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3 reasons Hall of Famer Ben Wallace would still dominate today’s NBA

Ben Wallace, Pistons, Hall of Fame

Ben Wallace was finally inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Basketball diehards were reminded of Wallace’s defensive dominance in the early 2000s with the Detroit Pistons.

While it feels like a lifetime ago, his brand of play hasn’t aged one bit. In fact, there are three good reasons why Big Ben would still reign supreme in today’s NBA.

No problem with small ball, positionless lineups

It’s interesting that during Wallace’s prime, the narrative around him was how he managed to stand his ground despite being an undersized center at 6’9.” Fans and analysts were in awe how a non-seven footer dominated foes way taller than him. In today’s NBA, those “undersized narratives” are long gone.

Big men of today have the skill set of guards. Most of them can shoot and are not limited to scoring in the post or through offensive putbacks. If some traditional big men of the past were transplanted to today’s game, only some of them would be effective. A good chunk of them would be tagged too slow and immobile to be a part of the regular rotation. You cannot say this for Wallace.

It all starts with how Wallace played. The four-time Defensive Player of the Year was extremely strong but was not too bulky enough to be slow. Pistons fans can attest to how Wallace stayed in front of much quicker and craftier guards and rarely missed a defensive rotation. Of course, there’s his leaping ability which allowed him to swat or flat-out snag the ball in midair.

These abilities, which he utilized back then, could still be used today and would yield equal or even greater results. It’s easy to imagine Wallace staying in front and flexing his muscles to someone like LeBron James. He would have no problem with containing Joel Embiid in the post as well.

Defense always wins

No matter what basketball era you’re from, defense is an imperative part of the game. You know how the adage goes: Defense wins championships. When the offseason hits, teams that are on the brink of winning the title or becoming a postseason contender actively search for a player who can play defense.

In fact, some terms such as “3-and-D” and “two-way” have been used to identify players who can do it all. Wallace doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of a “3-and-D” or “two-way” player. But his dominance on defense more than makes up for his weaknesses on offense.

Before we forget, Wallace was perhaps the only player who was able to beat a prime Shaquille O’Neal. In Game 3 of the 2004 NBA Finals, Wallace limited Shaq to measly numbers of 14 points and eight rebounds. The entire Los Angeles Lakers squad was held to just 68 points. These are just some of the things that Wallace was able to do in his prime. There’s no question that given this era’s heightened emphasis on defense, Ben Wallace would still dominate.

Underdog narrative

When Wallace was getting recognition as a defensive beast, more light was shed on his background, especially the fact that he entered the NBA as an undrafted prospect. Colleagues and coaches shared stories of how Wallace worked extremely hard to get to the top. And once he reached it, he never took a day off and continued putting in the work. For the legion of fans, it was definitely a heartwarming and inspiring story. The same goes for his teammates, as it gave them a good perspective of things.

This sounds trivial, but these little backstories add dynamic to the whole team. Having a teammate who really started from the bottom forces you to refresh your memory with life’s basic but finest teachings: Never take anything for granted and when you put in the work, good things will follow.

Given his attitude, there’s a good chance Wallace would work hard to include a jump shot in his arsenal. He actually unveiled a jump shot from time to time during his stint with the Pistons. When teams would sag off him, he sometimes shows off his form which, to be fair, has the proper mechanics. Perhaps the demand to perfect his stroke wasn’t that extreme to make him put more hours into it. But in today’s era where literally every big man has a reliable jump shot, Wallace would probably be forced to follow suit. Staying in the gym for hours on end is what he does. Ben Wallace with an outside shot in his toolbox would be extremely deadly in today’s NBA.