Is the era of the dominant big man over? This is a question often asked among fans and analysts in the NBA today. It seems centers are less dominant today in comparison to some past eras where a team needed a strong center in order to compete for a championship.
In a story featured on The Players Tribune, one of the greatest center of all-time, Hakeem Olajuwon expressed his opinion on the matter and said the big men will still be relevant, however, their role will change. The idea of small ball that is predominant in today's league is in a lot of ways connected with the diminished value big man has today. The game has evolved in such a way that there are no longer standard positions in basketball and players are capable enough and have the skillset to play several positions at the same time.
Hakeem was always known as a crafty center who often looked like a guard trapped in a centers body and he is one of the rare ones who think the game is moving in the right direction when it comes to the roles big men have on their teams.
"Small ball won’t eliminate big men, but it might eliminate our old ideas of positions. Everyone likes to compare eras, but it’s possible that today’s big men are more skilled as all-around players than ever before. Look at guys like Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge in this year’s playoffs. I’m in awe of how they play like guards and centers at the same time. I would love today’s NBA. It’s like when I was a freshman in college and didn’t know what a center should act like — so I pretended I was a guard. I didn’t want to have a position at all."