Basketball positions

The five basketball positions normally employed by organized basketball teams are the point guard (PG), the shooting guard (SG), the small forward (SF), the power forward (PF), and the center (C).

Typically the point guard is the leader of the team on the court. This position requires substantial ball handling skills and the ability to facilitate the team during a play. The shooting guard, as the name implies, is often the best shooter. As well as being capable of shooting accurately from longer distances, this position tends to also be the best defender on the team. The small forward often has an aggressive approach to the basket when handling the ball. The small forward is also known to make cuts to the basket in efforts to get open for shots. The power forward and the center are usually called the "frontcourt", often acting as their team's primary rebounders or shot blockers, or receiving passes to take inside shots. The center is typically the larger of the two.

Historically, only three positions were recognized (two guards, two forwards, and one center) based on where they played on the court: Guards generally played outside and away from the hoop and forwards played outside and near the baseline, with the center usually positioned in the key. During the 1980s, team strategy evolved after the three-point shot was added to the game. More specialized roles developed, resulting in the five position designations used today. However, individual team strategy and availability of personnel can alter the positions used by a particular team. For example, the dribble-drive motion offense and the Princeton offense use four interchangeable guards and one center. This set is also known as a "four-in and one-out" play scheme. Other combinations are also prevalent.

Besides the five basic positions, some teams use non-standard or hybrid positions, such as the point forward, a hybrid small forward/point guard; the swingman, a hybrid small forward/shooting guard; the big, a hybrid power forward/center; and the stretch four, a power forward with the shooting range of typical shooting guards.

Basketball Positions
Basketball positions

Point guard

The point guard (PG), [1] also known as the one, is typically the team's best ball handler and passer. Therefore, they often lead their team in assists and are able to create shots for themselves and their teammates. They are often quick and are able to hit shots either outside the three-point line or "in the paint", largely depending on the player's skill level. Point guards are looked upon as the "floor general" or the "coach on the floor". They should study the game and game film to be able to recognize the weaknesses of the defense, and the strengths of their own offense. They are responsible for directing plays, making the position equivalent to that of quarterback in American football, playmaker in association football (soccer), center in ice hockey, or setter in volleyball. Good point guards increase team efficiency and generally have a high number of assists. They are often referred to as dribblers or play-makers. In the NBA, point guards are usually the shortest players on the team and are mostly 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) or shorter.

Shooting guard

The shooting guard (SG) is also known as the two or the off guard. Along with the small forward, a shooting guard is often referred to as a wing because of its use in common positioning tactics. As the name suggests, most shooting guards are prolific from the three-point range. Besides being able to shoot the ball, shooting guards tend to be the best defender on the team, as well as being able to move without the ball to create open looks for themselves. Some shooting guards also have good ball handling skills, often creating their own shots off the dribble. A versatile shooting guard will have good passing skills, allowing them to assume point guard responsibilities known as combo guards. Bigger shooting guards also tend to play as small forwards. In the NBA, shooting guards usually range from 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) to 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m).

Small forward

The small forward (SF), also known as the three, is considered to be the most versatile of the main five basketball positions. Versatility is key for small forwards because of the nature of their role, which resembles that of a shooting guard more often than that of a power forward. This is why the small forward and shooting guard positions are often interchangeable and referred to as wings.

Small forwards have a variety of assets, such as quickness and strength inside. One common thread among all kinds of small forwards is an ability to "get to the line" and draw fouls by aggressively attempting (post-up) plays, lay-ups, or slam dunks. As such, accurate foul shooting is a common skill for small forwards, many of whom record a large portion of their points from the foul line. Besides being able to drive to the basket, they are also good shooters from long range. Some small forwards have good passing skills, allowing them to assume point guard responsibilities as point forwards. Small forwards should be able to do a little bit of everything on the court, typically playing roles such as swingmen and defensive specialists. In the NBA, small forwards usually range from 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) to 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m).[2]

Power forward

The power forward (PF), also known as the four, often plays a role similar to that of the center, down in the "post" or "low blocks". The power forward is often the team's most versatile scorer, being able to score close to the basket while also being able to shoot mid-range jump shots from 12 to 18 feet from the basket. Some power forwards have become known as stretch fours, since extending their shooting range to three-pointers. On defense, they are required to have the strength to guard bigger players close to the basket and to have the athleticism to guard quick players away from the basket. Most power forwards tend to be more versatile than centers since they can be part of plays and are not always in the low block. In the NBA, power forwards usually range from 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) to 7 feet 0 inches (2.13 m).[3]


The center (C), also known as the five, usually plays near the baseline or close to the basket (the "low post"). They are usually the tallest players on the floor. The center usually scores "down low," or "in the paint" (near the basket, in the key), but some can be good perimeter shooters. They are typically skilled at gathering rebounds, contesting shots and setting screens on plays.

