Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
There’s been a lot of talk about last night’s Miami Heat overtime win over the Indiana Pacers but very people are mentioning the great sideline out of bounds play (SLOB) that was called by Coach Erik Spoelstra. First of all, the exact same set was run at the end of the fourth quarter and the result was a wide open 3 point attempt by Ray Allen, which had to be in the back of the Pacers’ minds as everyone was getting lined up in the same set at the end of overtime. Secondly, the play had multiple options – Ray Allen in the corner, LeBron at the top of the key, Chris Bosh coming off a back pick going to the rim, and even possibly Ray Allen isolated against the opposing center if the defense chose to switch the back pick. Even the slightest hesitation by any of the defenders was going to result in a shot by one of the Heat’s three best players on the floor (Dwyane Wade had fouled out on the previous play) and that’s exactly what happened!
The players who successfully execute the plays get all the credit in situations like this, as they should. But let’s not forget that it’s often times the coach who puts those players in a position to succeed.
In the diagrams below Ray Allen is the 2, LeBron James is the 3, and Chris Bosh is the 5 as the play’s main options. Mario Chalmers is the 1 and Shane Battier is the 4.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
I just finished reading “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable” by Tim Grover, and I must admit that it’s one of the best books that I have read in a long time.
Grover, who got his start by being Michael Jordan’s personal trainer, now works with athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and dozens of others.
Over the years he has discovered that there are some very distinct personality traits that separate the good, the great , and the unstoppable and this book is essentially a description of those traits.
Although it is not written solely for the basketball community, I really believe it is a book that should be read by every basketball coach and player who has aspirations of taking their careers to another level.
The language is a little rough in spots but that shouldn’t overshadow any of the ideas or principles in the book.
I think it might take a few blog posts to share all the highlights of the book, but I’m certainly going to try. here are the first several takeaways:
- Being the best means engineering your life so you never stop until you get what you want, and then you keep going until you get what’s next. And then you go for even more.
- It’s time to stop listening to what everyone else says about you. Let them judge you by your results and nothing else. If you’re relentless, there is no halfway, no could or should or maybe.
- Decide. Commit. Act. Succeed. Repeat.
- Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more. You must do more.
- Success isn’t the same as talent. The world is full of incredibly talented people who never succeed at anything. They show up, do what they do, and if it doesn’t work out, they blame everyone else because they believe talent should be enough. It’s not. If you want to be truly successful, you can’t be content with “pretty good.” You need to find an extra gear.
These ideas came from the first half of the first chapter – there’s lots of great stuff in there!
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
It’s hard not to root for Mark Jackson and his Golden State Warriors. I also love watching Steph Curry shoot the ball.
With that said, I’ve always been a big fan of Denver’s long time coach George Karl.
He doesn’t try to control every possession, is not boastful when he wins and is always gracious when he loses.
I was really hoping the Nuggets would complete their comeback last night and force a game 7.
After losing in the first round I’m sure there will be some who will want to see the Nuggets get a new coach but I hope that doesn’t happen.
Here’s some timeless advice from Coach Karl that was published in The Ultimate Coaches’ Career Manual by Pat Williams:
- Communicate and connect. There is a difference. If you can connect you have an edge over just communication. Connecting involves a heart to heart relationship. It involves the human side of your involvement with your players.
- Associate with people who will make you better.
- Have a positive attitude every day. Forget what happened the day before and focus on the new day. All of your players are members of your family and they will be whatever your attitude is
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry came into the NBA as a highly touted guard with the natural ability to shoot the basketball. Still, there were questions about Curry, son of former NBA veteran Dell Curry.
He put up big numbers in college at Division I Mid-Major Davidson and led the Wildcats on a magical run in the NCAA tournament, but would those skills translate to the daily grind of the NBA? Was Curry ultimately more suited to be an NBA shooting guard or a point guard?
Since being drafted by the Warriors in 2009, he has rapidly answered most, if not all the questions concerning his potential as an elite NBA player and shooter.
