A team's centre and power forward are considered the "big men" on the team. Together with the small forward, they comprise a team's frontcourt players.

Centre
On offence, the centre must be able to score inside (close to the basket) and on defence, must excel at blocking shots and rebounding. The centre is usually the tallest player on the team and is the "number five" position on the court.

Power Forward
The power forward typically excels at the more physical elements of the game: rebounding and defence. Most often, he is the strongest player on the team. Both power forwards and centres are considered the big men on the team, and play in the post.

Types of big men:

Shaquille O'Neal
Centre Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the league's most dominant big men.
(Bill Baptist/NBAE/
Getty Images)

Post-Up Players
A post-up player positions himself below the free throw line for a pass with his back to the basket and a defender behind him. Posting up is common among big men in the NBA, as they can use their size and strength to gain position in the low blocks. Most players use the post-up position as a reliable way of gaining space and good offensive position to shoot, pass or rebound the ball. Points in the paint are considered high percentage shots (shots that are likely to go in).

Post-up players do their offensive work in the key or paint (the painted area beneath the foul line). Perimeter players passing to the post use ball fakes on their defender to pass the ball to the low post player. This is called "opening the window" because the up and down movements with the ball are similar to the up and down movements of opening a window. If the ball is double-teamed, the post player passes the ball back to a perimeter player. Establishing an inside game and scoring some easy baskets on layups and offensive rebounds, thus drawing the defence, results in open looks for unguarded shooters on the perimeter.

"20 and 10" Players
"20 and 10" players consistently produce 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in games.

Frontcourt players, such as the Lakers' Karl Malone, are able to play at a higher level at an older age than perimeter players because they rely on size and fundamental skills rather than athletic ability and quickness. Malone is a career 20 and 10 player.

Concerns of big men:

Basketball U Three-Second Violation
The three-second violation (or "three in the key") states that an offensive (or defensive) player cannot stand in the free throw lane for more than three seconds. The offensive three-second violation was introduced in 1935 as a way of keeping players from positioning themselves directly in front of the hoop for easy baskets.

The NBA has twice widened the lane: first for George Mikan and later, for Wilt Chamberlain. Mikan began playing with a six-foot lane, but it was changed to 12 feet across. Chamberlain began playing with a 12-foot lane, and it was changed to 16 feet across. Both Mikan and Chamberlain were championship centres for the Lakers, much like their successor, Shaquille O'Neal.

Offensive Rebounding
Rebounding is one of the keys to a good offence. Teams want to get a good shot or be in a good position to get second opportunities through offensive rebounds that allow the offence to retain possession of the ball and reset 24 seconds on the shot clock. The offence can take a quick shot or set their play up all over again. Though all players should rebound, the best offensive rebounders are usually centres and power forwards, such as Elton Brand of the Los Angeles Clippers. Teams that have all of their players focused on offensive rebounding may be vulnerable to fast breaks because if they do not get the ball back, the other team may have an advantage going the other way since there is no player back on defence.

Coaches and teammates may accuse a player of passing or shooting too much, but no player can ever rebound too much. Offensively, it gives a team more chances to score, while defensively it ends the play for the offensive team. Smart rebounders will position themselves on the weak side, because missed shots usually bounce there. Weak side rebounders often get key offensive rebounds, giving the offensive team another chance to score.