Featured Gallery, NBA / Apr 7, 2011 / 12:00 pm

A Dime Guide: Which Basketball Position Is For Me?

James Naismith

James Naismith

Basketball used to be simple. Back when James Naismith invented the sport in 1891, the game looked very different. Players didn’t dribble. There were no three-pointers. Here’s the craziest part of all: there weren’t even positions. Teams had this weird idea that they could just play their five best players.

Nowadays everyone has a position. Expectant fathers stare at ultrasound pictures trying to figure out if their child will be a post player like daddy. Even the chubby 40-year-old guy at the park freaks out when you tell him to give up the ball because he can’t dribble.

(“Man, I’m a point guard!”)

But what if you don’t know your position? What if you’re completely new to the game?

As part of Dime’s continuing commitment to youth basketball, we present the following guide for our youngest readers. It is a reference tool designed to help the beginning hoopster find his or her place on the court. After all, it should never be left to the coaches to tell you what position to play: we saw Blue Chips, and those dudes are totally crooked.

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Point Guard

The point guard is the player who dribbles the ball up the court. This is usually done while holding two fingers in the air, which doesn’t mean anything at all. To be a good point guard you have to develop several important skills: dribbling, screaming at your teammates and doing that thing where you slap the floor on defense.

The point guard position was invented a long time ago so that short people could play basketball. Casual fans LOVE point guards, especially small white ones. They call these players “floor generals.” If you have ever been called a floor general, what this really means is you’re annoying.

Point guards call the plays on offense. They are usually the captains of their teams. And point guards generally grow up to become coaches, because, let’s face it, short people try to control everything.

Shooting Guard

Mothers and fathers, if you have an only child, he or she will grow up believing they are a shooting guard. They are strange creatures, aloof and odd. A shooting guard will wear rubber bands on his wrist, a sweatband on his head, a padded shooting sleeve that covers his entire arm, a brace on his knee, and will think nothing of holding up the team’s practice to tape a pinky finger on his shooting hand that has never been injured.

Deep down inside, every shooting guard believes that he or she has been chosen. They have grown up watching Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and in their minds they believe that the best player on any team is always the shooting guard. During games they will spend long stretches on offense standing in the corner, brooding and waiting for teammates to come and set screens. Some shooting guards believe that it is against the rules for them to venture inside the three-point arc for any reason.

The one exception to this is the end-of-game scenario, where the shooting guard sprints out to midcourt and demands the ball as the clock winds down. He then waves all of his teammates away and begin to dribble back and forth while everyone stands and watches. When the clock reaches six seconds, he will jack knife towards the hoop and chuck up an off-balance jumper, often with two or three defenders draped all over him. This almost never works.

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  • Taj

    I was a point guard till I read this.. Now I think I’m gonna quit playing all together! LOL!

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I laughed.

  • Nella

    Haha, this was good.


    Im a Point Center… all the skills of one with the height of the other.

  • NYK

    awesome post

  • Big Island

    This was great. I read the center description (I played center) and was nodding all the way up to the 3 pointers at practice. Then I remembered I would hold my hand up for days after I hit one. Well played…

  • First & Foremost

    Great Article.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “That mofo is a waste of height. If I was that tall…”

  • neoy

    Power forwards commonly fantasize about being moved to point guard in an overtime game after all their team’s guards foul out. If you don’t believe this, find a power forward and ask him if he could play point.


    A center has two jobs: First, he must guard the player on the opposing team who looks like he just escaped from a supermax prison


  • jimbo

    great work!!!!

  • Otto

    I forwarded this to my girl to see if the bit about the point guards is applicable to me. Her response: “this is so true that it makes me question why we’re together.”

  • sweetv0mit

    totally unexpected… good read! hahaha

  • http://www.MVPresidesinChitown.com Chicagorilla


    That was a great read. Sign me up as the oversized PG who still thinks he can play point like back in HS LMAO. Then i later became the SF who specializes in nothing but fouls.