The center position has been traditionally considered one of the most important positions, if not the most important. The range of players used in the position has transitioned from relatively slower but much taller 'back to the basket" players to players who would normally be classified as power forwards but can dominate the position with their defensive skills, or mismatch ability to shoot from the high post. This has been due to the scarcity of players possessing the combination of great skill, ideal height, and durability. This has been matched by the development of more fast-paced and athletic basketball play, which calls for less traditional center play and a more up-and-down the court playstyle. Centers are usually the tallest on the court. In the NBA, centers are usually 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) or taller.

See also


  1. ^ ^ a b Rose, Lee H. (2016). The Basketball Handbook. Point guards pass the ball on offense and then head down the floor to set up and start the play. On defense, they guard the other point guard or one of the wings. Once they receive the ball they sprint towards the basket if it is open. If not open they stand back and wait till all of their team's players are down the floor and pass the ball. If open for a shot they will shoot to score 2 or 3 points depending on where they standing. Human Kinetics.
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links

Basketball playbook

A basketball playbook, like any sports playbook, involves compilation of strategies the team would like to use during games. The playbook starts as a canvas picture of the basketball court with all its boundaries and lines. On top of that, the playmaker can draw O's for players on offense, and X's for players on defense. Specifically however, the playmaker will need to number them for different positions. They are:

The following are a list of playbook plays commonly used in basketball throughout the world.

Best WNBA Player ESPY Award

The Best WNBA Player ESPY Award is an award given at the ESPY Awards show. It has been presented annually since 1998 to the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) player who has been voted the best in the preceding year before the ceremony. Beginning in 2003, the winner has been chosen by online voting, before that, determination of the winners was made by an panel of experts.The inaugural winner was Cynthia Cooper, who would go on to win three consecutive awards. Three awards is the record, a mark also held by Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi, and Candace Parker. Only Cooper and Taurasi had their three wins in consecutive years. All winners other than Jackson, who is Australian, have been American. Winners have played all five of the standard Basketball positions, the most honored position is power forward, players playing power forward have won six awards.

Center (basketball)

The center (C), also known as the five, or the big man, is one of the five positions in a regular basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. In the NBA, the center is usually 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) or taller and usually weighs 240 pounds (110 kg) or more. They traditionally have played close to the basket in the low post. A center with the ability to shoot outside from three-point range is known as stretch five.Playing in close proximity to the basket, which led to their ability to protect the own basket while scoring with high efficiency on the other end, the center position used to be the most important to fill for any NBA team, with George Mikan and Bill Russell being centerpieces of championship dynasties in the 1950s and 1960s. In recent decades, however, the importance of the center position has been diminished as the NBA basketball gradually became more perimeter-oriented, beginning with the addition of a three-point arc for the 1979–80 season up to the relaxation of the traveling rule in 2009–10, ushering in the prevalence of Euro-stepping, long-distance shooting wing players like James Harden and Stephen Curry.

Combo guard

A combo guard is a basketball player who combines the attributes of a point guard (1) and shooting guard (2), but does not necessarily fit the standard description of either position. Such guards are usually within the 6' 2" (1.88 m) and 6' 4" (1.93 m) height range. Most combo guards tend to be between point and shooting guards in terms of height, although some possess the height of a point or shooting guard specifically which affects how each plays.

Combo guards became prominent in the 1990s, when players such as Allen Iverson and Penny Hardaway were switched between playing point guard and shooting guard, depending on offensive and defensive situations. Combo guards use their ball-handling skills to bring the ball up the court and set up teammates, while also having the ability to shoot well.

The best combo guards use their "in-between" height and athleticism to their own advantage: smaller point guards will use speed and agility to run past bigger players, while bigger shooting guards will shoot over the top of smaller players with their jump shots.

