Building an NBA Franchise: Is Going Big Still the Way to Go?

Yama HazheerCorrespondent IIJuly 24, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 12:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets talks with Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers  at the New Orleans Arena on November 12, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Lakers defeated the Hornets 93-86.  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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Look at some of the greatest players to ever play in the National Basketball Association. Most of them are big men. They range from the power of Shaquille O'Neal, the finesse of Tim Duncan, and the physical play of Karl Malone.

In today's NBA, it seems less and less likely to build your team around a dominant big man.

You have players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul. None of them play power forward or center, but they are the franchise players for their respective teams.

When you look into it, there are not as many teams building around a big man or looking for one in the NBA Draft. The last great franchise big man drafted was Dwight Howard.

People like Greg Oden and Yao Ming were both drafted because the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets were looking for these centers to be the cornerstones of their team, unfortunately, both have had injury plagued careers thus far.

Kevin Durant was picked right after Oden in the 2007 NBA Draft. He is currently one of the better young players in the league. He plays shooting guard and small forward. So far, he has proven that the Blazers made the wrong pick.

The point guards are starting to rule the courts more and more.

There are terrific young studs in the league such as Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, and countless others.

You can't say the same about centers.

The only center currently in the NBA that can be a franchise player is Dwight Howard. End of story. You can't build your NBA franchise around any other center today, with the exception of Oden if he ever gets past those injuries.

Andrew Bynum is not a franchise player and Al Jefferson is naturally a power forward. There is really, not much sense in arguing that Bynum or Jefferson are centers you can build a championship team around.

Look at the 2008 NBA Draft. A center was not selected until the 10th pick. What about the 2009 NBA Draft, the most recent one.

There were only two centers picked in the first round, alone. Only two!

One of them was the second overall selection and people are calling him a bust before he has even stepped onto an NBA court.

The top pick for the 2010 NBA draft is slated to be a point guard named John Wall.

See for yourself, there are only two teams in the whole league building around a center. Only one of them seems to be on the right path as of now.

There are about six to eight teams building around a power forward, though.

Everyone else in the league is either building around a point guard, shooting guard, or a small forward.

The game that we all know, is now being overrun by the smaller men on the court.

Let's see how successful each top team in the league has been:

Franchise Players

Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard
Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony

Only two of the top six teams in the league are building around a big man.

Are power forwards and centers the right way to build your team around now?

Should you have a point guard that can pass the ball phenomenally, that makes his teammates better, a slashing wingman that can score 40 plus on any given night, or a big man that anchors the paint and can score with his back to the basket.

A lot of things have changed since the 90's in the NBA, and it looks like the trend of building around guards and small forwards is becoming one of them.

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