Would team of big guys beat little guys?

BY foxsports • February 17, 2010

Could you settle a debate between a couple of knuckleheads? Hypothetically, let's say 10 NBA players get together for an unofficial "game" (NBA court, NBA rules and 3 NBA refs). But one team consists of only centers/power forwards and the other team consists of only point guards. For instance: Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett and Andrew Bynum vs. Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups. I believe the point guards would run circles around the big guys, especially in a 48-minute game. My friend thinks the guards wouldn't make every jump shot they took, but the bigs would make every dunk.

We both realize it's a ridiculous hypothesis, but in your opinion, who would win?
-- Gary

Since I happen to be 6-9, I'd vote for the big men.

For sure, the smalls are quicker and could run the bigs ragged unless certain adjustments were made. For example, the big guys would play a zone defense to keep the smalls away from the basket, slow the game down, and force them to shoot jumpers. The bigs would grab virtually every rebound and, instead of advancing the ball into the attack zone by dribbling, they would simply make high passes from station to station until one of them was in position to dunk. In fact, any dribble would probably be swiped by the smalls.

Once the bigs passed the ball to someone in dunking position, two of their quickest players (Stoudemire and Bynum?) would immediately run downcourt to protect against the inevitable fast break.

The smalls' offensive strategy would be to launch 3-pointers at every opportunity in hopes that any misses will result in long rebounds that they could snatch. On defense, they'd have to swarm the ball, play the passing lanes and hope for the best.

The bigs by at least 20 points.

Why isn't Lamar Odom ever considered for Sixth Man of the Year? He just about averages a double-double, plus 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. -- T from Tucson

Just look at the last few winners of this award: Jason Terry, Manu Ginobili, Leandro Barbosa, Mike Miller (with Memphis), Ben Gordon and Antawn Jamison (with Dallas). With the exception of Barbosa, whenever these guys entered a game their respective teams ran plays to get them shots. Isos, weak-side screens, high screen/rolls, handoffs, whatever. In other words, they immediately became the focus of the offense.

Barbosa is a special case in that Mike D'Antoni's Suns always looked to run and gun -- and since "The Blur" was usually the fastest player on the court, he'd wind up taking lots of shots.

Odom, however, is never the Lakers' No. 1 option on offense. Since he'll usually be on the court with Kobe and/or Pau Gasol, at best he's the secondary scorer, but most often in any given game only has a couple of plays designed for him -- so his scoring opportunities are normally limited.

It's all about numbers, specifically points scored. The several other ways in which a sixth man can dramatically impact a game are either ignored or not comprehended by the writers and broadcasters who do the voting.

And that's why this award, like every other postseason award, is bogus.

I've noticed that NBA players rarely use the backboard on their jump shots and wonder why that is. – John, Oklahoma City

Shooting banked jumpers requires a more forceful release that is the antithesis of "normal" shots. Also, if the rim never moves, a bank-shooter always needs to target a different spot on the backboard depending upon where he is when he shoots. A flexible knowledge of angles and vectors is therefore essential.

Most rim-oriented jump-shooters, however, seek to utilize the same essential mechanics on every shot.

There are several advantages to bank-shooting: A soft touch is not necessary for success, which means that even subpar shooters can be successful. The slightly altered point of release can more easily avoid the outstretched shot-challenging hand of the defender. And Sam Jones deposited 10 championship rings in his own personal bank account with it.

Do Don Nelson and Mike D'Antoni really believe that their respective systems can win championships? Or are they really just nuts? -- Marc, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Nellie used to be a totally laissez-faire coach who basically gave his players free license to shoot at will. He's become increasingly grouchy, stubborn and manipulative as he ages. However, it's doubtful that he truly believes his shoot-first-and-never-ask-questions philosophy can win a ring. In fact, his best teams were in Milwaukee where the late John Killilea was an excellent defensive coach. It's quite evident that Nellie is just interested in cashing humongous checks and hoarding his power for as long as he can.

D'Antoni, on the other hand, is seriously delusional. He only understands that whichever team scores the most points always wins and his subsequent philosophy is that whichever teams takes the most shots will score the most points.

D'Antoni also believes that obtaining excellent offensive players is fundamental because defense can be taught and because the current rules favor offense. But guys who are paid to score are usually reluctant to jeopardize their minutes and their offensive numbers by playing aggressive defense -- and therefore picking up too many fouls. Besides, playing offense is more fun, is easier and is much more lucrative then playing defense.

D'Antoni simply has a backward view of the game, which is why his Phoenix teams always disappointed in the playoffs, where the intensive scouting and focused practice sessions always lead to a slow, grind-it-out pace.

If you have a question or comment for Charley Rosen, please email charleyrosen@gmail.com and he may respond in a future column.

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