There have been plenty of tall playmakers since Magic Johnson broke NBA’s orthodox approach toward players’ positioning according to their height.
One of the best developments in the game of basketball has been its relaxation on the height-bound positioning of players. When Earvin “Magic” Johnson came up as a 6’9 playmaker in the 80s with the Lakers, NBA was still orthodox about the players of certain heights being responsible for specific jobs.
That is the main reason there wasn’t a big man who played as the primary ball-handler or distributor for a franchise, and there was rarely any point guard who was a consistent top scorer of his franchise before Johnson came along in the 80s.
Magic started what we today call “position-less basketball”, and it has not only given us big and tall ball-handlers & playmakers like himself, LeBron James, and Draymond Green but also high-scoring point guards like Allen Iverson, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and many more from the current generation of players.
Lebron during the 2020 season:
10.2 assists (assists leader)
An elite season from the greatest ever pic.twitter.com/EUQlWx1J3O
— hood (@Hoodio24) June 13, 2022
Even the 6’9 forward Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics started averaging more assists and upped his ball usage and play-making abilities as soon as Magic came into the league. But what’s mind-boggling is the Championship share won by these hybrid players over the years.
Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Draymond Green – tall playmakers’ dominance in the last 43 years.
Thanks to a Redditor, we came across a stat that out of the previous 43 championships, more than 50% of the time, the team that has a 6’7 player contributing to 6+ assists throughout his team’s campaign has lifted the Larry O’Brien.
It was the 22nd time in these 43 years when last week the Golden State Warriors won their 4th title in the last eight years having Green as their long-time floor general.
Warriors’ dominance in the last 8 years (6 Finals appearances) is just a small sample size of how well the players with a higher court vision can be better and have an easy-going approach to the game than an orthodox one.
The last two seasons’ MVP Nikola Jokic and the most probable future MVP Luka Doncic winning championships in years to come will also further make this theory concrete. With those two, Draymond, and Bron, teams in the West are ready with their tall distributors to go for a Championship in the upcoming season.
East has their own list with the Ball brothers (Lonzo 6’6 and LaMelo 6’7), KD (6’10) with the Nets having a career-high assist (6.4) last season, and Giannis (6’11) and Middleton (6’7) being the Bucks’ consistent playmakers led them to a championship in 2021. And we just saw Tatum (6’9) doing a more than a decent job as a distributor, leading the Celtics to the 2022 Finals.
This league might soon be shifting towards a new culture, with the 6’4 and under guards can be a team’s top scorer or defenders while taller players taking more of a play-making role. Their co-existence in a successful team will depend on each other like Curry and Draymond’s.