It is important as both a basketball player and fan of the game to understand what each and every position does on the court.

The “1”: Point Guard

The point guard is usually the smallest player on the team, but also the quickest.  Their main job on the team is to distribute the ball to their teammates, control the tempo of the game, run plays, and lock down the opposing players point guard.  This is a hugely important position in basketball as the point guard is the one who will have possession of the ball most of the game.  Some point guards are “score first”, and will often take most of the shots for their team as well, like Allen Iverson.  Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook are all point guards.

The “2”: Shooting Guard

The shooting guard is the second guard whose main job it is to score.  The shooting guard needs to have the ability to shoot the ball, and slash towards the hoop to score layups and draw fouls.  These players are usually very athletic and possess a wide array of methods to get to the basket and score.  A good shooting guard is seen as crucial to winning a championship.  Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade are all shooting guards. 

The “3”: Small Forward

The small forward is one of the most versatile players on the team.  They need to be able to do a bit of everything, from grabbing rebounds to dishing it to their big men.   Small forwards also need to be great on the defensive end, often having to guard spots 1-4 and often the opponent’s best player so that their main scorers can use their energy on offense.  Of course, some small forwards are the best scorers on the team.  LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant all often play the small forward position.

The “4”: Power Forward

The power forward has to be able to score in the paint and grab rebounds, both on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.  Many power forwards today are excellent and face up jump shots, as well as post moves.  Power forwards usually work from either the block or the elbow, looking to find a good spot in the paint to score.  Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, and Kevin Garnet t are all power forwards.

The “5”: Center  

The center is the defensive anchor, the presence in the paint that discourages the opposing team from driving into the paint.  His main job is to grab rebounds, block shots, and outlet pass to his guards.  However, in modern times, the center often possesses the ability to dribble the basketball and shoot from 3 point land.  Because of their ability to defend the paint, the center is seen as the most important part of winning a championship.  Dwight Howard, Andrea Bargnani, and Andrew Bynum are all centers.