Basketball: Getting Buckets! (1st Level)

To quote one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, Hall of Fame legend Bill Russell, “this game has always been, and will always be, about buckets.”

Mr. Russell was simply telling us to “get to the money!” So let’s get to it; I’ll explain.

A Simple Question 

I like to ask young players this simple question: What are you good at? In other words, what are your go-to moves? How do you get buckets?

Often times, these questions are met with a nervous grin, a shoulder shrug or the classic blank stare. I always follow these type of responses by asking the players to show me the easiest way they can score. Often times, it’s a hard right or left-hand dribble from the elbows to the rim, for others it’s a two dribble pull-up from the wing, or a good old-fashion jump hook in the lane. No wrong answers folks! This is what I call “1st level” scoring or as some might call, getting to your spots. How do I get to my spots?

Be Aggressive

Legendary basketball coach and mentor, John Wooden, always told his players to “be quick, but don’t hurry”. Sounds deep, but to its core, it is very straightforward.

Being aggressive doesn’t mean playing out of control or forcing shots.

Learning how to get to your spots fast and efficiently by exploiting poor defensive positioning and mismatches is exactly what Coach Wooden meant by being quick. Always look for opportunities to get to your spots because by doing so you keep the defense on their heels, you can gain confidence by taking high percentage shots and you may create opportunities for your teammates. My team wants to consistently push the ball in transition… What happens if I decide to take a few plays off?

Opportunity Cost (Transition)

In the game of basketball, each possession counts and coaches want players who can seize opportunities, especially on offense. Here are a few examples of how to do so in transition by using sprints.

  • Sprinting to the deep corners — this may put added pressure on the slower or bigger players and open the center court and lanes.
  • Sprinting down the center lane — this may collapse the guards to the middle, creating angle lanes from the elbows and wings directly to the rim for your teammates.
  • Sprinting towards the baseline and flashing high — this may lead to a back door cut or an opportunity for a teammate to set a up or down screen for you.

Failing to be proactive on offense and getting out in transition can lead to blown opportunities, that will more often than not it will it cost you, and it will cost your team.

Getting to Your Spots (1st Level)

Some of the best scorers to ever play the game have mastered this strategy and employ it to terrorize defenses by using their best offensive weapons as frequently as possible! Kevin Durant’s “Stop-and-Pop”, Diana Taurasi’s “Dribble-Drive”, Dirk Nowitzki’s “One-legged Fade-away” and of course, James Harden’s “Euro-Step” are a few great examples. 

When these players are struggling (which is few and far in between) they use their 1st level scoring for a quick spark or to score a game changing bucket in a deciding moment and so can a young, developing player. 

Remember to find out what you do well and do it often. Be aggressive and seize opportunities (the ones you create and those that are presented to you). Every player can have a positive impact on offense, one bucket at a time!

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