What is a good position in basketball

Basketball positions - simply explained

In basketball, teams play against each other, each with five active players on the field. Which basketball positions there are in the NBA, BBL and Co., what they are called and how they differ - we explain in the following guide.

The best players in the 2016 NBA Finals:

NBA League Pass: Try and Try for Free

In basketball, five-on-five is officially played. At first glance you may only see five giants running across the square, but each player has a certain position and role in attack and defense. In the following we will tell you what positions there are in basketball. By the way, if you want to watch the professionals from the NBA play, you can do so with the NBA League Pass.

Basketball positions - an overview

Not all basketball players need to be over 2 meters tall and have long arms. But what body size and circumstances you have, definitely decides in which position you play in the end. Unlike in football, for example, there are no clearly defined defensive or attacking players in basketball. Everyone on the floor should be gifted at both ends and be able to cover their husbands. The following five positions can be distinguished from one another:

Point guard

Point guards are the so-called development players and the extended arm of the trainer. They make sure that the game goes, announce moves and should have a high understanding of what is happening on the pitch. The point guard position is one of the most demanding and currently the most competitive positions in basketball. Often times, the point guard is the smallest player on the field and has the best passing and dribbling skills. There were and are exceptions: Magic Johnson, for example, was one of the tallest but best players in this position at 2.06 meters.

Well-known point guards:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Jason Kidd
  • John Stockton

Shooting Guard

This position is best known through Michael Jordan. As the name suggests, Shooting Guards are primarily characterized by a good throw. Where the point guard focuses on passing, the shooting guard focuses on free running and safe distance protection. Together with the point guard, he is usually the fastest player on the field and can also move to the basket and lock it there with a lay-up or dunk.

Well-known shooting guards:

  • Michael Jordan
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Clyde Drexler

Buy NBA 2K16 from Amazon

Small forward

Small forwards are also known as wingers and originally those who had to throw high percentage from the middle distance and had a good pull to the basket. Small forward must be good dribbler and quick to walk, are usually larger than the guards but smaller than the power forwards and centers. Nowadays their role has also changed and instead of the middle distance, they have to be able to close off the triple line with a high percentage. Defensively, they are most important when it comes to defending the opponent's three-point throw. More and more players like LeBron James are taking on the game setup - but this depends above all on the skills of the respective player.

Known Small Forwards:

  • LeBron James
  • Kevin Durant
  • Scotte pippen

The external content cannot be displayed.

Power forward

Power forwards are a hybrid of center and small forward. Often the size of a center, but a little faster, the game of the power forward has changed the most in recent years. Up until the 1990s, Power Forwards were beefy guys like Karl Malone who attacked the basket near home and hard. Especially with the establishment of Dirk Nowitzki, the picture on the parquet began to change: the Stretch Four was born. This means moving the field further when the forward acts on the three-point line instead of near the basket and also pulls his defender out. Nowitzki was not the first to do that, but one of the first who knew how to use the three-point successfully and thus significantly changed the action on the pitch.

Known Power Forwards:

  • Kevin Garnett
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Karl Malone


The centers are still the greatest players on the field today, but have increasingly lost their dominance, especially after Shaquille O'Neal's retirement. The so-called “sevenfooters”, i.e. players who are at least 2.13 meters tall, are still considered the ideal image of a center. Shaq was not only that (2.16 meters), but also an absolute elemental force at over 130 kilos when playing directly under the basket. In defense, the center is the player who defends the basket and, if possible, blocks opposing players when attempting a lay-up or a dunk. Especially in the early years of the NBA, centers like Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain were the players around which teams were built and were the most important people on the field, both offensively and defensively.

Known centers:

  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Bill Russell
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

How rigid are the basketball positions?

The positions can be subdivided into the categories of back court and front court. Point and shooting guards form the back court. This is derived from the position of the players in the half-field - they are usually the furthest from the basket. Forwards and center are part of the froncourt because they play near the hoop. In the meantime, however, there are both guards who finish more and more often near the ring (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook) and forwards or centers who throw threes and can be dangerous from further outside (Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki). This also affects the type of defense. In the past, you only had to block paths under the basket, nowadays defenders have to be more nimble and defend up to a line of three.

It is also said that the game is becoming more and more positional. Players like Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors offer a combination of speed, toughness and passing strength that allow them to play in almost all positions and defend their opponents. Teams that want to play fast also benefit from having smaller center players who can run up and down the pitch faster. While centers were still the most dominant position on the field 10-20 years ago, nowadays it is mainly the guards who put up a lot of points. If you want to learn more about basketball, we explain the NBA finals, the NBA Hall of Fame and show you the best NBA records.

Quiz: How well do you know Assassin's Creed? Put your knowledge to the test!

You don't want to miss any news about technology, games and pop culture? No current tests and guides? Then follow us on Facebook (GIGA Tech, GIGA Games) or Twitter (GIGA Tech, GIGA Games).