Historically, combo guards have been viewed as difficult for coaches to fit into an offensive system; however, combo guards have more recently become an important part of basketball, especially in the NBA. Dwyane Wade, a shooting guard with point-guard-like ball handling, led the Miami Heat to their first-ever NBA Championship in 2006, and won the Finals MVP award for the same championship series. In addition, the shift in the sport from a fundamental-driven style of play to a more scoring-oriented one means that the inferior passing ability of such guards is not viewed as a serious detriment. This shift is in part explained by hand-checking rules instituted by the NBA in 2007, which makes it a foul for a defender to use his hands to impede an offensive player. This allowed many smaller, weaker combo guards to use their speed to drive around stronger, taller players. In fact, many shorter young players (6' 2" or shorter) focus on developing their scoring abilities, whereas previously they would have to be proper point guards with the innate ability to pass to succeed in the professional leagues. For example on that end, Allen Iverson is 6' 0" (1.83 m) tall, but given his shoot-first mentality, despite his exceptional ball-handling skills, he started playing as a shooting guard. He was rated as the fifth-greatest shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008. Other examples of combo guards are Jerry West, Jason Terry, Monta Ellis, Goran Dragic, Lou Williams, Juan Carlos Navarro, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Victor Oladipo, Zach LaVine, Joe Dumars, and Jeff Hornacek.

This is in contrast to "true" (or "pure") point guards such as Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Kevin Johnson and Ricky Rubio. These players exhibit a pass-first mentality, value assists and steals over points, and embrace the responsibility of playmaker rather than finisher. They conform to the perception that a point guard's duties are to direct the offense, distribute the ball, create scoring opportunities for others, and attempt the shot only if there are no open teammates to be found.

Some players, for example James Harden, Devin Booker, Manu Ginóbili, Tyreke Evans, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Clarkson, Jamal Crawford, Greivis Vasquez, Lonzo Ball, and Rodney Stuckey, have the requisite size for a shooting guard (6' 5" or taller), but due to their above-average ball-handling and playmaking ability, are used as combo guards or even as swingmen.

In the Euroleague, the most notable examples are Vassilis Spanoulis, who has led his team to 3 Euroleague championships, and Sergio Llull, who has led Real Madrid to win Euroleague last season (2015) and nearly joined Houston Rockets that year before signing renewal with his lifelong team. Other examples include American-born Macedonian player, Lester "Bo" McCalebb.


Forward–center or bigman is a basketball position for players who play or have played both forward and center on a consistent basis. Typically, this means power forward and center, since these are usually the two biggest player positions on any basketball team, and therefore more often overlap each other.

Forward–center came into the basketball jargon as the game evolved and became more specialized in the 1960s. The five positions on court were originally known only as guards, forwards, and the center, but it is now generally accepted that the five primary positions are point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.

Typically, a forward–center is a talented forward who also came to play minutes at center on teams that need help at that position. The player could also be a somewhat floor-bound center, under seven feet tall at the NBA level, whose skills suit him to a power forward position, especially if that team has a better center. One such player is Marcus Camby of the New York Knicks. At 6′ 11″ (211 cm), he generally plays as a center, but when he played for the New York Knicks earlier in his career, he mostly played power forward because his team had one of the best pure centers in the league in 7′ 0″ (213 cm) Patrick Ewing. Ewing himself was used as a forward–center early in his career to complement the then-incumbent Knicks center, 7′ 1″ (216 cm) Bill Cartwright. Ralph Sampson, at 7′ 4″ (224 cm), was another notable forward–center who played center his rookie year in 1983. In 1984, he moved to power forward when 7′ 0″ (213 cm) Hakeem Olajuwon was drafted that year. Most forward-centers range from 6′ 9″ (2.06 m) to 7′ 0″ (2.13 m) in height.

Other notable forward-centers include: Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, Al Horford, and Draymond Green.

Nancy Lieberman Award

The Nancy Lieberman Award, named for Basketball Hall of Fame legend Nancy Lieberman, was given annually by the Rotary Club of Detroit in the Award's first 14 years to the nation's top collegiate point guard in women's Division I basketball. Sue Bird won the inaugural award in 2000—her first of an unmatched three Lieberman Awards. No freshman (first-year player) has ever won the award, and only two players have won as sophomores (second-year players)—Bird in 2000 and Sabrina Ionescu in 2018.

The award is given to a player who exemplifies "the floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills that personified Nancy Lieberman during her career". Originally, voting was performed exclusively by sportswriters. The announcement of the winner has coincided with the Final Four weekend, with an award ceremony the following Wednesday which was hosted by the Detroit Rotary Club at the Detroit Athletic Club through 2013. Beginning with the 2014 award to Odyssey Sims of Baylor University, the Nancy Lieberman Award has been presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Final Four proceedings, and is now presented at the annual convention of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

The 2017–18 season started a new era for the award. Since that season, the WBCA has partnered with the Naismith Hall in the presentation of the award. The two bodies also incorporated the Lieberman Award into a new set of awards known as the "Naismith Starting 5", presented at the WBCA convention to players at each of the five traditional basketball positions. These awards parallel a previously existing set of men's basketball positional awards also presented by the Hall. The other four are:

Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award

Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award

Katrina McClain Power Forward Award

Lisa Leslie Center AwardThe voting body for the Lieberman Award also changed upon its incorporation into the Naismith Starting 5. Each of the Starting 5 awards is now determined by a selection committee consisting of Hall of Famers, WBCA coaching members, and media, and headed by the award's namesake. Fan voting through the Hall's website is also incorporated into the selection process.

