Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal are names people would associate with when thinking of the “Mount Rushmore” of power forwards, and centers in NBA league history. The one thing all these players have in common is that they were “back to the basket” type players. No matter who was defending them they could use their elite strength to get into the best possible scoring position. These kinds of players are a dying breed in today's league. NBA teams are starting to play inside-out with the rising stars like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving have taken the league by storm; changing the game from a big man orientated play-style, to a more spaced out game. The current and future big men of the NBA must fine tune their game to be a more all-around star.
Karl-Anthony Towns is the perfect prototype of the new era of bigs. Outside of having a strong defense and post game, he can do a little bit of everything. On multiple occasions, he has driven by slower opponents and gotten the easy lay-up/dunk. He is even able to shoot the open midrange and three-pointers. This skill-set has allowed him to explode onto the scene and immediately dominate. Something that a twenty-year-old in his second year as a professional should not be doing. If he can continue on this other-worldly level. He will be a lock for an invite to the All-Star team.
Other athletes are even starting to spread their game out. DeMarcus Cousins was drafted in 2010 by the Sacramento Kings and has been a force to reckon with ever since. According to ESPN, Cousins attempted 69 total three-pointers in the first 5 years of his career. Out of those 69, he only made a grand total of 11 three pointers. Leaving him shooting an atrocious 15% from deep, however, in last season alone he made 70 out of 210 for a modest 33%. This season he is already on pace to exceed his previous season's shooting marks. Other players are using Cousin's sudden emergence of a deep shot as a blueprint for their personal game to keep up with the ever-changing league.
Cousins and Towns are leading the forefront of future big men in the NBA. High school and college players are aware now that they can’t be one-dimensional. If they want to have value has a basketball player. Every position needs to be able to do a little bit of everything. Otherwise, you risk being left in the dust.