Basketball Tutorial Lesson 1


C - Center = The center is, quite simply, the most physical of all five positions on the floor. It requires an ability to score while absorbing large amounts of physical contact. On the defensive end, the center must be able to play with a large amount of body control and finesse, while not sacrificing his physicality and aggressiveness. Offensively, the center is oftentimes called upon to score in close situations, given that he is the most likely of anybody on the court to be able to get off a high percentage shot or draw a foul. A team with an offensively talented center has a tremendous advantage, given that they can rely on him to get the points when the perimeter players are not shooting well. Or when the game is close and they don't want to risk taking a long range shot they can turn to their dominant center. Defensively, the center is the most important position, as he is the last line of defense against people driving towards the basket. The best centers block three to four shots a game, and change countless others. They are excellent rebounders, which helps a team's offense immensely, as they are given numerous fast-break points capitalized off of the opposing team's missed shot. Historically, the best NBA centers are players like Kareem Abdul Jabaar and Patrick Ewing, who have been able to combine their fierce competitive desires with very advanced offensive and defensive repertoires.

PF - Power Forward = The power forward must excel on the defensive end of the court. He not only has to be a tremendous defensive rebounder, but, he must be able to play outstanding defense in the post. Often times the power forward is called upon to guard the other team's center given that his own center finds himself in foul trouble. The strength of a team's ability to fastbreak lies in the power forward, who should almost always lead his team in rebounding. His ability to take the ball off the glass and throw the outlet to his point guard with both speed and efficiency is imperative to fast break points. On the offensive end, a good power forward creates second-chance opportunities for his team by grabbing offensive rebounds, providing his team with another possession. Also, he must be able to hit the open jump shot, as he often finds himself as the man left open when defenses are attempting to shut down his center or one of his team's sharp-shooting guards. Power forwards also must provide that intangible spark for their team: his physical and mental toughness should fire up his teammates. He should be the ultimate leader by example.

SF - Small Forward = The small forward should be the best one-on-one player on his team. He needs to be able to have a nose for the basket, and translate that scent into points for his team. When an offensive set breaks down, the small forward should be able to take his man off the dribble, and get into the lane to make something happen. He should be able to run the floor with ease, and have the ability to score at will when he gets the ball on a fastbreak. Though being a fabulous shooter is not expected, he should be able to consistently hit the outside shot, which thus forces his defender to play him honestly, rather than sagging off and making him beat him strictly from the outside. The small forward needs to be an energy player; he has to be the person that provides an exciting basket or play when the team needs a lift. Defensively, his ability to shut down the other team' swing-men's the two and three positions are often called's very important. The small forward also needs to be able to handle the ball; he should be able to get his team into the offense if his point guard is being heavily pressured. Though a strong post game is not required, he should be able to play out of the post, using his quickness to his advantage against slower defenders.

SG - Shooting Guard = In today's game, with three-point shot being such a key element of a team's offensive strategy, the role of a shooting guard has become significantly expanded. He has to be able to play excellent defense and create shots for himself in the halfcourt offense. He needs to be a weapon from long range as well. This is true because the better a shooting guard (or two-guard, as he is commonly called) can shoot from behind the three point line, the more it forces defenses to step farther out on the court to guard him. This is turn allows the lane to be open to both penetration and for the post players. It is also imperative that the shooting guard be able to be a spot-up shooter'o be able to catch and shoot's well as be able to create his own shot off the dribble. Because the shooting guard is often called upon to get the team a quality shot when their offense has broken down. In other words, when a play has not worked, or the opposing team' defense has thrown a team out of sync, the shooting guard must step up and be able to create something out of nothing, a task of immeasurable value to a team. In the open floor, the two-guard must be able to run the lanes effectively, and be able to after receiving the ball in a fastbreak situation. take the ball to the basket and score. The great two guards, Allan Houston, Reggie Miller, Mitch Richmond, are able to dominate a game with their scoring ability, s well as play solid defense at the other end. Though they do not have nearly the amount of responsibility heaped upon them that point guards do, a talented two-guard is an integral part of a successful team, given that he is called upon to perform so many varying tasks on the floor.

PG - Point Guard = Point Guard is arguably the most difficult of the five positions to play on the floor. He is responsible for getting his team into its offense, making sure all of the players are aware of their roles on the floor, and, above all, creating scoring opportunities for both the players around him, and himself—in that order. One of the most difficult responsibilities of playing point guard is his need to have his mind moving in several directions at once. He has to recognize and respond to the type of defense that the opposition is playing (i.e. zone, man-to-man, etc.), and make sure his players are in the correct spots in order to start the offense or the play. He has to initiate the offense while having to worry about taking care of the ball, oftentimes against tremendous defensive pressure from his opponent(s). Also, he is the only player within the offensive structure that has to juggle his responsibilities, both as a passer and as a scorer. It is, to varying extents, the other four players jobs on the floor to create scoring opportunities for themselves, the point guard must make sure that his attempts to score are not coming at the expense of his teammates. In other words, he has to score without disrupting the flow of the offense or freezing out his teammates. Therefore, he is faced with juggling the ultimate paradox: reaction vs. thought. He must constantly think about what is best for the team in the given situation i.e. the score, the quarter, the time remaining, which players are on the floor, etc controlling his natural reactions to the events around him. He can never do just one or the other. If he thinks and does not react, then he is nothing more than a robot running his team through their offense. If he reacts and does not think, he is a mindless drifter who has no idea what is going on around him. However, the point guard can also be the most satisfying of the five positions, given that he is able to most fully exert his will upon that of the team; he is in control. By the very nature of the demands of his position, the ball is in his hands more often than it is not, and he can therefore act as an integral part of his team's success. Much like a quarterback in football, he must be the most aware of all elements of the game. Because of that, he also stands to gain substantial glory if his team succeeds.



Best active center to watch : Shaquile O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon

Best active power forward to watch : Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber

Best active small forward to watch : Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady

Best active shooting guard to watch : Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan*, Gary Payton, Paul Pierce

Best active point guard to watch : Jason Kidd, John Stockton*, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash


* may retire