Even as it is a guard league, not everyone is buying into NBA modernism. The idea that big men are the NBA’s dinosaur and therefore are obsolete is an overreaction to small ball success by teams such as the Golden State Warriors with iconic scoring guards. Even as most NBA G.M.’s scour the world for three point shooters and ball handlers who can get in the lane and finish in traffic, there are a few old school front office strategists who think size still matters.
The Memphis Grizzlies, with 7-1 Marc Gasol and 6-9 Zach Randolph as their dominant players, have been one of the worst three point shooting teams in the league the last three years. And they have been playoff contenders the last three years.
The Cleveland Cavaliers loaded up their front court with 7-1 Timofey Mozgov, 6-9 Tristan Thompson and 6-10 Kevin Love just in time to get to the NBA Finals.
The Miami Heat’s season outlook did a drastic turnaround when they utilized 7-0 Hassan Whiteside. And the Los Angeles Clippers would have been a fifth or sixth seed if 6-11 DeAndre Jordan had been allowed to defect to Dallas.
Yes, big guys matter. The question is, do you have the right big guy? Are they athletic, versatile and skilled, or are they just tall?
The Sacramento Kings with 6-11 DeMarcus Cousins and 7-0 Willey Cauley Stein in the front court are the latest to use the twin towers model. Cauley-Stein is a rookie and what he can do right now is defend just about every position and finish at the rim. Cousins, in his sixth NBA season, is the best center in the NBA, when judged on talent. He can score, rebound, somewhat defend his position. He has the ability to carry an offense and to be the best player, but in close games that have high stress markers, Cousins has been known to lose it which can cost his team the game.
Veteran coach George Karl is not exactly a renaissance mean starting two bigs. His backcourt is small. He has Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison. Collison is a six foot shooting guard who isn’t much of a defender and is going to get eaten up by 6-7 Klay Thompson and 6-5 James Harden. The only antidote is to go really big.
Around the big guys the Kings have Rudy Gay. Their bench is pretty thin but for the first time since 2006 the Kings have a shot at making the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed.
photo via llananba