5 Things Youth Basketball Players Can Learn From the NBA Playoffs
Are you enjoying watching the NBA playoffs? I know I am, and I hope you are too. As a lifelong fan of the game of basketball, I watch basketball all the time merely for the excitement of the game. Watching the playoffs as they go along, and finding out who will be the season’s champion is fun for me. However, along with watching for fun, youth basketball players can learn a lot from watching NBA playoff games. If you are a player, here are five things you can take away from the NBA Playoffs. Where do you take them? You take them into your next basketball training session and identify what skills you want to work on with your trainer.
5. Basketball Truly is a Team Sport
The NBA loves to market individual players. Great players sell tickets, jerseys and get people watching games. Truthfully great players are exciting to watch. When I was a kid, Michael Jordan was the big superstar the NBA pushed as its main draw. Today, that player is Lebron James. But look at the teams in the playoffs, and look at some of the stars who are not there. Kevin Love and Anthony Davis are not in the playoffs this year. Even though these guys were 2 of only 5 players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, their teams were not good enough to make the playoffs. Another notable name missing this year is Carmelo Anthony. His New York Knicks did not make the playoffs, even though Carmelo was the league’s 2nd leading scorer and became just the first player in 11 seasons to average at least 27 points and 8 rebounds in a season. On the flip side of things, the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks both pushed championship contending teams to 7 games in the first round of the playoffs without an identifiable superstar on their rosters. Although great individual players can really make a difference in the game of basketball, at the end of the day one player doesn’t override team chemistry and overall great team play.
4. Champions Don’t Stay Discouraged
We generally think of the team that wins the playoff series to be “better” than the team that lost it. And that is generally true. But what does that “better” really mean? In the first round of the playoffs, only one series was a sweep, meaning one team won every game against the other one. Every other team that ended up winning lost at least one game in the series. Teams are so good in the NBA, and basketball is such a dynamic sport in general, that it is rare for one team to beat another team every time they play each other. But championship teams don’t stay discouraged. They know that just because they lost last night doesn’t mean they can’t win tomorrow night. In the history of the NBA, no team has completely swept through the entire playoffs without a loss, although some teams have gotten close. Good teams, and especially championship teams, are able to lose and shake the memory of that loss right off. As a youth basketball player, you should be the same way. Learn to not let the losses hit you so hard, and also don’t let the wins lift you too high. Stay even-keeled and keep fighting through your team’s schedule.
3. Winning Intensity is High Intensity
Teams in the NBA playoffs all have the same goal, and that is to win the NBA championship. When you watch the playoffs, watch how hard the players are playing. I want you to notice that winning basketball is played at a high intensity. To beat a team in the playoffs, you really have to beat them. Teams are not just going to lie down, as they’re all fighting to stay alive and advance. This being the case the winning teams have to pay hard and at their best. If you notice, a lot of the star players in the playoffs will increase their scoring and rebounding averages because they know this is true. Winning intensity is something all youth basketball players need to see and understand
2. Execution is Super Important!
As the playoffs get deeper and more teams get eliminated, teams become more evenly matched and you see less blowout victories and more close games. This year we even saw that in the first round. When you watch these close games, watch how important execution is at the end of them. Talented individuals playing erratically normally don’t win championships, because you can’t count on erratic behavior to win a close game. Teams that execute at the end, and talented players that execute, are the ones usually holding up the trophy in June. Things like getting a high percentage look at the basket, finishing defense possessions with rebounding, protecting the ball (no turnovers) and making free throws can be the difference between celebrating a championship and suffering ultimate heartbreak. You can ask the 2013 San Antonio Spurs about that – that one hurt me to watch. Youth basketball teams can see the importance of team execution, and also individual players can see the importance of being sound when it counts by watching the NBA playoffs.
1. It Is Hard Work to Achieve Basketball Success!
When is the last time your favorite team won the NBA Championship? My Houston Rockets last won 19 years ago, and they’ve only ever done it twice. When is the last time your favorite player won? If your favorite player is Lebron James, he’s won the past two seasons. But before that, he got to the Finals twice before and lost, and he didn’t win a championship during his first 8 seasons in the league. He’s considered to be one of the best players to ever play. The point to that is its hard work to achieve basketball success. Youth basketball players should notice how many teams have great players, great chemistry, are bouncing back from adversity, are playing hard and executing…. and still don’t end up as champions. Don’t forget that whoever ends up being champion is playing an extra two months of basketball past the end of the regular season as well. However, the team that does win does do the foundational things to win. They may have just executed better, had better chemistry, had the better player when all other things were equal, etc. Basketball is a fun and competitive sport, but just as with many things in life, it takes hard work to achieve success, and success is not guaranteed. But success can be achieved!
Youth basketball players, enjoy the NBA playoffs, and good luck to your team! Happy watching and ask your neighborhood basketball trainer any questions you may have on this.