Basketball Rules Player Positions Basketball Strategy Basketball Glossary
The rules of basketball do not define any specific player positions. This is different from many other major sports like football, baseball, and soccer where at least some players must be in certain positions during the play of the game (the goalie in soccer, for example). So the positions in basketball are more part of an overall strategy of the game. There are 5 traditional positions that most teams have in their offense and defensive schemes. Many players today are interchangeable or can play many positions. Also, many teams have rosters and players that allow them to try different set ups like a three guard offense, for example.
The five traditional basketball player positions are:
Point guard: The point guard is the team leader and play caller on the basketball court. A point guard needs good ball handling skills, passing skills as well as strong leadership and decision making skills. Traditionally basketball point guards were small, fast players and this is still often the case. However, Magic Johnson changed the way point guards were used. He was a big 6-8 player that used his height and size to get great passing angles. Magic's success has opened the door for all sorts of point guards. The key to a strong point guard today is leadership, passing, and running the team.
Shooting guard: The shooting guard in basketball has the main responsibility of making long outside shots including the three-point shot. The shooting guard also should be a good passer and able to help the point guard with the ball handling. Shooting guards are often the top scorer on a team. Perhaps the best shooting guard in the history of basketball was Michael Jordan. Jordan could do it all, from scoring to defense to rebounding. It's this versatility that makes a great shooting guard, but all shooting guards should be able to extend the defense with their outside shot.
Small forward: Along with the shooting guard, the small forward is often the most versatile player on the basketball team. They should be able to help with ball handling, make an outside shot, and get rebounds. The small forward is often a great defensive player as well. The combination of height and quickness can allow them to defend a number of positions and take on the best scorer on the opposing team. On many teams today the small forward and the shooting guard are almost the same position and are called "wing" players.
Power forward: The power forward on a basketball team is usually responsible for rebounding and some scoring in the paint. A power forward should be big and strong and able to clear out some space under the basket. Many great power forwards in the game today do not score a lot of points, but lead their team in rebounds. Power forwards are often good shot blockers as well.
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