Originally Posted by improbus
Yeah, the change in American basketball happened when a few things took place.
1) Team defense improved in the '90's. In the '80's, you had one defensive guy and four others who saw defense as your chance to rest before your next offensive possession. The Pistons changes that with Mahorn, Rodman, Laimbeer, and others. They were so physical. Look at the '92 Dream Team. Barkley, Malone, Bird, Magic, and Mullin were all defensive liabilities. The only guy like that on this team is Carmelo Anthony.
2) Team continuity changed with free agency. In the '80's you had teams that played together for years. They would add one or two parts, but would remain largely intact over a 4-5 year period. The only two teams to accomplish that this decade has been the Pistons and the Spurs, two of the most accomplished teams. Solid passing offense requires time and practice, something that very few teams have.
3) Expansion. There are more teams. In 1984, there were 23 teams. Now there are 30. Imagine if you contracted 7 teams and redistributed the players.
The defense that is played now is the worst I have ever seen. Outside of Bryant and Wade I wouldn't trust a defensive player on team USA. It would take a very good team to beat USA the way they are playing now but throw a Magic or Stockton on the court and the current team's gambles would be capitalized on over and over again.
I think another big change to the game today has been the weight room. Don't get me wrong, it was around in the early 90's, but not to the extent it is now. James and Howard are huge. Their strength can make for their lack of fundamentals. They are able to overpower most people in the league and maintain focus when they assume contact. A difference would be a guy like Malone who wouldn't be afraid to knock a player down. You go into the paint against a guy like Ewing or Malone and you will pay for it.
The shooter and the mid range game is a lost art. Why don't you see players like Bird in the league anymore? Jordon was great at hitting the mid range jumper. In today's game you hardly ever see set up inside the 3 point line but outside of the paint. It just doesn't happen. Prince and Rip Hamilton have made a living for the Pistons by hitting the mid range game.
The PG position has changed drastically. IMO Iverson changed the way the position was played. Gone are the days of Stockton and here are the days of Iverson. The PG psotion has become more flashy and more of a scoring position. Kidd is one of the last holdovers of the pass first shoot second PG.
Lack of development has hurt many of these players. Most of the best pro players spend less than a year in college basketball. Their fundamentals are unrefinded. Most of the 90 stars spend 3+ years in college. There has been a definate change in the way players are drafted now. Players are drafted more on potential right now.
I for one think the game was better during Jordan's hey day. Just a personal opinion. To be honest I haven't watched a complete NBA game since Jordan retired. I love watching college basketball but I can't get into the pro game anymore.