Are you a big man? Are you a guard? Do you know? What basketball position are you? Does it matter? Some basketball players ask themselves, “What position should I play?” In some people’s perspective, a position in basketball is losing its importance, but other persons still believe in the importance of positions. Maybe we can find the best points from both arguments and find a way to meet in the middle.
Many young players want to play a position based on their basketball heroes play that position. Some players put into a position when they start playing by their coaches, and some players just fall into a position based on what the team needs.
We know that the position that you play will affect your responsibilities on the court, so it is critical that you choose the right one. In this article, we will be providing you with in-depth information on the different positions so that you will have all the information necessary for making an informed decision.
What are the Starting Positions in Basketball?
In full-court basketball, five players from each team are present on the court. These five players are categorized by a position each. Five different positions are assigned to these players. These positions are:
- Point Guard (PG/1)
- Shooting Guard (SG/2)
- Small Forward (SF/3)
- Power Forward (PF/4)
- Center (C/5)
Unlike soccer, there won’t be two players at the same position even if their skill sets are the same. It usually suits the team best if the five players can contribute in different ways to the game, however, sometimes there are two or more players on the court that are quite similar in skillsets or playing styles. Even though this may happen, the players will still be placed under one of these positions while on the court.
Some players excel in the roles of a position so they are assigned that position off court, but sometimes while on the court, they are placed under another category based on who they are playing with. Like Kevin Durant is an excellent small forward, however, most times while playing with the Golden State Warriors, he played at the four or five positions.
The starting positions in today’s game may not be as vital as they were in the past as the style of play in basketball is somewhat changing.
What Does Each Basketball Position Do?
A lot of the times, each player on a basketball court has a particular set of responsibilities based on their positions. Sometimes, a player is assigned a position because of their skills and, sometimes, to a lesser extent, their size.
You can choose the position that best suits your capabilities or based on the skills that you want to learn. Your coaches should help you to develop these skills so that you can contribute to your team and not be a liability. If you are in the wrong position, you can be a liability on both offense and defense.
Let’s now look at the responsibilities of each position on the court. These are general responsibilities as some players will play a position but have responsibilities of another. This is because they may have skills that are better than the player in that other position. An example is LeBron James leading his team’s offense from the small forward position even with a point guard on the floor.
Point Guard (PG)
This may be the best basketball position for short players. The overall responsibility of a point guard is to lead the team on offense and be a primary ball defender on the perimeter. Keep in mind that not all teams will play behind this concept. There are different types of point guards, and their leadership will often be based on their skillsets.
A point guard is often said to be an extension of the coach on the court. The saying is popular because the point guard usually calls plays as they control the ball in most cases. Point guards that dictate the offense exceptionally well are nicknamed Floor Generals. Chris Paul is often referred to by this name.
As we mentioned before, many point guards play in different ways. This is one of the reasons why we all love this game so much. We can all put our stamp on the game in so many different ways.
There are many types of point guards. Let’s look at each category. There is the dribble penetrator like a Rondo, the sniper like a Curry, the visionary passer like a Lonzo, and a combo PG like a John Wall. Every lifetime, there will be a PG that doesn’t fit into any group, just in a class of their own, like a Westbrook.
Shooting Guard (SG)
There are many different types of shooting guards, and their responsibilities will be based on their type. Coaches try to get shooting guards that fit into the team culture. If the shooting guard is a generational talent, then the coach usually tries to build the team around the shooting guard. An example of this is James Harden and the Huston Rockets. We have written an article on what exactly is a generational talent in basketball.
Even though there are different types of shooting guards, they often have one responsibility in common. That is to be a scoring option from a shooting position. As a shooting guard, it is quite fair for you to be able to knock down shots at a high clip. Some shooting guards aren’t the best shooters, so they try to get to the rim as often as they can. A great shooting guard that excelled at this was Dwyane Wade.
As shooting guards are the biggest of the frontcourt duet, they are often tasked with the biggest defensive responsibility on the perimeter. This may not always be the case, but it quite normal. Some shooting guards aren’t quite as adequate on the defensive end as they are on offense, so they may have to be covered by their team.
Check this comprehensive guide on what does shooting guards do in basketball.
Small Forward (SF)
A small forward is often seen as the bridge between the bigs and the guards. When teams are blessed with a talented small forward, they have hit the jackpot and should try to hold on to them as long as they can. A small forward is chosen by size and skill. These two factors are significant for players that want to play in that position. Let’s look at the size factor first. Small Forwards need to be big enough to play post defense and offense if necessary.
They also need to be tall enough to defend perimeter shooters and be tall enough shooting effectively over shorter perimeter defenders. A player that is too small or short will not play this position effectively as they will be bullied on defense and find it difficult to execute on offense.
Now let’s talk about the skill aspect. You can’t be an effective small forward if you can’t shoot at a decent percentage. You aren’t going to be effective in the post if you don’t have any post moves, and you also need to be tactically sound on defense. You need to be quick enough to defend the perimeter and also be capable of slowing down or stopping post plays.
