The NBA is going back to a big-man dominated league. That is what Wednesday night’s set of games told me. Is it going to happen this year? No, the NBA is still LeBron’s playground for the next three to five years, but there is a strong group of young centers in the Association at the moment. Greg Monroe, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are all future All-Stars. You can write that down. The day of the finesse big man is nearing its end. We are heading back to ’90s basketball. That’s what Wednesday’s matchup of the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings told.
Just take a look at the highlights:
DeMarcus Cousins showcased his talent in front of the home crowd; racking up 30 points and 14 rebounds. Obviously this is only one game, but I think it is a sign of things to come. Can Cousins, Drummond, Monroe and Valanciunas counter the smaller NBA lineups? I think opening night helped answer that question. The big men in the NBA are making a comeback.
Let’s take a look at this game from a Denver Nuggets perspective. Denver is your prototypical 2000s basketball team: small, athletic, full of finesse and fast. Their roster is filled with a bunch of highlight-reel players. Cousins is listed at 6’11’’ and 270 pounds. Denver’s big men, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee, are listed at 6’8’’ and 228 and 7’0’’ and 250, respectively. Cousins just outmanned Denver’s bigs. There is no other way to put it. Faried and McGee didn’t really stand a chance. One game in and the Nuggets might have been exposed.
Being too small wasn’t Denver’s only problem in this game. Brian Shaw continues to show his love toward Evan Fournier–a love which I don’t understand. Fournier had a poor preseason and it carried into the season opener. Five points in 21 minutes from a shooting guard? Come on, man. It seems like Shaw is also trying to figure out his rotation. Ten players got 15-plus minutes on the court? I’m all for a deep rotation, but that is just too deep. Only seven or eight players should get 15 plus minutes a game. Nine players is stretching it, but 10 is just out of the norm. Let’s see how long Shaw keeps this up.
Now, there is no need to panic. We are only one game in and have 81 more to go. The good news: There are not many true big men like Cousins in the NBA. This isn’t a problem they will be faced with often. Most of the true big guys are young and developing their game. They have years of work to put in to reach that dominant level. However, this is a sign of things to come. Teams need to start getting bigger. Size might not stop LeBron, but it can stop every other player in the NBA. Look at Kevin Durant. Memphis’s size and toughness got to him in the playoffs. Once LeBron’s reign is over, it the NBA will turn into an arms race of big men.