It’s a coach’s dream to have a number one pick in a draft. Your instincts lead you to choose the tallest player available thinking that he’ll become the next Shaq. You automatically dream of ways to use your new tall player. Alley oops, post plays, pick and rolls, wash your second story windows… the options are unlimited. But many coaches come to find their tall basketball player is just not very good at basketball. Even worse, it seems like he doesn’t really care to be good either.
From youth sports to the NBA, there are vertically gifted athletes that are just too nice. They don’t fight for rebounds. They don’t foul. They don’t really do anything aggressive or too quickly. They just gently make their way down court and back. Except for every once in a while. Someone lights a fire under them. They play to their potential for a handful of games only to go back to their usual gentle-selves.
Not sure if you have a chronically gentle giant on your hands? Compare your gentle giant with the all time greats of gentle giants of professional basketball.
How to identify a gentle giant
1) He has poor footwork or coordination in general. Walking and chewing gum at the same time is very difficult for him. You have hopes that he grow into his body, but that is an uphill battle.
2) He doesn’t use his height to do anything productive, like say put his hands up and block shots. He doesn’t really do anything to stop opposing players from scoring and he doesn’t care about getting the ball on rebounds.
3) Low basketball IQ and just general lack of awareness on the court.
4) He has unkept or purposely messed up hair like he just woke up out of bed. He doesn’t really care to look professional or at least look like a basketball player.
5) He lacks good judgment and often makes the wrong decision. Sometimes he’s just not paying attention.
Why can’t a tall athlete out compete the little guys? Why is he so lazy? Why doesn’t he practice? I believe, at least one of these items is in play when you’re dealing with a gentle giant.
1) Everything has come easy for him, so he never learned how to fight for the ball or out muscle anyone.
2) He hates being tall and hates the attention. Playing average basketball is his way of blending in.
3) He doesn’t really like basketball but plays because people expect him to.
4) He’s under too much pressure from coaches, teammates and spectators because of high expectations.
5) He doesn’t want to hurt anybody.
Not every tall player is a gentle giant
Not everyone follows the stereotype. There are many aggressive tall players in the NBA. Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson, Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, Serge Ibaka all play with a lot of aggression and enjoy using their size to their advantage.
Are some tall players just born with a will to compete? Are some tall people destined to be gentle all of their lives? I don’t know. No one knows it seems. Even in recent NBA drafts, teams have made poor decisions in selecting their tall players. They’ll even give them playing time in order to develop and mature, but sometimes it never pans out. The curious case of the gentle giant is an unsolved mystery.