Ball is not always life

Let me throw some names at you. Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, George Gervin, Alex English, and Adrian Dantley. What do these guys have in common? They were all scoring specialists. They were paid to put the ball in the hole. These guys  were unbelievable when it came to scoring, putting up numbers that are hard to imagine and closely resemble stats you would see in NBA 2K video games. So now I bring this question. Why did these guys get so many points? The answer is simple: They had the ball in their hands constantly. This has its pros and cons. You obviously want the ball in the hands of your best player, and if they are hot, then keep feeding them the ball. The cons are that the ball sticks, movement stops, and all the attention is towards that particular player. When going up against an elite defensive team, that team can overload that side of the floor and make him see multiple defenders while rotating and closing out on the other players. So what can this player do? There are so many ways for a team to have an elite scorer and still win without playing “hero ball”, because that never wins in the playoffs or in games against great teams. A lot if this, however, relies on the scorer doing most of the work.

Phil Jackson used to teach his players how to read a defense. What’s that? Instead of running down the floor thinking about where you have to be for the play being called or the play that just happened on the other end, looking at how the defense is set and seeing whether or not he is set and ready to play. This small action can make a huge difference for players. It takes a high basketball I.Q. to do this, but with watching film and practice, it can be done and make players ten times better. When it comes to the “scorers”, reading the defense will help them to judge whether or not the defense is overloading, getting ready to double, or to see if all eyes are on him. For the “other guys”, it will help to determine if they can make a play by cutting to the basket, setting a screen, or finding an open spot for a jump shot.

In my opinion, the most dangerous player you will face is one that does his damage when the ball is NOT in his hands. Think about it, what if you’re defending this guy and the ball is on the other side of the floor? As a coach, keep the ball out of his hands unless it is necessary. Remember, a defender needs to see both the ball and his man, so just imagine if he has to see the ball plus keep tabs on the 30 ppg scorer who can erupt at any moment. This concept also makes the other players better. They will feel more involved in the flow of the offense, therefore giving them more incentive to play harder. It also eliminates double teams, because if done right, the scorer will be getting the ball in an area of the floor where double teaming will lead to easy baskets (this is where reading the defense comes in).

I’m not hating on scorers, I absolutely love seeing a guy go for 50 or 60 points. The only thing I’m saying is that having him handle the ball the entire time will not only hurt the team, but it will hurt him as well. Just look at MJ and Kobe, they did all of the things I mentioned above and they have 11 rings between them.

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