The point guard's role is similar to the director on a movie set, as he calls the plays and directs the offence. As it's his job to get the ball to his teammates in the best position where they can score, he is usually the best passer and dribbler on the team. Point guards are often the smallest and quickest players on the team and are often referred to as the one guard or the lead guard. Point guards typically are judged by how well they distribute the ball to their teammates, resulting in assists.
Jason Kidd is one of the league's top point guards. (NBAE Photos)
The Shooting Guard
The shooting guard is normally relied upon to be able to shoot from the outside and provide some scoring punch. Shooting guards are usually taller than point guards, and may take a higher number of shots. The shooting guard position relates to the #2 position on the floor, being referred to as the two guard or the off guard.
As a shooting guard, Vince Carter takes advantage of his outside shooting ability. (NBAE Photos)
The Small Forward
The small forward is typically a prolific scorer and a strong defender. Versatility is normally the trademark of a good small forward, who must be big enough to play close to the basket, but quick enough to play on the perimeter. This is the #3 position on the floor, so a small forward may be referred to as a three man.
Glenn Robinson is a prototypical small forward. (NBAE Photos)
The Power Forward
Like the name suggests, these players usually excel at the more physical elements of the game: rebounding and defence. They are normally among the physically strongest players on a basketball team. The power forward plays the #4 position and may be referred to as a post player, meaning he spends much of his time in the low post (close to the basket).
Power forward Karl Malone excels as an interior defender and defensive rebounder. (NBAE Photos)
The centre is very important as he is relied upon at both ends of the floor. On offence, the centre must be able to score inside (close to the basket), while on defence, he must block shots and rebound. The centre is usually the tallest player on the team, with most NBA centres being close to seven feet in height, if not taller. The centre is the #5 position on the floor and is often referred to as a big man or post player.
Centre Shaquille O'Neal is a strong offensive player and an intimidator on defence. (NBAE Photos)