The NBA, perhaps more than any other professional sports league, has undergone several massive shifts since its first inception. A lot of that has to do with the rules and regulations, but player roles have changed as well. Most notably, the role of guards.
There are many modern stars who show just how much things have shifted for points over the last few decades, but LaMelo Ball is one of the best examples and he plays both point and shooting guards.
This article will go over what position he plays, as well as how his role reflects on the league in its entirety.
Bigger Than Most
LaMelo stands 6’7, has a 6’9 wingspan, and weighs a lean 181 pounds. At those dimensions, it seems he would be best suited as a spot-up shooting wing or a fast three. However, that’s not the case. Rather, he spends most of his time running the point.
Though there are some exceptions, such as 6’9 Magic Johnson, most guards are much shorter than where Ball clocks in. That’s because they need to be shifty, quick, and rely on a combination of speed and agility to run the offense effectively.
Ball embodies both of those aspects and manages to do so while still being quite large. That’s a perfect combination because it means he can get into the lane, pull up quickly, and speed past his opponents without sacrificing any size on defense or rebounding.
A few years ago that combination of traits would have made LaMelo a truly unique player. While it’s still undoubtedly good, it’s not as rare as it once was.
In the past, tall guards were something that nobody had seen. The few that popped up absolutely dominated the game because they were able to go above and beyond what was considered possible at the time. Now, it’s not so simple.
Though the over reliance on the three pointer has caused forwards and centers to get a bit shorter and leaner in order to adapt to spread offenses, guards have gone the opposite direction. As Ball shows, they have actually gotten taller.
Currently, the average NBA player stands 6’6. That’s slightly shorter than in the past. However, when looking at average point guard height that number sits at 6’3. At only three inches below the average across the entire league, that gap isn’t as big as it used to be.
Even a few decades ago in the 90’s point guards stood just under 6’2. A one-inch difference might not seem like a huge deal, but it goes a long way in such a tight and competitive league. It also shows that the taller guards are getting steadily taller and taller.
A Different Direction
Taking the above information into account, it’s clear that LaMelo has a leg up on the competition. His height gives him an extra amount of versatility too because it enables him to switch into the shooting guard role when needed.
Though his basketball IQ typically puts him at the front of the offense, being able to move between positions is important because it makes his team as a whole much better. He’s got a great shot, and has plenty of length to defend bigger players should the situation require.
That means the Hornets are able to put up different offensive sets when needed. It makes the offense much smoother too because LaMelo doesn’t get lost if he suddenly finds himself out on the wing or running the baseline.
Guards have always been on the smaller side. Now, things have changed. As LaMelo shows, there are plenty of tall players who have the ability and IQ to run the point. He’s definitely a unique player with a lot of talent. His type just isn’t as rare as it once was.