the game suit the bigs. It sounds like Warriors played5 against 3 What a disrespect to J R Smith and Iman. Man up and take the defeat . Go Warrios

  11. TadaDoctorK says:

    Remember Zydrunas Ilgauskas, he used to shoot 3’s and be that big like 7’3 but did not own many other skills. Lebron used to love him cause he would spread the floor but never won a championship with that team. The game is about spacing, collective cohesion and skill sets.

    In this latest final;

    On the one hand you got a team full of complimentary talents and so incredibly deep. When you think that they had a couple ex allstars or best 6 men of many teams on the bench. No ego problem and a leader coach who has been to the promise land 5 times as a role player with little attributes with Phil and Pops has coaches to learn from to help ciment the knowledge. Kerr never had to carry a team but understands the support system it takes to win it and he played that role perfectly. Especially cherry picking matchups that would favor his team.

    On the other hand you got the most productive player in the league leading a team full of individuals that still struggle collectively. For sure Lebron knows how to get to the finals, but i doubt everybody can follow him in his super human pattern. His team was also built in one year even if they drafted a few players. So it will take at least one more year cause it is Lebron James and he will be hungrier than ever. Hopefully he has a bunch that will get addicted to the championship thing.

    The bottom line is big or small, they still have to play to compliment each other at both ends of the floor. So it is foolish to think that small ball beats big ball cause it’s a question of matchup’s and skill sets like it’s been said prior. I loved the comment Shaun Powell made about ” The next Hakeem Olajuwon won’t be sitting on the bench in The Finals”. But he also has to mesh with who they put on the floor ultimately.

    For the record Lang Whitaker; the best maxims that fits this bill is: ”You can’t teach hight”. Can anybody see what Antony Davis can become… That is why the Kwame Brown’s of the NCAA will still get drafted but have little or no impact and get’s subbed for quicker, smaller guys with real skills, especially with the game on the line or in the finals.

  12. taekayo says:

    I guess the league will find its way to evolve around this. Now being a 7 footer won’t automatically make you an NBA player, which is actually good. Mobility and a very sound skill set for a big man would be good for the league. The great centers before would still definitely have a place in today’s league. But the Darko’s, Olowokandi’s and other “just big” bigs would be filtered out. I say go with it and let the league evolve.

    If the league though wants to make things better, they better allow a more physical game and cut the rim defenders some slack. We have to admit that the league has gone too soft on flops and fouls. Let the bigs post up and bang bodies inside. Too many foul calls on the post would push the bigs to the FT line, which only a handful could make. And that’s the main reason why coaches would rather go for shooters than inside pounders. If Shaq was playing today, he would flip out that he would always be sent to the FT line rather than him dominating the post. And most star players almost always get a foul whenever they go against a rim defender. Blake can get an and-one even if he uses his forearm warding off a shotblocker. There’s just too much focus on highlights, that good rim defense are being pushed into oblivion.

  13. shoot1staskl8r says:

    The NBA is going to focus on do-it-all guys, no matter the position. Whether we get a Blake Griffin or a Kevin Garnett, a Derrick Rose or a Majic Johnson, a Yao Ming or a Tim Duncan. I can’t think of a SF with peanut brittle knees to compare to LeBron, but one’s out there somewhere.

  14. ajax says:

    Golden State went small in these finals because that was the matchup they would win – keeping Bogut on the floor allowed the Cavs to get away with both Mozgov and Thompson and let them slow the game down, give the ball to LeBron and be inefficient since their offensive rebounding was vastly superior.

    In contrast, the whole idea of playing small and fast is that you get “good” shots early and don’t care much if you miss and don’t get many offensive rebounds, because you’re going to get lots of chances. A shot being good depends on whos shooting and where from – but someone like Curry breaks this game because the vast majority of his shots are good, and the Warriors as a whole are designed to produce good shots from nearly anyone on the roster. The depleted Cavs could not hope to match it, not for 48 minutes a night.

    But if the Cavs were more healthy? Against a more balanced team? I don’t recall Bogut not playing in the earlier rounds. I don’t recall Dwight being the weak link in the Houston series, and DeAndre’s lack of floor spacing is not his true weakness as a player (nor is is FT shooting, its his dumb decisions at bad times, same as most of the Clippers). These finals showed that its efficiency and depth that wins games, as if anyone didn’t know that. If anything, the Warriors proved you can do it with smaller players, not that its the only way.

  15. harriethehawk says:

    There will never be another Shaquille O’Neal.

