The NBA has suffered major changes since the early and mid-2000s. The rules have changed and now the big men have a different approach to the game, way easier than it was 15 years ago. Recently, a couple of former big men joined Basketball News to watch the NBA Finals and discuss a couple of topics regarding how rules have changed, favoring the big man position in today’s league.
David West had an interesting opinion, talking about how the old rules affected some players’ careers and teams, including the Toronto Raptors that had Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh on their roster. West believes that team was ahead of his time; had they played five, six, or seven years later than its original conception, the Raptors would’ve been a problem for the rest of the league given Bargnani and Bosh’s talents in the paint.
“I thought about this the other day. When [Andrea] Bargnani and [Chris] Bosh were in Toronto, the reason why that sh** didn’t work is ’cause the NBA let us beat them up! We beat up Bargnani, they let us body Bosh. Like, Bosh and Bargnani right now, they would blow this NBA out of the water. They were damn near impossible to guard. I’m serious. The only reason Bargnani didn’t have a (successful) career was ’cause the referees let people like me beat him up!”
“In today’s game, he would be killin’ because he would be protected. Ryan [Hollins], you know, you remember — he would try that sweep at the three-point line; they wasn’t giving him that sh**, that rip-through. We could grab both arms.”
Question about Bargnani’s real chances to thrive in today’s NBA, West doubled down in his comments, explaining that at that time, there was way more contact than there is today, making Andrea’s life harder. He was a big man that could shoot three, something odd to see back in the day.
“He would’ve gotten fouled because, again, you can’t put your hands on people. So we literally were jamming him on the perimeter, [putting] forearms in his stomach. They weren’t calling that stuff. [The Raptors] were like five, six, seven years too early.”
We’ll never know how that would’ve worked but for West, those Raptors had something great in their hands. It just wasn’t the right time for them.