Faster than the Speed of Light: The Fundamentals of Hoops

When watching basketball we love to watch high scoring games. We love numbers, we love fast pace, and we love to see dribbling.

People love it when the ball stops. That’s when the defense has an opportunity to crowd a ball handler; the degree of difficulty increases on the shot dramatically. Only the great ones are able to function under this kind of pressure. The likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony are all good players in isolation situations. They are able to get a shot off using a plethora of moves.

Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are exceptional in triple threat situations when they are able to pass, dribble, or shoot. They’ll use their skillful footwork and one-on-one skill to get a clean look for a split second, no matter how difficult the shot. The ball sticks like glue to their hands as they are holding it and their teammates are watching them work. As entertaining as this may be to a lot of us, this isn’t the right way to play basketball. It isn’t the pure way; it’s not the way you want your kids to grow up learning.

Basketball is a game of sharing–the more you share the better your team is. Crisp ball movement and passive-aggressiveness can mold a team into a champion. The Dallas Mavericks, just last season, had only one prolific player on their roster in Dirk Nowitzki. The other players on that team were doing nothing more than playing a role. What increased their game? Sharing.

Moving the ball will make any player better. It allows the offense to know what’s coming next and keeps the defense scrambled. Players who aren’t able to create off the dribble are more comfortable with their open looks and players who can create don’t feel like they need to. Ball movement is the great equalizer that puts everyone on an even playing level.

It takes a true team to actually share the ball. All egos must be kept at bay as you may not be able to take every shot that you want to take. This is the true sacrifice that great players must go through. Monetary value isn’t as much of a worry on the court when shot selection is the only thing that matters. Taking a bad shot can disrupt your offense immensely.

The San Antonio Spurs, who look amazing right now, are a team that is composed of three stars and a lot of other role players. The difference between them and the Oklahoma City Thunder is that they spread the wealth. Tony Parker will defer the ball to Tim Duncan, Duncan will defer to Ginobili, Ginobili will defer to Danny Green, Green will have a wide open three point shot he’ll take.

The ball movement makes everything so comfortable for a player like Green who really isn’t so good at anything. He’s your average, run of the mill, NBA guy who was once trouncing around in the NBDL.

The same goes for Boris Diaw who wasn’t wanted by possibly the worst team of all time in the Charlotte Bobcats. Many NBA aficionados thought that Diaw’s time was over in the league. He was at the end of many jokes about the Bobcats. The Spurs saw his value in their offense, and look at him now. Green and Diaw’s skills are now increased ten fold because of the shots that are created by not only creators, but ball movers as well.

Swing here, swing there, swing back, shoot. There is something that is quite poetic about this motion. Its a beautiful thing. Sharing is winning in the NBA and the Spurs are absolutely proof of that. They are the leagues second highest scoring team and the highest rated team in scoring per 100 possessions. Their depth is fully utilized because of the ball movement; they have ten guys who average above eight points per game. That speaks volumes to their sense of team and their sense of passing.

No defender can move faster than the ball. If the defense isn’t settled, they don’t know where the ball is going. The pass is the most dangerous method of creation in the NBA and it’ll always be that way.

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