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How to: Survive and Thrive as an Oversized Player


You are never too tall to ball


Whenever you step onto a basketball court as one of the tallest guys, you are usually prejudged to be a ‘stiff’, in the game on the merits of height alone. Even if you dominate, your size is given more credit than your efforts and smaller players often assume they will do better if given your gifts.


Tall players are usually pushed to the paint since young, and told to focus on post play. With the advent of ‘small ball’ however, versatility is important for all players. Realistically, you will not always be the biggest player around and will have to rely on more than size one day. By picking up offensive skills such as ball-handling and passing, as with Giannis Antetokounmpo, you have more options, with other bigs reluctant to head outside to guard you. Every big should be able to hit an open shot and a simple jump-hook, so that defenders cannot play off them and cramp the paint. Some players like Kristaps Porzingis have become absolutely deadly from deep as well.


Versatility applies to both ends of the floor. By working on your lateral speed and defensive anticipation, you will be able to effectively guard wing players too. A player able to switch out onto the perimeter and shut down the pick-and-roll is invaluable at any level of play, akin to the talents of Anthony Davis. You should also be able to protect the rim with good timing and fundamentals. Rudy Gobert is a terror in the paint with his ability to alter shots.


At the same time, you should embrace your gifts and use them to your advantage. Young bigs should not be afraid to use their size in banging down low like DeMarcus Cousins, instead of trying to get fancy with dribbling exhibitions. Finally, it is essential that you learn to play through contact. You will get fouled a lot if you are simply too big to stop, and this means you have to work on two things: bulking up and hitting free throws, so that you can punish any team employing such a tactic.