3 Important Lessons of Basketball Wisdom

33474402_lComparing the way you play the game of basketball as an adult compared to how you played as a youth brings out some interesting insights.  Most of us during our youth playing days hope to be the star of the team, score the most points, and make the game winning shot.  While these desires may still hold true when playing the game as an adult, I feel that for myself the way I view success on the court is quiet different than how I used to view it.  Playing in a local adult men’s basketball league last winter really brought this to light.  As you grow up your priorities will hopefully change and this will often make you a better person and basketball player.  Today, I want to do something a bit different and offer three basic insights that can only be learned through years of playing basketball and becoming more mature as a person.

1. Good Decision Making Leads to Good Results

Watch the Spurs to See Good Decision-Making in Action.  Photo via Wikipedia.
Watch the Spurs to See Good Decision-Making in Action. Photo via Wikipedia.

Wow, that sounds almost too simple, right?  But when you really break it down following this tenant of basketball wisdom can be more difficult than it first appears.  Shot selection and passing is really where this lesson shines.  It is important to realize that great teams made up of great players are willing to pass up good shots to continue to move to ball to find a GREAT shot.  Just because you are open does not make the shot great.

To follow this tenant of good basketball I want you to think about the game in a different way.  If you are the type of player who keeps up with their individual stats during the game you should try to stop this habit.  It will ultimately impact how you make decision and give you a bias to try to score points on your own.  Instead, think of each decision as whether it is the best decision you can make for your team and whether that decision is increasing the likelihood that the possession will end up in a bucket.  This way you no longer worry about yourself and you try to focus your energy on great decision-making, which leads to becoming a more mature, better basketball player.

Learn more about good decision-making by watching Greg Popovich coached Spurs games.

2. Good Ball Movement Trumps Good Ball Handling

What I am saying here is not that ball handling is not important.  It most certainly is, however, trying to pull some And 1 mix-tape move on your opponent is more than likely just an opportunity to try and look cool.  This is not what wise (winning) basketball players do.  As you get a bit older (and a bit slower) you start to realize the true value of good ball movement.  The simple fact is the ball travels faster during a pass than any player can run while dribbling.  Quick passing breaks down a defense allowing for open scoring opportunities.

3. Points Per Game is the Most Overrated Statistic in Sports

My Man Can Score But Does Not Pass.
My Man Can Score But Does Not Pass.

Yes, I said sports.  As in all sports that are played at a professional level.  The old points per game statistic is so misleading and does not really offer an true insight on a player without further context.  Let’s take Kobe Bryant’s last game in the NBA as an example.  Kobe has always been a controversial player with his tendency to take very tough shots over utilizing his teammates through good, wise, basketball decision-making.  And boy was his last game so…..Kobe.  Kobe scored an on the surface amazing 60 points against the Utah Jazz.  However, when you dig a bit deeper you realize he took 50 shots to score this many points, and made 22 of those attempts.  This ends up being a shooting percentage of 44%.  While this is not a bad shooting percentage it is also not great.  Worse is the fact that many of the shots he missed could have ended up being better opportunities to his teammates if he were more willing to move the ball.

The truth is that you as a basketball player should take a more holistic view of your performance on the court.  How many assists did you have,  Did you make good decisions, etc.?  As far as shooting and scoring is concerned, be more apt to consider your shooting percentages than points per game.  This will allow you to see trends in your shooting/scoring performance and allow you to plug any leaks in your offensive scoring game.

Have any other basketball wisdom to share?  Comment below!

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