Other than a lockout-shortened and injury plagued 2011-12, Curry’s numbers have consistently progressed in his four seasons in the NBA. The 2012-13 campaign was his best so far. Taking on the role of Warriors point guard, he averaged career highs in points (22.9) and assists (6.9). He also set a new NBA season record for 3-pointers made with 272, shooting 45 percent from downtown.
What makes Curry an elite shooter and scorer in the NBA?
1. Strong Fundamentals
The most important thing about being a good shooter is proper fundamentals. It goes beyond putting the ball in the basket. Proper mechanics helps a player simplify their shot and get it off quickly. It also conserves energy and allows the player to shoot as well in the final minutes as he does in the first quarter.
Curry’s mechanics are as good as anyone’s. His feet are always squared up and aligned toward the hoop, even when coming off the dribble. His shooting motion is fluid and just as important it’s consistent. Having the same release point, the proper elbow position, his fingers, not his palm, guiding the ball each time allows him to develop a shooter’s touch and almost unlimited range.
2. High Basketball IQ
Even during his days at Davidson, Curry was known for having a high basketball IQ. It helped him to make the transition from shooting guard to point guard during his college career. Many pre-draft scouting reports questioned if he could continue his growth at point guard in the NBA, but he has proven that he can still maintain his scoring average while successfully running the offense. He knows how to shake defenders by coming off ball screens and changing speeds. He also has the ability to play with poise while playing against different defensive looks and rotating defenders.
3. Athletic Ability
Some scouts considered Curry slender and undersized coming out of college and questioned his stamina and ability to be anything more than a spot-up shooter. Not only can he get his shot off over defenders, has the quickness to drive into the lane if they face him up too closely. His athletic ability combined with his knowledge of the game makes him dangerous from anywhere on the floor. It has made Curry one of the NBA’s most entertaining players.
Personally, I have seen Stephen Curry emerge as an elite player. Guarding him in practice convinced me that he could shoot the basketball better than anyone in the country. Being considered as one of the quickest and best defenders, Curry’s release was un-guardable. His work-ethic consisted of not compromising on his shooting form but shooting the basketball the same way each time. He had to shoot a thousand shots per day in college. This kind of work-ethic is what makes players unique.
About the author: Lamar Hull is a former NCAA college basketball player who also played on the European professional circuit. He now writes for Direct2tv. He also has a huge interest in teaching basketball to others. You can also find out more information about Lamar at inspirationalbasketball.com.
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
As mentioned here in an earlier post, the use of advanced analytics is becoming more and more popular as teams are constantly looking for effective competitive advantages.
Kirk Goldsberry and Eric Weiss of Harvard University recently presented a paper at the Sports Analytics Conference that summarizes two case studies that they used to measure interior (post) defense in the NBA.
The studies essentially track and measured two things: 1) How many shots were taken when a specific defender was within 5 feet and 2) What were the shooting percentages of those shots.
The results suggest that Dwight Howard of the Lakers is the biggest deterrent in the NBA – opponents just don’t shoot the ball very often when he is in anywhere close to them.
However, Larry Sanders of the Bucks appears to be the best interior defender as opponents only make 34.9% of their shots whenever he is within 5 feet of them.
On the other end of the spectrum, offensive players shoot 54.2% when Anderson Varejao is “protecting” the basket.
While this information may not apply directly to your own team, it does give us another way to evaluate post defense -are our post players good defenders, bad defenders, or deterrents?
To see the entire Goldsberry and Weiss paper and to dive into more basketball studies similar to this one visit Sloan Sports Conference.
Monday, February 18th, 2013
Players of all ages and at all levels often aspire to make the All Star team. Some see it as a badge of honor and as being recognized for a job well done.
Others use the potential possibility of being named an All Star as an extra boost of motivation to work hard and stay focused.
Whatever the reason, if you want to make the All Star team you must make sure that you DO NOT play like an All Star!
If you watched Sunday night’s NBA All Star game then you know exactly what I am talking about.