Connecticut is the only program that has produced more than one Lieberman Award recipient, having had four players combine for a total of eight awards (Bird, Diana Taurasi, Renee Montgomery, and Moriah Jefferson). The only other programs with more than one award, Notre Dame and Oregon, each had a single player win two awards, respectively Skylar Diggins and Ionescu.

Philippine Basketball Association All-Rookie Team

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Rookie Team is an annual Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) honor given since the 2004–05 PBA season, to the top rookie(s) of the season in each of the five basketball positions: point guard, shooting guard (off-guard or big guard), small forward, power forward and center.Unlike the traditional player awards, which is given by the league, this citation is awarded by the PBA Press Corps.

Philippine Basketball Association Mythical Team

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Mythical Team is an honor given annually to the best players in each of the five basketball positions: point guard, shooting guard (off-guard or big guard), small forward, power forward and center. A Second Mythical Team was institutionalized in 1984.

Player tracking (National Basketball Association)

Player tracking is a new technology being used in the NBA to increase basketball statistical data collection and enhance advanced metrics. It began use in the NBA at the start of the 2013–14 season, and it is now in use in all 29 arenas, following trials during the previous season in 15 arenas. USA Today said that "for fans who want to understand the game on a deeper level, this is a huge development".

Point forward

Point forward is a nontraditional position in basketball, with a small forward - or sometimes a power forward or combo forward - adding the responsibilities of point guard to their play.

Point guard

The point guard (PG), also called the one or point, is one of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. A point guard has the most specialized role of any position. Point guards are expected to run the team's offense by controlling the basketball and making sure that it gets to the right player at the right time. Above all, the point guard must totally understand and accept their coach's game plan; in this way, the position can be compared to a quarterback in American football or a playmaker in association football (soccer). While the point guard must understand and accept the coach's gameplan, they must also be able to adapt to what the defense is allowing, and they also must control the pace of the game.They also have to be effective on all parts of the court no matter what.

A point guard, like other player positions in basketball, specializes in certain skills. A point guard's primary job is to facilitate scoring opportunities for his/her team, or sometimes for themselves. Lee Rose has described a point guard as a coach on the floor, who can handle and distribute the ball to teammates. This involves setting up plays on the court, getting the ball to the teammate in the best position to score, and controlling the tempo and pace of each play. A point guard should know when and how to instigate a fast break and when and how to initiate the more deliberate sets. Point guards are expected to be vocal floor leaders. A point guard needs always to have in mind the times on the shot clock and the game clock, the score, the numbers of remaining timeouts for both teams, etc.Just like a quarterback in American Football.

Among the taller players who have enjoyed success at the position is Ben Simmons, who at 6’ 10” won the 2018 National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year Award. Behind him is Magic Johnson, who at 6’ 9” (2.06 m) won the National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Award three times in his career. Other point guards who have been named NBA MVP include Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Allen Iverson, Derrick Rose, two-time winners Steve Nash and Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook. In the NBA, point guards are usually about 6' 4" (1.93 m) or shorter, and average about 6' 2" (1.88 m) whereas in the WNBA, point guards are usually 5' 9" (1.75 m) or shorter. Having above-average size (height, muscle) is considered advantageous, although size is secondary to situational awareness, speed, quickness, and ball handling skills. Shorter players tend to be better dribblers since they are closer to the floor, and thus have better control of the ball while dribbling.

After an opponent scores, it is typically the point guard who brings the ball down court to begin an offensive play. Passing skills, ball handling, and court vision are crucial and very important for a point guard to have. Speed is important; a speedy point guard is better able to create separation and space off the dribble, giving him/herself room to work. Point guards are often valued more for their assist totals than for their scoring. Another major evaluation factor is assist-to-turnover ratio, which reflects the decision-making skills of the player. Still, a first-rate point guard should also have a reasonably effective jump shot.They should also have effective ball handling skills,Great court vision,speed,and focus.

