Basketball Positions And Roles – Explained Guide for All The Time [2023]

Basketball Positions

In a basketball game, specific basketball positions are assigned to each player according to their role and expertise. Two teams play a game usually, and each team contains five players in each specific basketball position. Definitely, not only virtuoso players but also the strategy with which they play performs a pivotal role in the game.

Now, let’s dive into the brief history of basketball positions and roles. 

Initially, each player was assigned basketball positions strategically, like a player was assigned a position according to his role in the game. There were three main positions: guards, forwards, and center, two on guard, two on forward, and one in the center. But, over the long haul, as the game developed, five basketball positions are made. 

  • Point Guard
  • Shooting Guard
  • Small Forward 
  • Power Forward 
  • Center 

However, most of the time these basic five positions are occupied. But depending upon the game, and the coach’s strategy further players can also be inserted as The Sixth Man to spice the game up. 

Distinct Basketball Positions and Roles 

Now, let’s explain these basketball positions more deeply. As I also know that the above hasty intro isn’t enough for beginners. So, without wasting a second let’s dive into them:

1. Point Guard (PG)

As mentioned above point guard is one of the basketball positions. A player on the point guard is typically called a playmaker and ball-handler. As the point guard position is like that it’s the complete control of the ball. Play guard location in court varies in agreement with the game and particular situation.

What Does a Point Guard Do In Basketball?

Point guard players in basketball do vital roles like initiating the team’s offense, advancing the ball on the court, and proffering chances to score to teammates. 

Generally, you can say that the point guard is the leading player on the court like the coach outside the court. 

Initially, point guard players start with offensive play and are positioned near the basketball backcourt or middle-court line. However, after offensive possession, these players spread out on the court so as to facilitate their teammates to score points.  

Moreover, point guard athletes also defend the point guard of the opposing team to muddle their offense. Hence, an exceptional point guard can give the game and his teammates a boost and turn the tide in his team’s favor.

Usually, the shortest players of the team are in the point guard position. So they can control, dribble, and pass the ball magnificently, and also make their fellow get the ball easily. 

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A point guard player must have a high basketball IQ, so he can read between the lines of the opposing defense and also should be of high aptitude decision maker to react exactly to the counter defense. 

2. Shooting Guard (SG)

Shooting guard is another premium position in basketball. Though not having so many strict duties as a point guard, but also has various stretching tasks to do. Other names for SGs are two, off-guards, just fashioned by looking at their roles.

If we talk about height, then the stature of SGs is quite tall than that of point guards. Not so tall but still a bit different from them. They shoot from outside the three-point line and also are mid-range jumpers and do layups.

What does a shooting guard do in basketball?

Shooting guards, as the name speaks, are in charge of prolific shooting from outside the three-point line. And also are high mid-range jumpers and do layups.

One of the pivotal roles of the SGs is to circulate the basketball linearly with the three-point line so that it passes on to the open ends of the court. Moreover, he remains active and keeps the court in the blink of an eye to see the opponent’s scheme and to defend properly.

Shooting guards, in addition to shooting, are also defenders, who defend against their opponent team’s shooting guard. They move in the court without the ball to pass the ball at open ends wherever available.


  • The shooting guards must have high-edge shooting ability. The accuracy of the shot, range of the shot, and speed of the shot should be very bit modified to the opposing team’s shooting.
  • Not only shooting but communication with the team also matters, for example, knowing the open ends in the team to pass the ball. Besides in NBA history Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, the brilliant basketball players with the most rings, were able to shoot whatever their position was on the court.
  • Additionally, the shooting guard also required dribbling skills to facilitate the point guard in advancing the ball.
  • SG should be a defensive specialist, which is the ability of the SG to defend against the counterplayer of the opposing team. They (shooting guards) are also capable of moving around the court in open ends to get the ball and pass it onto it.

3. Small Forward (SF)

The most versatile position of all the basketball positions is appraised as the small forward. These are taller than shooting guards but also smaller than power forwards, besides also having strong body figures helping in doing multiple roles like shooting, dribbling, and passing. 

Small forwards are also able to play both inside and outside and also defend in both. Their positions and roles are more like SGs but more versatile than theirs. 

What does a small forward do in basketball?

Small forwards are athletic and quick players capable of playing above the rim and grabbing rebounds both offensively and defensively.

As capable of wearing all the hats they can replace any positions among the basketball 5 positions and can play instead of them. If the SG isn’t playing properly then the coach may say the SF to play instead of him, thanks to the variety of skills a small forward have. 

In offensive mode of playing, SFs make three-pointers, set screens, and positioned themselves for easy layups. While defensively playing, they try to defend the ball and hold possession of the ball.


