The age of the traditional, back-to-the-basket big man dominating the game is by all indications over. So why in the world would anyone still hold on to the notion that a dominant, low-post big man is the way to go with the No. 1 pick in next week's NBA draft? Still, most mock drafts have Arizona big man Deandre Ayton as the consensus No. 1 pick, based largely on the age-old theory that a potentially transcendent big man cannot be passed up on draft night.
The only problem with that theory is that it doesn't ring true in an NBA where all indications are you do not need an elite big man to win and win big (see the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and every other legitimate title contender in basketball right now). What if it's Luka Doncic and not Ayton or even Duke's 7-footer Marvin Bagley (who is not exactly a traditional big man) that is the right fit for the Phoenix Suns with that top pick? Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic examines that very topic with decision day looming:
What if there’s a reason the NBA’s final four – the Rockets, Celtics, Cavaliers and Warriors – don’t rely on a traditional back-to-the-basket big man?
“Today’s game is obviously five guys touching the ball, movement, quick-strike offense,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said in a phone interview last month. “All of those things are what today’s game has become.”
The Suns even went and got a coach who knows how to win with an uptempo style. Igor Kokoskov led Slovenia to a title over in Europe by running and gunning. He’s also coached slower, more traditionally constructed teams, but why not give him a roster that mirrors his greatest success?
What if there’s a reason teams that revolve around a traditional post, like the Clippers, Pistons and Grizzlies, didn’t even make the playoffs?
“Center” as a position isn’t even on All-Star ballots anymore. What if the game has evolved beyond them, thanks in part to Kokoskov’s work in Phoenix with Alvin Gentry, restoring the rush to the Suns after Shaquille O’Neal slowed the “Seven Seconds or Less” era?
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, the original architect of that attack, gave the Warriors all they could handle in the West finals. Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who was around in those days, too, has perfected the system in the Bay.
“You have to have some big guys in order to defend, rebound and block shots,” Kerr said in April. “It just so happens that nowadays those big men need to be skilled to stay on the floor for a lengthy period of time.”
What if that’s the reason the good young bigs such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid and DeMarcus Cousins haven’t established themselves in the playoffs?
What if the buzz around Luka Doncic is legit? He’s 6-8, 220, can handle the ball, pass and create his own shot.
What if the skepticism surrounding him is based on ignorance and stereotypes?
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