Boston Celtics big man luminary Dave Cowens made a rare appearance on CLNS Media’s “Bob Ryan and Jeff Goodman Podcast” in 2020, and shared some observations on the evolution of the big man in the NBA since his era in ways which might surprise modern readers.
The tendency in any sport is to see it as if it was always the way it was when you first encountered it. Basketball (like most sports) has continuously evolved however, and the role of the big man has in due course evolved with it. The tendency of bigs in the relatively recent past has been as bruising post operators who tend to use their sheer size to bully their way to a high-percentage shot.
As analytics pushed the game away from that template towards dynamic bigs able to use skill and athleticism to overcome size and muscle, in many ways the game has shifted back towards the type of basketball that made Cowens — just 6-foot-9 — a lethal center despite his size.
The St. Louis native’s coach and wingman had nothing but praise for Tatum. https://t.co/ZtpdgAclV1
— The Celtics Wire (@TheCelticsWire) May 2, 2021