Watch Playoff Games Like A Basketball Trainer
Spring time always brings us great basketball. Between February and June, basketball fans are treated to the high school basketball playoffs, the NCAA Tournament, and the NBA Playoffs. The NBA features the highest level of basketball play, and the playoffs are where elite teams and players bring elite intensity and focus. As a basketball fan, it is usually fun to watch all of the games and players, but youth basketball players can learn a few things about the game by intently watching certain players. Imagine if you watched games like a basketball trainer does. Here’s a quick list of some players to watch this postseason.
Player: JJ Redick
Position: Shooting Guard
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
What to Watch: Off-Ball Movement
JJ Redick is one of the best shooters in the NBA, and he has mastered the art of moving without the ball. JJ is better at catching and shooting than creating his own shot off the dribble, so it is important for him get open and be ready to shoot on the catch. When you watch JJ on offense, watch for two things. One is how he uses off-ball screens. JJ is really good at setting his defender up for the screen and watching how they play him to determine what cut he makes off that screen. Depending on how he’s being defended, JJ will either curl or fade, making sure to cut explosively either way. Once he gets himself open, watch how JJ catches the ball. He is almost always ready to shoot as soon as the ball hits is fingers. He utilizes a jump-stop catch on fade cuts and a 1-2 catch on curl cuts. If he doesn’t catch the ball with enough space to shoot, he has also mastered the skill of taking one dribble and going right into a pull-up jumpshot. What he does sounds easier than it really is, so you shooters out there make sure you watch him carefully to pick up the nuances of getting open without the ball.
Player: Tony Parker
Position: Point Guard
Team: San Antonio Spurs
What to Watch: Pick and Roll
Tony Parker is clearly one of the best point guards in the NBA, and he is also one the most efficient ones. He consistently shoots right at around 50% on field goal attempts, which is an amazing number for a point guard. He achieves this efficiency in part by being excellent off the pick and roll. Because he can use it well, he doesn’t have to work as hard as some other guards in order to get a decent shot off. Tony is quick, but he is not as explosively athletic as some others. He is effective in the pick and roll because of how he sets defenders up. The thing to watch with Mr. Parker is that he generally makes no secret that he is about to get into the pick and roll. He uses his screening teammate as someone his defender has to also worry about. Whereas a lot of guards see the screen and immediately attack it, Tony reads how his defender is going to respond to the impending screen. He is equally as effective rolling tight off his screening teammate’s shoulder or turning down the screen and exploding in the opposite direction. When he comes off the shoulder using the screen, he is great at knocking down the pull-up jumper if the roller isn’t open. When turning the screen down he is still explosive and still cognizant of his screening teammate, who he is able to hit many times with an overhead pass for an open jumper. A lot of times this is Tim Duncan knocking the jumper down. Definitely watch Tony Parker this offseason if you want to learn better how to use the pick and roll.
Player: Zach Randolph
Position: Power Forward
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
What to Watch: Offensive Post Game
NBA veteran Zach Randolph has one of the best post games in the league. While he has never been considered one of the best athletes at his position (he rarely dunks), he has been able to average over 17 points per game in his career. When you watch Zach, also affectionately known as Z-Bo, watch for two things. When he receives the ball with his back to the basket, he is generally able to make quick decisions. Watch how often he goes to score using two dribbles or less, and when he does go to shoot, watch how quickly he gets off the floor. Although Zach could be considered relatively undersized and not a “great” athlete, he is able to be very effective in the post because of quick decisions, using his body to protect the ball and being explosive off the ground. When Zach receives the ball and faces up, watch how he utilizes the face-up jump shot to open up his game. Since defenders know Zach is willing to take (and capable of making) that jumpshot, he’s able to use a pump fake to get defenders in the air and then drive to the basket. You young big men can learn a lot from watching Zach Randolph this postseason.
While you’re enjoying the NBA playoffs, take the time to mix a little business with pleasure. Try to pick up on one or two things from these players that you can use to enhance your game, whether it is moving without the ball, using the pick and roll or scoring in the post. Enjoy the playoffs and remember to never stop learning as you take in all of this great basketball. Why not take your wish list of skill development to your basketball trainer and ask for his / her help.