The Positions

There are five different types of positions in basketball.  Classically, you would play with one of each of these types of players on the court, but these days coaches and GMs are getting creative with the line up of players to exploit their opponents' weaknesses:

TYPICAL BASKETBALL POSITIONS ON OFFENSE.  Click to enlarge.

TYPICAL BASKETBALL POSITIONS ON OFFENSE.  Click to enlarge.

  • Center (C or "5"): the tallest and strongest member of the team, who typically gets in under the basket to contest and block shots on defense, make short range field goals on offense, and catch rebounds.  Famous Cs include Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Dwight Howard (Atlanta Hawks), and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers).
  • Power Forward (PF or "4"): also one of the taller and stronger members of the team, typically responsible for attempting mid-range shots and catching rebounds.  Famous PFs include Dirk Nowitski (Dallas Mavericks), Tim Duncan (formerly San Antonio Spurs), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), and Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers).
  • Small Forward (SF or "3"): typically, a little shorter and more agile than Cs or PFs, SFs are some of the most versatile players on the court, responsible for scoring points, defending, and rebounding. Famous SFs include LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), and Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks).
  • Shooting Guard (SG or "2"):  players responsible primarily for perimeter shooting and driving to the basket, i.e., scoring points, as the name implies.  Famous SGs include: Kobe Bryant (formerly Los Angeles Lakers), James Harden (Houston Rockets), and Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls).
  • Point Guard (PG or "1"):  typically, some of the smallest players in the game that have the best ball handling skills.  They are responsible for bringing the ball up the court and finding open teammates on offense, though, these days PGs are scoring many more points themselves.  Famous PGs include: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).