I'll just start by saying that I am not completely clueless on the issue. I can read the Wikipedia page on basketball, and although I have only been an avid basketball fan since the Melo trade, and I am too young to have really understood basketball at all before the 2000's, I still have been around it enough throughout my life to understand the theoretical difference between difference between the two. However, it seems like the two roles are confounded more now than ever before in the NBA, and I would appreciate if some of you peeps out there that have been fans for a longer time could give me a little bit of a history lesson.
So, here's my understanding:
An example of a prototypical Center is none other than our own Kosta Koufos. Which isn't to say that he is the best or anywhere near it, but he stays next to the basket at all times, always boxes out and fights for rebounds to the best of his ability, gets most of his points from tip ins and back to the basket post moves after receiving the ball already close to the basket.
A counter example to this, although I wasn't alive at the time so I may be wrong, is KA-J. I'm pretty sure than over the course of his career he was always considered a C and not a PF out of position, however his hook shot meant that he wasn't always or even most of the time hanging out close to the basket. In watching highlights of the showtime Lakers, it seems like Worthy was just as likely to be in the post as KA-J. In any case it seems like more often than not he didn't receive the ball right next to the basket.
For a power forward, once again although not the best, I think Kenyon Martin was a great example of what a power forward should be: compared to a K2 type center , he has more range on his jumper (although I remember as well as anyone he certainly didn't have a three point shot), more of a face up as opposed to a back to the basket game in the post, and more of an inside-outside (slashing, oftentimes gaining possession in the corner as opposed to in the post) game. On defense, the Power Forward must be more versatile, and have quicker lateral movement, as they must be able to defend perimeter and post, as K-mart was.
A counter to this would be Ibaka. I know he is listed as PF/C, but it seems to me most think of him as a PF and that where he gets most of his minutes. This is strange to me because it seems for the most part he is useless when he is further than 10 feet away from the basket. Okay, not useless, but not nearly as good as he is in the post.
The reason I was thinking about this was because of the Position Rankings done a couple weeks back, and most people couldn't seem to agree whether players like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, and Nene should be rightfully counter as PF's or C's.
I get that especially Gasol and Bosh are more of finesse players, and don't really have that Ewing box out mentality, but that being said they are not really jump shooters or slashers and are generally best close to the basket.
I sense that the emergence of the pick and roll in the 90's has helped blur distinctions as it requires good post players to play out of the post a lot to set screens, but I'm not sure if I'm on the right track there.
What are your thoughts?