In the 21st century, Doctor Naismith's game of basketball has evolved into a global game with wide appeal. To draw the enthusiasm of people outside the United States of America and be more inclusive to the general population of average height below six feet, the NBA has amended the rulebook that favors the smaller players.
Defenses are now significantly handicapped to weed out hand-checking, pulling of the torso, touching the shooter when the shot is being made as well as illegal picks and screens. As a result, the slow-ball style of game which emphasizes grinding out the shot clock and pounding often in the restricted zone for higher percentage shots, are now being less fashionable.
However, a dwindling breed remains effective in dominating others with their slower pace and physical plays. Below, we take a look at the top five young slow-ball team players in the league right now.
1. Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell has always impressed fans with his hustle, bounce and ability to go through bigger defenders in the half-court game.
The Spida, nicknamed for possessing elite athleticism, acute basketball awareness and quick reflexes. Donovan has been instrumental in the Utah Jazz's premium defense and rock-solid game-closing ability in a slow-ball style of game.
While Rudy Gobert anchors the slow-ball defense, Donovan Mitchell anchors the offense. What a perfect duo in the era where the grind and pound game is slowly disappearing.
2. Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo is a classic model of the Miami Heat blue-collar, hard-nosed style of basketball. Bam Bam is reminiscent of a fusion of Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow and Jimmy Butler, all of whom are physical and hustling players.
Bam is capable of capitalizing on what the opposing defense can give him and often punishes them both inside and outside. Opponents are simply forced to pick their poison in the half-court slow-ball setting.
3. Domantas Sabonis
Nobody expected the son of legendary Lithuanian player, Arvydas Sabonis, to become the All-Star that he did. Domantas Sabonis has represented Indiana Pacers well in the absence of their star, Victor Oladipo.
The Pacers play a physical, slow-ball game for their go-to gameplan. Domantas has learned and become very efficient in running the system despite his average level of speed. The result is a respectable level of success by the Pacers even during a down year without their leader.
Domantas is deceptively versatile and on-point in his plays while moving at a regular pace of a classic post player.
4. Nikola Jokic
The Joker is a pride and joy from Serbia. The brilliant slumbering bear on the court, slow in movement but impactful in actions.
Nikola Jokic is known for starting a season rather overweight and gradually playing into shape as the season progresses. He is a perfect center to play the slow-ball because of his high basketball IQ which allows him to use his wit to outplay other centers with better athleticism.
The Joker possesses impressive passing skills and playmaking ability, allowing him to facilitate teammates' plays. He has grown to become the engine of the Denver Nuggets, sparking their defense as well as offense through his slow and steady moves.
5. Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is not exactly a fast-moving point guard. He is a huge guard, standing at six feet ten inches. His handles are efficient, simple and never too flashy. He is not quick but he is crafty and smart in picking his steps.
Ben outsmarts and outplays opponents through his fluid, creative and adaptable style of playmaking. Predominantly a driver and a dunker, Ben has no problems backing down his defender to the post area and grind his way slowly to a higher percentage lay-in or dunk.
With his growing acumen for the half-court game, the Sixers are able to tighten up their defense and run slow steady plays for a myriad of players effectively.
There you have it, your top five young slow-ball team players are here, looking prime and stellar to take over the league in the sphere of grind and pound slow-game.