Offensive Fundamentals and Teaching Points for Any Level

In watching a lot basketball at the high school, collegiate and NBA levels, I’m always reminded that the best coached teams and players at all three levels are fundamentally grounded in the same basic way:

  1. Each player who catches and “faces up”-“fights” to square to the basket-no matter how great the pressure on the ball. The notion of “nose on the center of the rim” can be helpful to younger players. (The very best coached players catch the ball as much as possible already squared).
  2. Each player on the catch is in a “ready”, “flexed” or “triple-threat” position. There isn’t a hint of casualness. The player is immediately ready to shoot, pass or drive.
  3. The ball doesn’t “settle” at a player. If you watch the Spurs, for instance, after the initial thrust (post feed, cut, screen/roll, UCLA cut etc.) into the guts of the defense and they get an “edge” where the defense is fighting to get back even, the ball keeps moving to maintain the “edge”. When players let the ball “settle”, they give the defense a break. Many Spurs’ possessions have more “good” touches in 24 seconds than many HS possessions without a shot clock.
  4. Teams that systematically square all the time and are “ready” on the catch generally have very good “court vision” and see cutters, backdoors and post-ups better. Court vision can be practiced.
  5. There are “dribblers” and there are “drivers”. Dribblers bounce in one spot or bounce “east-west”. Drivers are “north-south” and efficient. Only the greats get “rhythm bounces”. Also, these drivers don’t pick up their dribble until they have a place to go. If a teammate does pick up his dribble, the other four players are in “fire-alarm’ mode to go to the ball to help.
  6. The best teams and players know that it’s easier to drive a seam after an initial thrust into the D and after the ball is moving. To try to drive into the heart of the defense early when it is set-is usually a low percentage play-even for the greats.
  7. The best teams run all their action very hard and “make” the defense take it away. Again, casualness is a major sin. The best teams have counters to the D taking away an action.
  8. The best teams have great spacing and players who understand that, and adhere as much as possible.
  9. The best teams understand that there are no “throwaway possessions”. Sure, there will be missed shots and turnovers but an “empty” possession because of a lack of commitment by everyone on the floor is another sin. The best coached players understand that even when they don’t take the shot or make the pass for the shot themselves that they can add “value” to the possession-even several times.
  10. The best teams know that a possession that starts “good” has a higher % chance of ending “good”. Possessions with bad beginnings usually end badly.


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