Power forward (basketball)

The power forward (PF), also known as the four, is one of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. It has also been referred to as the "post" position. Power forwards play a role similar to that of center. They typically play offensively with their backs towards the basket and position themselves defensively under the basket in a zone defense or against the opposing power forward in man-to-man defense. The power forward position entails a variety of responsibilities, one of which is rebounding. Many power forwards are noted for their mid-range jump-shot, and several players have become very accurate from 12 to 18 feet (3.7 to 5.5 m). Earlier, these skills were more typically exhibited in the European style of play. Some power forwards, known as stretch fours, have since extended their shooting range to three-point field goals.

In the NBA, power forwards usually range from 6′ 8″ (2.03 m) to 7′ 0″ (2.13 m) while in the WNBA, power forwards are usually between 6′ 1″ (1.85 m) and 6′ 4″ (1.93 m). Despite the averages, a variety of players fit "tweener" roles which finds them in the small forward or center position depending on matchups and coaching decisions. Some power forwards often play the center position and have the skills, but lack the height that is usually associated with that position.

Shooting guard

The shooting guard (SG), also known as the two or off guard, is one of the five traditional positions in a regulation basketball game. A shooting guard's main objective is to score points for his team and steal the ball on defense. Some teams ask their shooting guards to bring up the ball as well; these players are known colloquially as combo guards. A player who can switch between playing shooting guard and small forward is known as a swingman. In the NBA, shooting guards usually range from 6' 3" (1.91 m) to 6' 7" (2.01 m) and 5' 9" (1.75 m) to 6' 0" (1.83 m) in the WNBA.

Slasher (basketball)

A slasher is a basketball player (typically a guard, but also possibly a forward) who primarily drives (slashes) to the basket when on offense. A slasher is a fast and athletic player who is looking to get close to the basket for a layup, dunk or teardrop shot (this style of high-percentage two-point play is commonly referred to as slashing).

Slashers usually take more free-throw shots than other players due to the increased amount of contact made on them as they constantly and aggressively run towards the basket (many gain extra free-throws by "drawing fouls", which is deliberately causing contact with a defending player), and they may spend many hours working on increasing their free-throw percentage.Many players who begin as slashers typically develop their game (especially their jump shot), as age and injuries occur, which may prevent them from being as effective as a slasher (for example, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant both developed a fadeaway jump shot as they got older).

Small forward

The small forward (SF), also known as the three, is one of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. Small forwards are typically shorter, quicker, and leaner than power forwards and centers, but typically taller and larger than either of the guard positions.

The small forward is considered to be perhaps the most versatile of the five main basketball positions. In the NBA, small forwards usually range from 6' 6" (1.98 m) to 6' 10" (2.08 m) while in the WNBA, small forwards are usually between 5' 11" (1.80 m) to 6' 2" (1.88 m).

Small forwards are responsible for scoring points, defending and often as secondary or tertiary rebounders behind the power forward and center, although a few have considerable passing responsibilities. Many small forwards in professional basketball are prolific scorers.The styles with which small forwards amass their points vary widely. Some players at the position are very accurate shooters, others prefer to initiate physical contact with opposing players, and still others are primarily slashers who also possess jump shots. In some cases, small forwards position on the baseline or as off-the-ball specialists. Small forwards who are defensive specialists are very versatile as they can often guard multiple positions using their size, speed, and strength.

Stretch four

In basketball, a stretch four (sometimes called combo forward or stretch big) is a player who plays in the power forward position. "Stretch" describes the effect such a player has on the opposition defense, and the power forward position is also known as the "four position"; hence "stretch four". The stretch four is a fairly recent innovation in the NBA (with an "explosion" of players coming through since the 1999–2000 season), but is still becoming increasingly common in today's game, as many NBA coaches now use the "small-ball" line-up/tactical play.


A swingman is an athlete capable of playing multiple positions in their sport.

Tweener (basketball)

A tweener in basketball is a term, sometimes used derisively, for a player who is able to play two positions, but is not ideally suited to play either position exclusively, so he/she is said to be in between. A tweener has a set of skills that do not match the traditional position of his physical stature.'s definition of "tweener" is as follows:

"This word is derived from the word 'between', as in a player is between the height of a guard and a forward. 'Tweeners' often have the skills of a big man, but the height of a guard. Though only six foot six, Charles Barkley, a tweener, was one of the NBA's greatest rebounding power forwards."A player who is ideally suited to play two positions is sometimes referred to as a swingman, although that term is more commonly reserved specifically for those who are suited to play small forward and shooting guard.

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Basketball positions

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