We always hear about different ways to change the NBA brand of basketball to make it more entertaining or reasonable. Suggestions of rule changes (some of which have occurred) for longer or wider courts, hand checks, zone defenses, various three-pointer lengths, cone shaped keys, etc. have always sparked debate among basketball traditionalists.
Recently, an exhibition game featuring various big men tested the waters of playing on an 11-foot rim. So how was the game different? Supposedly there was more passing, spacing and teamwork. It would be like reverting back to early high school ball, where the majority of the game is played below the rim. Undoubtedly, the NBA game would be impacted significantly by a raise of the rims. Today's game seems to be much more reliant on athleticism than fundamentals.
The dominance of big men who play above the rim would be affected the most. Can you imagine the ineffectiveness of Shaquille O'Neal? Granted, he would still be a good player, but gone would be the days of his drop step dunks and spin-move alley-oops. At the same time, guys like Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson - who actually have jump shots to accompany their post game would probably be even more valuable to their team than they were with a 10 foot rim.
So I ask you, who would still be throwing it down in games, regardless of a 12" raise on the rim? Here are a few that come to mind:
- Dwight Howard - Did you SEE the dunk contest this year? Dwight's sticker placement on the backboard (at least 12'6") was proof that he would be able to still throw it down on some faces in a game situation. Supposedly, if Dwight reached the finals of the dunk contest, he was going to bust out a dunk where he actually kisses the rim.
- Vince Carter - Half Man - Half Amazing. Trust me, he's still got it. This is the guy who jumped OVER 7'2" Frederic Weiss to slam it home. And who can forget the 2000 dunk contest?
- Lebron James - How many times have we seen Lebron's head right next to the rim as he skies to the hoop. An athletic freak, and only 22 years old, Lebron would be dunking on faces for years to come.
- Gerald Green - Any scouting report you read on this guy will tell you about his athleticism. True, he was the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest winner, but one dunk comes to mind where he is looking down at the rim on this fastbreak slam. Gerald would have no problem getting on a few posters in an 11-foot-rim world. Do yourself a favor and watch this video.
- Travis Outlaw - It's a shame that this guy never participated in the dunk contest, because it is rare to see ups like Outlaw has. He is 6'7" with a wingspan of a 7-footer. With a 48-inch vertical, supposedly he can touch the top of the backboard. The one dunk that really sticks out in my mind is a monster jam over Yao Ming which you can see in this montage.