Power Forward (PF)
A power forward or four is an extension of the center. In some ways, their roles are similar. Some teams do not play with a traditional power forward, but instead, they slide a very big small forward into that position. This usually allows for more offensive versatility.
Traditionally, a power forward is a more versatile shot-making big man. Over time, many power forwards stretched their effectiveness from inside and around the paint to outside. This allowed teams to stretch the defense and open up the game. Dirk Nowitzki popularized the concept of a stretch four. These types of power forwards are not very popular as big players aren’t usually the most agile and shot capable players.
Power forwards are usually required to generate points in and around the paint. They are usually strong players that can battle with other bigs on the block. Power forwards are also expected to help the center clean the glass on both ends of the court.
This may be the best basketball position for tall players. The center is usually the tallest player on the court. Again, not always the case, but it is the norm. Players that want to play the center position should work on their strength as they will most likely be playing the strongest players on the opposing teams that they will play.
The center position is also evolving. We are seeing more and more centers extending their game to the outside of the paint. Some are now capable shooters from the perimeter like Brook Lopez and Karl-Anthony Towns. Teams with assets like these can generate offense easier as they don’t have a clogged lane playing against.
Centers are normally expected to be the primary source of rebounds and points around the rim. Some centers are talented enough to generate their own offense while some, unfortunately, are not. Centers that can create their own offense are usually capable of dribbling the ball quite well, and their footwork is usually exceptional.
What is the Most Important Position in Basketball?
The answer to this question is very simple, none. While some teams have individual players that are more important than others, these players do not all play the same position. If you were to ask the coach of the Clippers, Nets, 76ers, Warriors, and Timberwolves that question, chances are you would get five different answers.
Each of the teams mentioned has generational talents at different positions, and these guys are their most important players. I bet you that the Michael Jordan Bulls would say that the shooting guard is the most important position as this is the position from which MJ lead the bulls. In another breath, the Lebron James‘ Cavs would say that the small forward is the most important position as this is where LBJ lead them from.
The point that we are trying to make is that each position my not have equal importance on individual teams, but we are talking about basketball in general. Many people would say that the point guard position is the most important because the PG dictates the offense. Well, we hear your argument, but what about defense? Isn’t it the center and power forward that should be the leader on defense? Isn’t defense equally important?
Each player on the court has a specific role that the teams need. As the saying goes, a chain is as strong as it’s weakest link.
What Position Dunks the Most?
Dunks are always spectacular to watch. They give us a sense of incredibleness when we watch or do them because no other sport has something that they can quite compare to dunks. Understandably, you would like to know which position dunks the most so perhaps, you can train to play in that position.
The players that dunk the most don’t necessarily do so because of their position. As you may already know, anyone can dunk the ball at any opportunity. Dunking doesn’t depend on position but more on jumping ability and height. The positions with the most height tend to be the power forward, small forward, and center positions. Because these guys are taller, it is a lot easier for them to get over the rim for those spectacular finishes.
With that said, athletic guards are also capable of high-flying finishes. Most NBA dunk contest winners are guards. Because of their height strength and the fact that they play closer to the rim than guards, frontcourt players tend to dunk more in games. In the 2018-2019 NBA season, Rudy Gobert, A center for the Utah Jazz, led the NBA in dunks.
What is the Hardest Position in Basketball?
This question is similar to what position is the most important? The answer will vary based on who you ask. Each position has its own challenges, and while some may be greater than others, there really isn’t a clear-cut answer.
Some people may say that if you are scoring the most at a position, you can’t be playing the hardest position. That would be a valid statement if the only thing that mattered were scoring. To answer this question, we first need to look at several factors such as physicality, degree of concentration, number of roles, and skills that the players at these positions need to master.
A guard may not necessarily need to be as physical as a center, however, a center does not need to facilitate as much as a guard. A power forward may not need to knock down as many jumpers as a shooting guard, but, on the other hand, a shooting guard is not expected to rebound as a power forward. A small forward does not have to rebound like a center, but a center does not have to slash as a small forward.
The difficulty of the positions also depends on the opponents. Surely you will have a more difficult time playing against a Kevin Garnet than you would a Dirk Nowitzki. What we are saying is, if you want to know what is the hardest or what is the easiest position in basketball? Our answer is none.
How Do You Choose a Basketball Position?
So, are you asking yourself, “What basketball player am I?” This is a crucial question. The beauty of basketball is that you can always transition into another position if you are better suited for something other than your first choice.
You will need to consider your physical size and skills when you are deciding what position to play at. The best basketball position for short players is usually the point guard position, but remember that you will need to also work on your court vision, passing, dribbling, and shooting skills.
Taller players are best suited but in no way limited to front court positions. Choose a position that you feel comfortable playing in and then work on the skills that will make you productive.
Wrapping Things Up: What Basketball Position Are You?
You can play any position as long as you are physically capable of handling that position. Remember that you will also need to excel at the skills necessary to contribute positively to your team while playing at the position of your choice.
Until next time ballers, choose your position wisely. Position yourself to succeed.
If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other basketball FAQ articles here.
> What is Dribbling in Basketball?
>What Does a Shooting Guard Do in Basketball?
> How Many Players are on a Basketball Team?