Analysis: How Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are defying the NBA norm

The Utah Jazz are starting two bigs, which is basically like opening Jurassic Park in modern times; it doesn’t end well. The NBA has gone away from the traditional big-man game of posting up and forcing a way to the basket.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe calls the modern power forward a play-making four. They can do a little of everything. Golden State’s Draymond Green is the poster child for the new power forward position. They are expected to bring the ball up the court, initiate the offense, be a threat from long range and defend multiple positions. If they can’t do all this, then just being able to spread the floor is important as stretch four. This is very different from the Karl Malone/Tim Duncan kind of power forward.

NBA offenses revolve around the pick-and-roll, and to make this most effective is to have shooters spreading the floor and a big man rolling to the rim. This makes the defense choose who to leave open: the ball-handler, big man rolling or shooters at the 3-point line.

If one of the shooters isn’t good at making long-range shots, defenses have no problem with letting him shoot. An example of this is during the playoffs a couple of years ago when Golden State essentially didn’t guard Memphis’ Tony Allen. This changed the series. Trying to run an offense one man short is extremely difficult.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton described this as basketball gravity: “Every offensive player has gravity — but not all players have the same gravity. Beyond them, the ball has gravity, because of the need to pressure the ball-handler and keep him from getting a wide-open shot. And the basket itself has gravity, since the highest-percentage shots tend to be taken from close range.”

Rudy Gobert is such a threat at the rim, he creates open shots …read more

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