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ESPN’s Jay Bilas discusses value of big men in today’s NBA

(AP photos)

With the 2018 NBA Draft having a big-heavy portion at the top of the draft, some of the conversations have steered towards the use of big men in today’s NBA.

The Golden State Warriors, in particular, have won three NBA titles in four years, spending much of their time in the playoffs without a traditional center. As games go on, lineups have traditionally become smaller in crunch time.

The argument is less so if big men are relevant in the NBA, but more so if a center or power forward has the tools necessary to not be targeted on defense or be a liability on offense.

That’s where the discussion turns.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas, however, was quick to note while joining 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf that the traditional needs those big men fill are not going away.

“There’s more of a premium on big men that can shoot — or anyone that can shoot — but there’s also a premium on rim protection, and size, and length and the guys at the top of this draft have that,” he said.

Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr., Texas’ Mohamed Bamba and Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. are all projected to go in the top-10 of the draft.

Bilas noted the key distinction between the Warriors, saying their success is not indicative of big men being phased out of the game.

“When you look at the other NBA teams that are doing well, most of them have quality big men,” he said.

A quick look at the NBA standings backs up Bilas’ point. While there are teams like the Warriors and Celtics, teams like Houston and Philadelphia are able to be effective with Clint Capela and Joel Embiid.

Those two players, though, have traits that are important.

“The game’s changed,” Bilas said. “You’re going to see guys that are a little bit mobile who are not going to have a permanent post. Things are lifted up and spread out to open up driving lanes and you don’t want to always have that clogged up but if anyone thinks shot-blocking and rebounding are going away, they are not.”

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