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The Importance of Getting Players to Read and React

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Most of the best offensive players have amazing basketball minds. If you think about the different schemes that have been thrown at Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Lebron James and others it really puts in perspective how great they truly are with the ball in their hands or in the hands of teammates. 

This is brought up because the skill that these players best exhibit is their ability to simply read and react to what the defense throws at them.

For example, Kobe has the ball on the low post when a double team comes at him from the baseline side so he can't see it coming. Teams know that Kobe loves to shoot a fade-away from the baseline so they try to force him into something else. Kobe senses the double team coming and immediately reacts to what is thrown at him.

How do players develop those same mindsets? 

It doesn't come naturally to most players and that should be of some comfort but it does come only through experience. When I transitioned into point guard I had to have some players really teach me about ways to get others the ball and where to get them the ball.

It wasn't easy at all for me. One simple example was the first time I actually drove to the basket and help defense came over at me. Young players don't always worry about help defense but when you get older it is a huge deal.

As the help came over I saw the open shooter in the corner and got him the ball for a 3 pointer. Something clicked at that point for me. My mindset changed and I realized what I could do by simply learning to read and react. 

My next step in progression was planning and preparation. What would I do when a double team came at me? What would I do if I was struggling against ball pressure? I literally started planning and preparing for situations so that I could react when I saw it.

The more prepared I was the more I was able to prepare my teammates when the situation called for it. Players think Kobe just understands what to do when a double team comes at him but he had to learn in and go through the situations in his head and then in the games. Once that happened then it became easier and easier. 

Coaches need to take time during practices to go through these types of situations so players can learn to read and react when the situation calls for it. 

What are your thoughts?

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