Guys like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O'Neal helped define the NBA big man for generations. Classified by size, strength, and power, centers were the force teams used to control the interior and it made for some classic moments on the basketball court.
Today, the position has changed a lot from what it used to be. Amid the long-distance shooting revolution, the NBA has gotten a lot smaller, pushing the 'big man' role towards complete extinction. Of the more traditional bigs that remain, many have migrated to the perimeter in an effort to catch up to modern trends.
In a recent chat with the media, one of the NBA's most efficient three-point shooters (Pelicans big man Jonas Valanciunas) spoke about the adjustment he has had to make to ensure he stays an active member in the NBA for many years to come.
"One night it goes really well,” Valanciunas said, via NOLA.com. “One night it’s not going that great. I’m still adapting. It’s the first full year I’m really relying on the 3-point line. My game was always down low, and additionally, I space out and shoot the 3. Now, I’ve probably spent about 50% of my time on the 3-point line. I’m still picking my spots and trying to figure out my timing and spacing. But I hope I’m going to be really comfortable with that.”
”The big guy is evolving by being able to stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Valanciunas said. “Being able to handle the ball. Those things, I wanted to add to my game as well. I don’t want to disappear. I want to be successful in this league. Whatever it takes to be successful."
Valanciunas always played a more traditional style of basketball. In Toronto, he stayed under the rim to score and defend the paint for a competitive Raptors team.
This season, with the adaptation of the three-pointer, Valanciunas is having an impressive run with averages of 18.6 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game on 46% shooting from downtown.
The Pelicans are 13th in the West with a 7-18 record.