There is a distinct difference between evolution and change. Evolution denotes improvement. Change simply denotes that things are no longer the same. In regards to basketball, there has been mostly change. There has been a level of evolution in some aspects but at the cost of regression in a lot of areas. Some things about basketball are still enjoyable.
One noticeable and oft mentioned (and misinterpreted) difference in today’s game is the absence of the big man. People don’t realize it but when they say this they really mean the absence of post players (which is still a fabrication but I digress). The league still has big men. They’re just different. These ain’t your daddy’s 4’s and 5’s. These guys are mobile, athletic, some play on the perimeter and some of them even run the offense. Basketball has changed so dumping the ball in the post and letting your big pivot and drop step his way to buckets isn’t a sought after commodity in today’s game. Physically, the big men in the league have evolved. Whether that’s good or bad, I still haven’t decided. If we were able to somehow mesh the athleticism of today with the IQ and skill set of yesteryear, that would be a hell of a sight to see. Put Kevin McHale’s mind and footwork with Anthony Davis’ mobility, ball handling and athleticism and you’d have that created player every 10 yr old put on NBA Live. You know that 7’2” dude who was 99 in everything.
Something else that is no longer the same, the use of the three point shot. The game is now mostly played from the outside in. There have always been snipers in the league, folks just have more opportunities to showcase that ability now. When someone gets on a roll and is just lights out, it’s a beautiful sight. The problem is those other times. Instead of a shooting display we just get a bunch of bad shots. And EVERYONE has that “gotta shoot yourself out of it” mentality lol. So many green lights around here (S/O to Garrett A. Morgan). This leads to a lot to standing around and ball movement suffers as a result. The three point shot as a weapon has definitely evolved within the game but simultaneously has negatively affected other things as well.
Basketball is ever changing. There will be something else that goes from taboo to accepted norm in the next ten years. The stewards and gatekeepers of the game have to ensure that things are not just changing but evolving and growing. It is counterproductive to add or improve on a component of the game and simultaneously contribute to the detriment of another. If we can change the relationship status of athleticism and skill/IQ from “It’s complicated” to “Married” that would be great.