Basketball has changed a lot since the NBA was founded in 1946. The 24-second shot clock was introduced, the 3-point line was installed, and, to the dismay of the late, great, smoky Red Auerbach, puffing a stogie on the sidelines is now prohibited. But those shifts pale in comparison to the revolution that's taken place during the past 15 years.
At every position, players are bigger, faster and stronger—although not necessarily taller: data shows that the average height of NBA rosters has been decreasing since 2002. Where there used to be "perimeter players" and "big men," we now see freakishly talented athletes who can hold their own anywhere on the court. In fact, the word "position" may be losing its meaning—today's top players can post up under the hoop, snare rebounds like a center and bring the ball up the court like a point guard on the next possession. And thanks to more aggressive modern offenses, which ditch half-court setups in favor of full-court, quick-strike attacks, game play is happening at a faster pace than ever before.
To see how much the game has transformed in the past decade and a half, just compare the dominant teams of each era—the '97-'98 Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan's last championship year) and last season's champion Miami Heat. The Heat players are shorter (no player comes anywhere near the height of 7-foot-2 Bulls Center Luc Longley) but heavier (weighing an average of 7 pounds per man more than the Bulls)—and they play faster, averaging four more offensive possessions per game than the Bulls of yesteryear.
The changes you've seen on TV are coming to a court near you, and they'll be there more quickly than you think. That's why STACK convened a panel of the best and brightest minds training today's ballers—Steve Hess, strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Nuggets; Dan Barto, head skill trainer at IMG Academy; Bryan Meyer, Dwight Howard's trainer; and Alan Stein, Kevin Durant's high school trainer and strength coach for perennial powerhouse DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)—to discuss what up-and-coming hoops players need to do to keep pace. Click the links below for their advice about how you can stay ahead of the game.
Prepare for the Basketball Revolution
The Game Is More Physical
Since 1985, the weight of the average NBA player has increased by nearly 10 pounds, hovering just below 223 pounds at the beginning of last season. Find out why stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are packing on muscle and what you can do to keep up.
The Game Is More Up Tempo
Faster teams are winning more. Seven of the NBA's top ten teams in PACE (offensive possessions per game) made it to the playoffs last season. Keep up with a faster game with trainer Alan Stein's basketball speed workout.
The Game Is More Skilled
Jumpers, dribble drives, three pointers, post-ups—nothing is out of the realm of possibility for today's hybrid players, and their style of play is trickling down to colleges and high schools. Become your team's MVP by learning moves for every position on the court.
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