No close-outs, no ball pressure, centers with no range firing up 3 pointers, uncontested shot after uncontested shot, the lane opening up like the Red Sea on every drive to the basket, no one running hard in either direction, no fouls, no steals, very little passing, etc.
Entertaining – yes, at times. Real basketball – not even close! In fact, if you play that way you’ll be lucky to make most middle school teams!
Is it too much to ask that the best players on the planet actually play hard and really compete against one another?
As a real fan I don’t want to watch a two hour dunk contest disguised as a game.
I want to watch great players getting after it, sharing the ball, playing some defense, and actually competing.
I want to be able to tell my sons that if they just play as hard as the All Stars then they’ll be all right when it comes to their own teams.
I’ve been thinking that maybe the NBA should take the same approach that Major Leage Baseball takes – the division (league) that wins the All Star game gets home court advantage during the finals.
Make the game worth something and maybe the players will play harder.
Until then, if you want to make the All Star team, don’t play like an All Star!
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
If you have turned on ESPN even once in the last week or so you know that today is Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday.
It also happens to be the anniversary of possibly the greatest NBA All Star Weekend performance in history.
In 1988 All Star Weekend was held in Chicago and Jordan definitely took advantage of performing on his home court.
On Saturday he won his second straight Slam Dunk Contest and then proceeded to dominate the actual game on Sunday.
During that game, in which the East won 138-133, MJ scored 16 points in the final 5:51 to seal the win and to bring his scoring total to 40. (In 1962 Wilt Chamberlain scored 42 points and hold the All Star Game scoring record.)
However, Jordan also had eight rebounds, three assists, and four blocked shots and proved to everyone that he was much more than a scorer.
Later that season, Jordan was awarded the first of his five NBA MVP awards in and was also named the 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year.
Besides leading the league in scoring with a 35.0 scoring average, MJ also lead the NBA with 40.4 minutes played per game and 3.2 steals per game.
Every year the NBA All Star Weekend gets more and more hype and media coverage but so far no one has been able to match Michael Jordan’s performance 25 years ago.
Happy 50th birthday Michael. We all hope you have 50 more!
Friday, December 28th, 2012
Despite losing to the LA Lakers in a nationally televised game on Christmas Day, the New York Knicks are off to their best start in years and may have many casual fans wondering why. It’s fairly easy to think “They are just playing better,” and while that is partly true, there are four very specific reasons behind the Knicks success so far. The best part is that if you happen to be a coach, these four factors can help your team win more games as well.
1. Guards are better.
Last season Jeremy Linn and “Linsanity” took New York by storm but what did it really accomplish in the long run? Sure, it was fun to watch at times, the Knicks did sell thousands of Jeremy Lin game jerseys, and even Lin eventually ended up with a fat $25 million contract over three years. However, none of those things really translated into more wins.
This year, on the other hand, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton may not sell a single jersey between the two of them but both have been spectacularly solid game in and game out. Their contributions don’t always show up on the stat sheet but passing the ball quickly ahead on the fast break, getting the ball to whomever happens to be the current “hot hand,” and delivering passes right to the shot pocket of a shooter all silently influence the outcome of nearly every game.
2. Fewer turnovers.
Not only have the Knicks decreased their number of turnovers but they are currently on pace to set the all time NBA record for fewest turnovers in a season! That means that everything else being equal, the Knicks are getting more shots than their opponents and are also reducing the number of opportunities that those opponents have to get a quick steal and transition layup.
When Paul Westhead first introduced his fast break to the Lakers back in the 80’s he used to say that if his team could get 100 shots a game they would win. They didn’t even have to be good shots, just 100 shots! Reducing turnovers gets a team more shots and if that team gets a lot more shots than its opponent then they don’t have to shoot quite as good of a percentage in order to score more points.
3. Increased 3 Point Shooting Percentage.
Not only have the Knicks increased the number of three point shots they are attempting but they have increased their three point shooting percentage as well. In fact, they are currently on track to set NBA records in both of these areas! Combine their number of three point attempts with a great shooting percentage and a miniscule number of turnovers and it’s easy to see how the Knicks are winning games possession by possession. In other words, they are getting more shots, making more shots, and more of those shots are threes!
