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A Few Good (Big) Men By Kevin Pelton & Jordan Brenner / ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROBB HARSKAMP

This isn't your father's NBA anymore. Gone are the days of dumping the ball into the paint and watching the big lug work. These days, NBA bigs offer a palette of athleticism, specialized skills and intelligence, and they are tasked with an assortment of responsibilities. Here are eight types of big men who roam today's NBA and the jobs they do.

A Few Good
(Big) Men By Kevin Pelton and Jordan Brenner /
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROBB HARSKAMP

Offense

Offense: Floor Stretchers Like the old gunfighters from the West, these deft-shooting big men draw defenders away from the paint with their ability to connect from long range.

Offense: Floor Stretchers Like the old gunfighters from the West, these deft-shooting big men draw defenders away from the paint with their ability to connect from long range.

Offense: Finishers Just as a luchador (Mexican wrestler) finishes off his opponents with a trademark move, these guys finish plays around the basket at a high rate -- usually off a pass from a teammate or an offensive rebound.

Offense: Finishers Just as a luchador (Mexican wrestler) finishes off his opponents with a trademark move, these guys finish plays around the basket at a high rate -- usually off a pass from a teammate or an offensive rebound.

Offense: Post scorers Knights of old had a multitude of skills to dismantle opponents. Give these bigs the ball and watch them create their own offense on the block, utilizing an array of moves.

Offense: Post scorers Knights of old had a multitude of skills to dismantle opponents. Give these bigs the ball and watch them create their own offense on the block, utilizing an array of moves.

Offense: Facilitators Need someone to deliver to their teammates? These clever-passing big men operate from the high post (particularly at the elbows). Coaches love running their offense through these skilled operators.

Offense: Facilitators Need someone to deliver to their teammates? These clever-passing big men operate from the high post (particularly at the elbows). Coaches love running their offense through these skilled operators.

Defense: Rim Protector To serve and protect, these long-armed paint-dwellers control the area in front of the hoop. When they don't swat a shot, they alter it, making their help defense critical if a guard gets beat.

Defense: Rim Protector To serve and protect, these long-armed paint-dwellers control the area in front of the hoop. When they don't swat a shot, they alter it, making their help defense critical if a guard gets beat.

Defense: The Rebounder Cleanliness is next to godliness and in the NBA these guys are on the court because they do one thing -- they finish a defensive stop by "cleaning the glass."

Defense: The Rebounder Cleanliness is next to godliness and in the NBA these guys are on the court because they do one thing -- they finish a defensive stop by "cleaning the glass."

Defense: Post Defender The sworn enemy of post scorers, these strongmen earn their salaries by combining herculean efforts with strength, footwork and old-fashioned guile to shut down scoring threats on the block.

Defense: Post Defender The sworn enemy of post scorers, these strongmen earn their salaries by combining herculean efforts with strength, footwork and old-fashioned guile to shut down scoring threats on the block.

Defense: Mobile Defender These speedsters keep the pedal to the metal. With unusual athleticism for their size, these defensive dynamos can chase stretch bigs on the perimeter and shut down the pick-and-roll with precise footwork.

Defense: Mobile Defender These speedsters keep the pedal to the metal. With unusual athleticism for their size, these defensive dynamos can chase stretch bigs on the perimeter and shut down the pick-and-roll with precise footwork.

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