  16. TKaminaga says:

    I don’t agree that big man game is done.
    To me it’s all about balance. Let’s put it this way – say everyone goes small and then 1 team has the next Hakeem or Shaq… than who’s going to guard him? He’ll dominate and teams has to adjust and start having big men.
    Remember Wilt? He was the first dominant center and teams had to adjust… hell, NBA had to adjust so he doesn’t dominate as much… and yet he still did.
    I agree with skilled big-men will have a big place in NBA. As at the moment there really isn’t any… all are these hybrid centres.

  17. ism says:

    It’s up to the players. To quote Shaun Powell, “the next Hakeem Olajuwon won’t be sitting on the bench in The Finals”. We just haven’t seen the next Hakeem. Let’s just be clear about one thing: when we are talking about “Big Men”, here, we are not talking about hybrids like Dirk, who can also shoot the 3 very well. We are talking about Big Men like Shaq, Hakeem, David Robinson or Patrick Ewing. And in today’s league with today’s rules, we just haven’t seen that kind of a dominant player, but if a team finds a way to exploit such a threat – and the player is that good – we will talk differently about it, just like Ian Thomsen said above.

    I agree with Mr. Aschburner that true Big Men are still one of if not the most appealing thing about the NBA, we just haven’t seen a sheer dominant center in quite a while. Maybe now more than ever the next superstar Big Man will need a good cast of unselfish role players and 3-point-shooters to stretch the floor and play an inside-out-game and pick-and-rolls that are dangerous enough to challenge teams like the 2014 Spurs, the 2012 Heat and the 2015 Warriors. But no matter how talented guys like Gasol, Chandler, Howard and the likes are, I don’t think there is such a player right now, and Joel Embiid’s new injury might be a reason for us to wait even longer for it. Anthony Davis, if he plays more like a 5 than like a 4, certainly has the potential.

  18. Jim Muncy says:

    Cleveland was depleted and they still put up a pretty good fight. Outside of Lebron, their only reliable offense was Mozgov and Thompson (who plays big). Cleveland’s bigs had a huge role in this playoff. Without Mosgov and Thompson (playing like a traditional big), Cleveland is gone in four and three of them are blow-outs.

  19. KC says:

    This is a typical overreaction. Lang Whitaker, at least, was paying attention in game 6. Moszgov was HUGE in game 6, guarding the rim and even swatting a Curry lay-up. When you’re that long and even remotely athletic, guys have to think twice about entering the paint. And, as we saw in Game 6, even an amazing shooting team like the GS Warriors had some stretches where they just kept jacking up 3’s and missing. Golden State didn’t win because their offense overpowered the Cavs. The Cavs helped too, committing19 turnovers to Golden State’s 9. The Cavs were tired, undermanned, and lacked the overall talent of the Warriors. That doesn’t mean suddenly Mosgov isn’t incredibly important to that team. One very common and effective way of getting those open looks outside is to play inside-out, and big men are a big part of that.

  20. ballislife says:

    The age of the big men is over as we used to know it; the finals were self-evident of that fact. This finals broke viewing records and tv ratings for the NBA and that’s because of the excitement behind the guards and small forwards. “Part of the appeal of pro basketball always has been its big men..” is simply not true. The appeal of pro basketball is to watch men play a sport in a whole other level than you get at a local playground. “Big men” with skills was a resounding answer as well but that’s the case with every position. No, this is a changing of the guard, the 3 point shot is a big deal, and all these old people need to get with the new hotness.

    • Paul says:

      Disagree. There just has not been a great big man in a while. No skills or dominance on the offensive or defensive ends. No Shaq, Hakeem, Robinson, Ewing. We just have injury prone centres at the moment who can only dominate at one end but not both ends. The current league is ripe for dominant centres who can shoot some free throws to re-emerge

    • Milich says:

      What nonsense are you talking about? Mozgov is an old-school seven-footer that forced another seven-footer in Bogut to the bench. “Bigs” have been part of the allure of the NBA for the past SIXTY years. The AAU is the causation behind the lack of skills in today’s players who have become the one and done generation of college players. The NBA changed it’s rules so you can’t touch perimeter players which allows this new style of gun and gun nothing but three-pointers. IF the Cavs had Kyrie Irving we wouldn’t even be writing about this. The Warriors were simply much, much deeper than the Cavs. The Warriors played centers Bogut, Fezeli and Speigts all year long but were forced into “small-ball” becasue Mozgov, Thompson and James were killing them inside.