The Traditional NBA Center Nears Extinction

kwame manuCorrespondent IJune 25, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot over Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic in the second quarter of Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The NBA is changing. Whether the changes are for better or for worse is up in the air. One of the things I notice most about the changing NBA are the positions on the court. This couldn't be more evident than during 2009's NBA Finals.

There was a PF that could shoot three pointers in Rashard Lewis, a SF that can play PG in Hedo Turkoglu, and a SG that likes to play with his back to the basket in Kobe Bryant. Don't even get me started on Lamar Odom's array of skills.

A decade or two ago, this was almost unimaginable. Back then, point guards played at the top of the key, shooting guards played on the wing, and centers and power forwards in the paint. 

So as I watch the NBA, I can't help but notice that two players on the court are becoming a dying breed: Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. They are back-to-the basket, dunking, shot blocking, "traditional" centers. 

They are some of the few left. 

Look at the best big men in the NBA: Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, etc. Besides Shaq and Dwight, the best big men in the game often play facing the basket and shooting jumpers. 

A lot of this may come from the influx of foreign players that come to the NBA with a very wide skill set.

A lot of it may also come from all the rule changes that make the game easier for slashers and jump shooters. 

Let me make it clear, though, that I do not think this is a bad thing. I actually like the rise of these "hybrid" players. I just want to bring this to the table in order to garner discussion as to whether or not the "true" NBA center will die out.

I mean look at this year's draft many centers are there? Think about it.