Feeding into this is the growing scarcity of “true” centers. A quick look around the league reveals how few of them there are. Many teams now use a more traditional power forward in place of a center.
Nowhere is that more evident than in San Antonio, where Tim Duncan is now considered one of the greatest power forwards of all time, yet is really a center.
It has been widely discussed that the league has been becoming quicker, smaller, and more athletic. Teams seem to focus more on running and playing in the open court than on half-court sets and strong defense.
Two All-Star selections in particular are indicative of this growing trend. The first comes from the Western Conference. Who would have dreamed of a day when the best post player in the league isn’t even an All-Star? That day has come.
The Timberwolves’ Al Jefferson is clearly the most dangerous player on the block and, in the post, the entire league.
His omission from the All-Star team clearly reflects the general thinking of the league right now. It is a clear statement: post play is not as important as overall athleticism and running the court.
The second example comes from the Eastern Conference. Coaches talk all the time about the importance of defense, yet the best defensive point guard in the game will be sitting at home for the All-Star break.
The Celtics’ Rajon Rondo is the best defender at his position in the entire league and is also one of the best at running an offense and controlling tempo. Once upon a time, these two distinctions would have made him an elite player. This year, three point guards in the Eastern Conference alone were picked ahead of him.
The point of all this is that the league has clearly changed a lot in the last 10 years. The omissions of Jefferson and Rondo are proof positive.