  • Ball handling skills                  to get possession of the ball
  • Defensive skills                       to read and control competitor’s strategies
  • Quickness and athleticism      to reach where needs to be
  • Scoring and rebounding          to help the team win by scoring big

4. Power Forward (PF)

Power forward, one of the basketball positions, players are typically second tallest after center. They’re also named the four. Physically they are more strong and more aggressive than the guards and small forward players.

Power forwards are both offensive and defensive players but not as small forwards. Their basketball positions is aligned in such a way that responsible for rebounding, and with special basketball IQ, pass the ball to guard the hoop.

What does the power forward do in basketball?

Power forwards are good at rebounding. As PFs lie near the rim so provide points to their teammates in offensive defense to score more and also grab the opposing team’s rebounds and back up the ways to easy layups.

PFs have strong bodies and are also tall so fight against the tough player of the opponent team.

Power forwards are also offensive defenders to break up more ways of scoring for their team.


  • Rebounding skills
  • Defensive skills-both offensive and defensive
  • Versatile ways scorer

5. Center 

Typically the tallest players are for the center position. Being so high they are located around the baseline, near the basket, and smooth the way to rebounding, also to score, and screening the play.

However, in addition to the height, there are also other skills leading the player to the center basketball position. Like a quick and attentive mind to play the game by ear. Centers also protect their team and play defensively. 

The Role Of Centers In Basketball

The centers, having lofty and strong bodies, play defense by blocking the opposer’s shots, and as they’re close to the basket so they put the opponent in a tight spot for shooting. 

One of the key roles of the centers is grabbing the rebounds which is primarily the PFs’ role but as they are close to the rim so get more chances to rebound.

Centers also make more scoring favorable and post up while playing offensively. 

Centers can limit the movements of the opposing team by the effective post up which becomes a threat to them. So, centers must possess the ultimate skills to do what their position demands from them.


As the role of the centers is sketched above, so by keeping in mind these roles, they must have the following skills:

  • Excellent rebounding, either offensive or defensive
  • Capable of screening the play
  • Good shot blocker
  • Must have deadly passing abilities to score more
  • Able to clamp down the opponent’s defense
  • Also, possess great posts up

6. The Sixth Man 

The sixth man is usually the first replacement in basketball positions from the bench (described below) and is the driving force to push up the team’s performance.

He holds multiple roles like scoring, leading the game, and also creating a strong defense. As he adds to the team later, after the first five so, he should cover up all these roles to improve the team’s performance.

The Sixth Man

Bring energy and momentum to the game as the starting player exhaust to maintain the character of the team.

Overall, the sixth man is the vital player playing a significant role and also adding valuable contributions both on and off the court.

Overall, the sixth man, a vital player, plays a significant role and also adds valuable contributions both on and off the court.

The Bench

The bench consists of players sitting on the sideline not active in basketball positions, off the court where the players sit when they’re not playing. They are mostly the potential members of the team and the coach calls them in their time of need after the first five.

The Bench

They usually come in case of any injury of the playing first fives and replace them. Bench players are recalled to improve the team’s performance if the formers are not doing well. 

In professional games, like NBA there is always one replacement for each starting line player. So, their number may reach up to 5 to 6.


Overall, the blend of talents, dedication, and teamwork jointly can take up the game to the next level and can leave out a legacy in the support.

From the point guard leadership to the center’s crucial role in the game, all the basketball positions carry a load of the team’s efficacious performance.

Furthermore, the sixth man and the bench also provide treasure support to the team by adding their instrumental skills.

however, all these basketball positions do their roles by following the rules set to make the game fair and to avoid basketball fouls.

Here’s the completion of the basketball positions guide where each position, their roles, and skills are explained vividly and comprehensively. You can also enjoy a lot about basketball without playing just by reading the best basketball books and watching the best basketball movies.

Do read it and enjoy your way to basketball.

Here is the link for you if you wanna get to know more about basketball positions.

Frequently Asked Questions 

You can know about your basketball position by determining the abilities and the skills you have. By knowing your skills like ball-handling, shooting, dribbling etc. you can go with the perfect basketball positions for you.

Typically, the two guards (point guard + shooting guard) are considered as the most scoring basketball position, because these two are involved in ball handling, shooting, and providing the more scoring opportunities for themselves and teammates.

Yes, shooting guard are best known for their athleticism, so they can dunk in basketball. However, the abilities to dunk vary in different players because of different skill set and abilities.

A player can switch the basketball position depending upon their performance and abilities. A coach can decide the switching of basketball position of any player after accessing their skills according to the needs of the team or the player’s development.

Yes, there are several players who are called as multiple basketball position players, like Lebron James who have played as small forward, power forward, and even as point guard due to his versatile skills and different roles.

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