Bigs in today’s NBA game have different archetypes compared to yesteryear.
The quintessential big man now can do a little bit of everything, from occasionally posting up, to slipping pick and rolls, to shooting threes from the perimeter. 30 years ago, though, bigs were restricted mainly to the paint and worked there for buckets.
New Orleans Pelicans rookie Jaxson Hayes is a budding rim runner, and his shot blocking gives him potential to have a long, successful career.
But as a new age center, Hayes recently told Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com that a player who impacted his game was a product of the old school.
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, because of his sky hook,” Hayes said. “He’s a huge influence for a lot of bigs.”
Hayes paying homage to Abdul-Jabbar, the greatest center ever, shows how Abdul-Jabbar created the foundation for the big men who came after him. As the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Abdul-Jabbar had an array of moves in the post.
Along with his elite offense, Abdul-Jabbar is also one of the best defenders ever. According to NBA.com stats, he ranks third all-time in blocks behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo.
With Hayes’ career still very young, his upside is high. During his rookie season, he’s shown his own defensive prowess, ranking second in blocks (0.9) on the Pelicans behind Derrick Favors.