Five Player Positions in Basketball Explained

Basketball is a game that differs slightly from other sports in terms of player positions and player roles. Of course, like other sports, basketball too has undergone a constant evolution, and players in different positions have learned to improvise on their required default skill set.
SportsAspire Staff
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2018
Diverse Group Of Co Ed Basketball Players In A Line
"My greatest gift that I have in life is basketball."
― Isiah Thomas, 1981 - 1994 (Detroit Pistons)
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Basketball was invented by a Massachusetts physical education professor, James Naismith, to keep his students fit and active during cold and harsh New England winters. Back in the day, peach baskets were used instead of hoops, and there were no backboards. The peach baskets were nailed to the wall of the court.
With time, the game, its rules, playing style, equipment and even player positions have evolved. The player roles have become more defined and are now divided into three categories: Guards, Forwards, and Center. The guards are positioned in the back of the court, while the forwards occupy the front court. Conceptually, back court and forward court positions are known as the defensive and offensive, respectively.

1 - Point Guard 
2 -
Shooting Guard 
3 -
Small Forward 
4 -
Power Forward 
5 -
Center
basketball positions
1 - Point Guard
Basketball Players
➜ Position Summary:
Point guard, commonly called PG or the one, is often called the playmaker in a basketball game. He has the most distinguished role on a basketball court. He is usually the smallest player in a team, but must have highly accurate passing skills. He is the closest to the coach, and hence, must have a good relationship with the coach, since he works like a messenger from the coach to the team.
➜ Role:
A point guard can slip into various roles depending upon the composition and overall skill of his team. He can assist the scorers, or he can be a scorer himself. As an assist, the point guard's most crucial function is to pass the bowl to a high post teammate who is good at scoring. Speed is an important requirement. A quick-on-the-feet point guard can nibble through a dribble, giving himself enough room to work around. He needs an aptitude to control the pace of the game. When to attack and when to defend is in his hands, and the game is more or less always decided/controlled by him. Traditionally, higher the number of assists, the better is a point guard player considered, but of late, a number of players have developed close-to-the-hoop shooting skills to take their opponents by surprise.
➜ Best Point Guards:
Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, Gary Payton, Bob Lousy, Steve Nash, and John Stockton
2 - Shooting Guard
Basketball Playground In Rome
➜ Position Summary:
Shooting Guard, commonly called SG, the two or off-guard, is an expert with long shots (ranging from 20 meters and more). A player with all-round (combo) skills revels in this position since he gets to use a combination of all his skills as a shooting guard. Shooting guards are taller than point guards.
➜ Role:
A shooting guard primarily makes long shots at the hoop. They get the second most number of assists. He needs to be a specialist with scoring through defensive set-ups. While shooting guards are supposed to shoot from long distances, some like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have redefined this position in a way where they drive the ball right up to the hoop and give it a shot.
➜ Best Shooting Guards:
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Arron Afflalo, George Gervin, and Dwyane Wade
Small Forward
Basketball Player
➜ Position Summary:
Small forward, commonly known as SF or the three, is a very versatile position. Small forwards are proficient at defense and are very tall and lean. Additional qualities that a small forward should have is athleticism, flexibility, rebounding, and speed.
➜ Role:
A small forward is more of a passer than anything else. Some of them are such good shooters that they develop their defensive skills to earn the small forward position, and use their shooting talent to shoot the ball a fair distance for three pointers. Accurate foul calling skill is a peremptory requirement although it's more of a mind game than a basketball thing.
➜ Best Small Forwards:
Kevin Durant, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Scottie Pippen, and Elgin Baylor
Power Forward
➜ Position Summary:
Power Forward, commonly known as PF or the four, is a more offensive variation of the center position. The game play of a player at the power forward position is supposed to be offensive, and some players tend to turn it up a notch higher when surrounded by the opponent's defense traps. Power forward allows variety of shapes and sizes of players to take guard.
➜ Role:
A power forward scores with a variety of weaponry at hand: hook, sky hook, etc. This player needs to be the firsthand rebounder of the squad. He who can make long and strong shots is an asset to any basketball team. While a power forward always needs to be an enforcer and play an offensive game, basic defensive skills are also necessary. When the center is in a scoring position or is playing at peak form, a power forward needs to defend and assist him.
➜ Best Power Forward:
Tim Duncan, Bob Pettit, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Dirk Nowitzki
Center
➜ Position Summary:
The center, commonly known as pivot or the five, is the crucial most position in a basketball game. The role of the center is usually assigned to the tallest player in the squad (some reaching as high as 6 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 10 inches).
➜ Role:
A center's primary responsibility is to score from close quarters of the basket (courtesy his tall height). The player in the center position is usually the one who takes the jump ball. The role and position of a center is fast becoming redundant, thanks to tall and strong power forwards who are often given the charge of center as a fill-in job, or who shoot from the power forward position with much strength.
➜ Best Centers:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing, and Wilt Chamberlain
What makes it interesting is all of them are unique in their own way. With their special characteristics, they contribute to the team as a whole, just like our 5 fingers! You lose one and you lose it all!
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