  • Promoman

    Even the chubby 40-year-old guy at the park freaks out when you tell him to give up the ball because he can’t dribble.
    (“Man, I’m a point guard!”)

    Good Lord, that’s the most dead on statement of that I’ve read in my life. A lot of people think because they’re short means that they’re point guards, young and old. Nothing’s further from the truth. You can go to any spot and find tons of short guys who can’t dribble, can’t shoot, can’t/won’t pass, can’t/won’t play defense, etc. The closet thing to running an offense in their minds is playing buddyball, passing exclusively to the guard, and making sure that players who actually know what to do get the ball as little as possible so they can’t get exposed for what they are: Garbage. They actually help the other team win and God help you if you’re playing in any sort of organized ball with them.

  • Stunnaboy2K11

    First off hahahahhahahah

    My god that is so true, specially the PF part. In my HS I played PF and almost sub-consciously limited my arsenal to fadeaways. I was like the black Dirk :P. Funny thing is I had pretty decent handles and could pass so I just ended up running the offence form time to time. Good times.

    Its like football. Everyone wants to be the QB/PG. Something about the control it gives you I guess.

  • JDish

    JAJAJA … I’m gonna be honest, I’m a PERFECTLY described(used-to-be-shooting-gaurd) small forward (just worse) LOL. I’m a nomad, not quick enough and not good enough handles to be a point gaurd, and not big enough to be a PF or Center (just last week I was getting destroyed by a post-up Pwr forward in a pick-up game). YES I will show-up and make the occasional tip-in, pull in the Offensive rebound and score because I was at the right place at the right time, make the rare nothing-but-net 2-pointer … and so on. This is funny!

  • k to the mart

    First!!!! this is too funny. i fit the shooting guard profile perfectly lol

  • daghost

    First off,
    props man. you have just become my favorite dimemag writer. I really didn’t think you would break down positions like this. Hilarious. More importantly, i like that everyone is being humble and honest and not a single argument or name calling has resulted from this post. Let’s keep it this way gentleman, please. I would love to see us be united and have a good time/laugh about this article. Will definitely save it.

    PS: With that in mind, i always wondered why i try to run the court even though i don’t have much handles. Ask me and i swear i do though. lol But what you said is true. It’s gotta be the control and the feeling that you are running things. In reality, i’m probably a tweener undersized point guard based on your description. :)

  • quest???

    I’m a 6’2 allen Iverson fan but I love playing power foward. I love the physicality of it, defense, blocking shots and scoring in the paint.

  • yoda

    started as a pg, with age and wight moved into center zone now :)
    but i still consider myself point forward
    and great article :D

  • https://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE


    SF in a pg body worst nightmare ever lol. Good (Versatile hahaha) at a lot of stuff, master at nothing.


  • Aussie Ric

    Damn dude, that’s some funny stuff right there

  • cesar

    lol everything u said is true!

    ps.: im a SF!

  • Jonas

    That was actually funny. In ten years of amateur ball, i’ve had EVERY player described here on my team.

  • knoc99

    great read. gave me quite a few laughs. keep it up MP

  • Abe504

    lol hilarious, this needs to be printed out and posted on every gym door. They are dead on with the descriptions, so much im not even gonna play point no more because i know i can’t dribble worth crap and should be calling plays, lol

  • cheif youngblood

    if you only knew how much time I spend dejected in the corner waiting for the off ball screen …. too true

  • kief

    hahah i was a center in highschool

  • JBaller

    Power forward at the rec, point guard in my mind, foul machine with no handle in reality.

    Too true MP

  • Ian

    pf here that can shoot threes(usually avoid it im too big to be doing that doesnt look good) not a good scorer in the paint but usually the best offensive rebounder in my leagues (well im built like blair).

    now the best description was the pg one. i always arrive late at my league to avoid being one of the first ten there and having a 50percent chance of playing with a 5’2 (he swears hes 5’8) 280lbs pg thats always there early.

  • Simon

    I was a small forward who used to think I was versatile and a defensive stopper. Now I know I was just useless.