The NBA has changed because of rules and skillsets. There's a chicken and the egg thing going on there -- would Steph Curry shoot as well as he does if the 3-point line was never implemented etc. -- but, the game is undeniably spaced out. Even the plodding bigs who dominate the game today, dominate differently than the plodding bigs of old. The space afforded to teams has made maintaining advantages more important than ever; playing in a way to beat team-defense as whole, and progressing through correct reads collectively to shift the 5 players opposing you.
So, rather than seeing skill manifest when players are stapled to the block, teasing as much as they can out of pivots and step-throughs; we're seeing big men like Jaren Jackson Jr., Precious Achiuwa, and Scottie Barnes carve through in space in their own inventive ways. The Raptors vs. Grizzlies matchup was a feast for the eyes for anyone who enjoys seeing big bodies do things that are typically expected of, well, small bodies.
Achiuwa -- whose most famous offensive possessions most commonly involve a healthy mix of meandering and a healthier mix of devastating athleticism and coordination -- caught a bail-out pass from his chaotic frontcourt partner Chris Boucher, and began his unique process: He proceeded to probe into a double-team, escape it, then sized up Jackson Jr. who had followed him out past the 3-point line. One crossover, two between the leg dribbles -- all of which moved 'JJJ' backwards in anticipation of Achiuwa's explosion -- and then Achiuwa hit a pound dribble with his left hand, gathered it, and his brutal jump-stop in the lane moved Jackson Jr. from outside the paint to under the basket, before lightly hitting a push shot. Creative, explosive, and brutal. The exact formula that benefits Achiuwa the most. When the shot dropped? You can see Boucher on the opposing baseline unleash a massive fist pump.
You'd have to imagine he was thinking something to the effect of: "my guy just beat the DPOY in space."
4 thoughts on “When Big Men Move Differently”
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