Basketball Positions: An Easy Guide To Roles, Responsibilities And Styles

The basketball players are coming all shapes and sizes. Some specialize in rating, some in rebounds, some in dribbling, some in assists, some in dunks, some in setting screens and some in jump shots. That being said, there are five basketball positions that traditionally accommodate certain skills.

Before I break down the positions, I want to clarify the numeric labels commonly associated with each position. For example, the playmaker is called the one, the shooting guard both, the little before all three, and so on.



Guard point (1)

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The playmaker? Often called the general of the prosecution? has the most the ball in his hands. They are usually the best ball handlers, passers and playmakers. Offense runs through them and it’s their job to dictate the pace of the game. Playmakers create the dribble with their speed and are a viable scorer. Famous NBA playmakers include Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.

Shooting Guard (2)

The shooting goaltender is a secondary ball manager and generally more of a threat to the score than the point guard. They live up to the namesake of their position and are the best shooter most of the time, with some specializing in long range shots beyond the 3 point line. Shooting guards, also known as off guard, can also be pesky perimeter defenders who protect the best outside threat from opponents. Famous NBA shooting guards include Michael jordan, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Klay Thompson and Clyde Drexler.

Small front (3)

The small front is the hybrid position between the guard and the front. They are generally one of the most versatile players on the pitch and can hold multiple positions. Small forwards operate on the wing and can perform inside and perimeter plays while having good ball handling skills. They are also sometimes called the swingman. Famous NBA small forwards include Larry Bird, Kawhi Leonard, Scottie Pippen and Kevin Durant. Perhaps the most famous is James lebron, whose prowess as a dribbler and on the quick counterattack helped him shape a new style of position as a “point forward”.

Power forward (4)

Powerful forwards are usually the second tallest players on basketball teams. They can rebound well and work down or in the midrange. However, the power striker position has evolved into snipers in today’s game, as three-point shooting is more valuable than ever. Famous NBA forwards include Tim Duncan, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett, Anthony Davis and Kevin Love.

Center (5)

Crosses (often referred to as the big man) are the tallest players on the pitch and work almost exclusively at post. They are the best rebounders on the team and can score effectively around the basket. Their favorite shot is a layup, and they can be disruptive shot blockers. Famous central NBA players include Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlin, Bill russell, Joel Embiid and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Hope this guide can be a point of reference the next time you hit the basketball court or a game is played.