The Post Play Is Dead

Usually in life, with time, things change, whether if it’s in football, volleyball, medicine or life in general, and so is in basketball, too. For sure, if they change, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will go in a much better direction, but we notice it, whether it’s good or bad, it’s there and it’s happening. We live in an era where every team emulated their playstyle after the Warriors’ one, a game plan where everybody is jacking up 3’s, even the centers, who were supposed to be back in the post once in a time. They don’t even need the pick-and-pop to shoot the three-ball, as they even shoot off-the-dribble sometimes, or by catch-and-shoot, without setting a screen. If you said in the mid ‘90s or early 2000s that there will be centers in the future that will have 3, 4 attempts in a game, the people around the league would’ve definitely laugh out loud about that, especially Shaquille O’Neal, who is 1 for 22 from 3-point land in his career.


                                                                                                                                                                    ©Kirk Goldsberry

Going back to times when the mid-range was an important aspect of the game, with players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan or Shaq being masters of the post-up play, the game felt more complete, in a way that you could see a team score in a multiple type of ways, not just only by shooting threes, lay-ups or a bunch of free-throws. I mentioned those above just as an example, because every Power Forward or Center was playing with the back-to-the-basket numerous times in a game. As Kobe Bryant said in an interview, he usually went to the post-up more when he was guarded by a tough opponent, such as Tony Allen, because he felt more comfortable in maneuvering the ball by kind of “hiding” it. In the new-school basketball, let’s call it like that, there are very few players that are willing to do that, and I don’t even think that they practice that throughout summer workouts in order to try and master it. In this graphic, you can clearly see how much the shot selection has changed.



We can see that is a huge change, and not all of the people directly involved in the game of basketball are quite ok with that, as George Karl said in the past “The game is getting out of balance. But until we figure out a way to make the post-up more efficient, we’re not going back. You just can’t win throwing the ball into the post 60 times per game.” Jason Kidd also stated in an interview that “We are losing a part of our sport”. And if you thought that Gregg Popovich is totally fine with this new style of play… well, you’re obviously wrong, as he said that “The inside game is kaputski. You’ve got to have downhill players, you’ve got to have people that can penetrate and kick, you’ve got to have people who can switch, you’ve got to have big guys who can play little guys.” As a fan of the fundamentals of the game, it is not quite hard to understand what Popovich is trying to imply by saying that.

Because every action has a reaction, according to all these things being said, the numbers of post-up plays decreased drastically, season after season, and here we can see exactly the impact throughout the years.





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