Versatility is one key element that can lead a player all the way to stardom, and the capacity of making adjustments to your game is one of the things that takes apart the average ballers from the franchise players that can turn a team around on a heartbeat.
Either because going through major growth spurts, because the team is already stacked at that position because the coach needs to make lineups adjustments or just because you’ve got the kind of skill set to be more valuable elsewhere, having the ability to switch positions in the NBA is extremely valuable.
Over the course of history, some of the most talented superstars have been able to switch positions with great ease, showing vast talent, commitment and moreover, great basketball IQ. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 players that have done it.
Honorable Mention: Lamar Odom
10. David Lee – SF/PF
Throughout his rookie season with the New York Knicks, David Lee actually spent about 53% of his minutes playing at the small forward spot, an experiment that obviously didn’t pay off considering his lack of touch from beyond the arc.
Eventually, David Lee would shift to the power forward position almost exclusively, although he also spent some time at center with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs in some small ball sets.
9. Boris Diaw – SG/SF/PF
Boris Diaw was extremely smart and crafty despite looking kind of slow and heavy, and he had the ability to play as much as three different spots on the court with great ease, mostly during his time with the San Antonio Spurs.
As a matter of fact, he entered the league playing the small forward, but also played at the shooting guard spot with the Atlanta Hawks and even 6% of his minutes running the point. Eventually, he would go on and play as much as 96% of his time as a power forward.
8. Paul George – SG/SF
Paul George has a lot of similarities with LeBron James, and one of them if the fact that he was also listed as a shooting guard early on rather than a small forward, mostly because he had to share touches with Danny Granger, who was a top-notch three at the time.
So, he spent over 88% of his minutes at the two spot until Granger eventually got hurt and he as forced to shift all the way to the wings, but he’s now become one of the league’s best players at that spot.
7. Kevin Durant – SG/SF/PF/C
Kevin Durant entered the league as a very skinny player for his height, so he was nowhere near ready to play against well built-up forwards, and with that smooth shooting stroke he’s always had, he spent 93% of his minutes at the shooting guard spot.
After his rookie campaign was over and he built some muscle, he spent about 80% of the time playing at the small forward spot. Went he got to the Warriors, he spent 55% of the minutes at the four and 45% at the three, and his defense has improved a lot up to the point where he can even play the center.
6. Allen Iverson – PG/SG
Just like Jordan, Allen Iverson is mostly remembered for being one of the craftiest and most talented shooting guards ever, but he actually spent 100% of his minutes at the point guard spot during the 2004-05 campaign.
What makes this most impressive is the fact that he had spent 70% of his minutes at the two spot the prior campaign, proving that he was a very willing passer and underrated playmaker as well as a deadly scorer.
5. Dwyane Wade – PG/SG
Dwyane Wade is considered to be one of the greatest shooting guards in the history of this sport, but before becoming a top-tier baller at the two spot, he was actually running the point guard for the Miami Heat.
Wade spent 55% of his minutes running the point for the Heat during his rookie season, but he would eventually shift to the SG spot and play over 90% of his minutes there since his sophomore campaign.
4. Tim Duncan – PF/C
There has always been a debate regarding if Tim Duncan was a power forward or a center, and the answer is pretty simple: he excelled at both. Of course, he spent most of the time at the four during the earlier stages of his career, logging over 70% of his minutes at the PF spot during the 2007 campaign.
Nonetheless, between 2008 and 2016, he shifted to the five spot and spent over 60% of his playing time at center, while he eventually retired playing 99% of the minutes below the rim during the 2016 campaign.
3. LeBron James – SG/SF/PF/C
Even though most people think of LeBron as a combo forward (and with great reason), he actually entered the league as a shooting guar and spent 66% of his minutes playing at the 2 spot throughout his rookie career.
Obviously, he would later switch to the small forward position, where he’d play 95% of his minutes at the wing, and wouldn’t be until his 3rd season as a member of the Miami Heat where he would go on and play a lot of time at the four.
2. Magic Johnson – PG/PF/C
Magic Johnson ran the point guard through most of his career, although his height allowed him to play all the way up to the center spot, even replacing an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA finals amid his rookie campaign.
Also, when Magic decided to unretire and come back to the Los Angeles Lakers, he spent most of his minutes playing the power forward spot, proving to be perhaps the most versatile player this game has ever seen.
1. Michael Jordan PG/SG/SF
Yeah, believe it or not, the greatest shooting guard in the history of the game wasn’t always a shooting guard, as he shifted to the small forward position when he unretired and made a comeback with the Wizards. Jordan spent as much as 80% of his minutes at the three.
Also, he ran some point guard for the Chicago Bulls as well through 24 games back then in 1998, putting sick averages of over 30 points, 9 rebounds and almost 11 assists per game. Simply the GOAT.