4. Have a Defensive Stopper.
Namely Tyson Chandler, who might be the most underrated player in the NBA. Chandler, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year does all the necessary dirty work in and around the paint and can positively impact the game without ever touching the ball. However, this year Chandler is also shooting field goals at an amazing 70% which makes him a legitimate scoring threat inside and helps open up the outside for the Knicks three point shooters. On top of that, he has an uncanny ability to tip errant rebounds out to the perimeter and into the waiting arms of his teammates. There’s no official stat for that but some games he is giving his team an extra four or five offensive possession.
So let’s sum this up – better guard play, few turnovers, increased shooting percentage, and a defensive stopper that can get your team even more offensive possessions to work with – and you have the New York Knicks formula for success.
Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Longtime NBA coach Larry Brown is now back in the college ranks as the new head coach at Southern Methodist University and already knows how he is going to deal with any and all parental involvement.
According to an article in the September/October issue of Winning Hoops magazine Coach Brown says:
” I have a rule about parents. If it’s related to a personal issue, academics, a summer job or how I can help their son in the off-season, then my door is open. But if it’s a basketball issue, and John Calipari gave me this one – I give them “the Heisman” (as Brown tucks one arm under his rib cage and extends the other to fend off the parent). They (parents) have to trust me and our staff that we are going to do the right thing to make their son better.”
Monday, September 3rd, 2012
Over the past few months I have read two books (“The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle, and “Talent is Overrated,” by Geoffrey Colvin) that have discussed how and why great performers reach the pinnacle of their chosen fields. One such reason is the vast amount of hours these performers devote to deliberate and purposeful practice.
However, another reason is that they are usually surrounded by excellence and get to rub shoulders with other hard working, dedicated, high achievers. Athletes, musicians, computer programmers and even scientists have all benefitted greatly from living in an atmosphere of greatness. Watching like minded people who have already reached a certain level of success conduct their personal and professional lives almost always seems to benefit everyone involved.
For example, notice how many world, Olympic, and personal records are set during the upcoming Summer Olympics. Living in the Olympic Village and constantly interacting with a myriad of the world’s best athletes is going to have a tremendous effect on many and is sure to produce several record breaking performances.
Fully realizing the power behind a strong example, the leaders of USA Basketball are taking deliberate steps to ensure the success of the next generation of American world class basketball players. In an article called “The Team Behind The Dream Team,” written by Brett Koremenos on May 30, 2012 and posted on Yahoo Sports, we can see the importance of leadership in action.
“While so much credit is given to coaches helping players reach the pinnacle of self-actualization, it could be argued that peer influence has a much greater effect on player’s career arc. Young draft picks surrounded by solid professionals seem to have a much better chance at reaching their ceilings than those put in organizations loosely bordering on an asylum. The Select Team being paired with Team USA during training creates a guild of sorts where players normally opposing each other are allowed to see how their counterparts prepare. (And before you go on thinking this is a bunch of nonsense, just ask Jared Dudley about the off-court influence that Grant Hill and Steve Nash have had on him.)
For the young players on the squad, most of whom are still finding their footing as professionals; it’s the Chameleon Effect at its finest. After all, much of our social interaction is guided by mimicry. For years our mannerisms have been affected by the visual cues we’ve received from groups we’ve associated with. The callow youngsters in this training camp are no exception to this. Many across the league have surely heard of Kobe Bryant’s insane work ethic, but to see him finishing up a pre-practice workout that started at 6 a.m. drenched in sweat is most likely an eye-opening experience.”
If you are a coach you have a responsibility to create a culture within your program that fosters and rewards hard work and achievement. It needs to be a place where excellence is expected and everyone is pushed higher and higher by their peers. If you are a player, seek out the best players in your area even if they don’t attend your school. Watch and learn everything you can from them – how they prepare, how they practice, how they eat, etc. Remember, that success can be duplicated; all it takes is a great example and a lot of hard work.