Swirsky on Big Men
Posted Sep 20 2002 2:43PM
Toronto Raptors TV and radio voice Chuck Swirsky gives NBA.com/Canada the skinny on NBA big men.
OK, before you gasp, choke and scream at your PC let me tell you the greatest center in the history of the NBA was not Kareem, Russell, Wilt, Mikan, Hakeem or Shaq. The best big man I have ever seen based on his versatility, fluidity, skill and knowledge has to be . . . envelope please . . . Bill Walton.
His career was cut short by a series of foot injuries, but look at Walton in his prime and tell me he didn't make players around him better. Bobby Gross, Dave Twardzik, Lloyd Neal . . . all wear a championship ring thanks to the Big Redhead. Let me break it down this way: his outlet passing was second to none. Wes Unseld was close, but Walton is the best. Rebounding? Wilt was dominant as was Russell, but Walton didn't have the strength of those two and still got it done in the paint. Kareem, Wilt, Russell nor Shaq possessed Walton's mid-range jumper. Before Walton called it a career – and by the way, he won the Sixth Man Award on an NBA-title team in the twilight of his career – Walton was as good as anyone. He also was able to put the ball on the floor and was as fundamentally sound as any player . . . period. Hakeem was the quickest big man ever. But the bottom line . . . when healthy – that's a big "when" – Walton was the guy.
If I were a scout I would look for multi-skills out of my big man. Does he set up others? Once the ball goes into the paint, does he make the right decision with the ball or does he force an errant pass or out-of-control shot? Is he willing to share the ball? Does he box-out properly? Is he nasty enough to protect his teammates?
Playing the post is a skill and if you do it right, you'll not only be a 10-to-15-year pro player, but will never be out of work long.