Most of the time a basketball player associates their worth to the team by how many points they are able to score or what they can tangibly do for the team like; rebounding, blocking shots, assists, etc. However, a team isn’t going to be very successful if there are not players that are consciously looking to create scoring opportunities for their teammates (this doesn’t just mean being the player that gets the assist by making the last pass before the shot either).
Most of the time this is not a glorious role and a lot of these plays will go unnoticed by the average fan. Your coach and team will know though how important these types of plays are, and the end result will be more playing time for you. And even more importantly, you will be able to help your team win games.
Here are 5 ways that you can use to be able to help create scoring opportunities for your teammates.
Set Good Screens
There are two types of screens in basketball that you can set for your teammates; on the ball screens and off the ball screens. Both of these kinds of screens are great for getting a teammate an open look at a shot, but they are only effective if the screener commits to setting a great screen. When you come to set the screen, you need to actively be looking to make contact with the defender and to be willing to sacrifice your body for a teammate. Make sure that you are set when making contact on the screen, but you need to make a conscious effort to “headhunt” the defender to make sure that you make contact with them.
Setting a good screen can also be a great way to get a shot for yourself as well. Once you set a great screen, you are going to react. Depending on how your teammates uses your screen you are going to space, roll, re-screen, etc. If you are able to set great screens and read the defense correctly, you will find yourself getting a lot of high quality shots and finishes.
The best offense is when the ball is able to touch the paint. From here it can be finished or kicked out to a teammate for a shot, swing pass, or another penetration. A great way to get the offense flowing it to be able to drive to the paint and then kick out to a teammate. This doesn’t mean though that you are going to catch the ball and take 10 dribbles trying to break your man down. However, if you do have a driving angle take it and force the defense to heop. From here you can then kick the ball out to an open teammate or dump off to a post player.
When you drive to the basket you need to be under control. Don’t leave your feet on the pass or let your momentum carry you into a potential charge situation. After you kick the ball out, don’t stand. Relocate and get ready in case the ball is kicked out to you on someone else’s dribble penetration..
There are some really good basketball drills that you can do to practices this type of action. One of them is having 1-2 partners standing outside the 3 point line with one basketball between them. One player is going to drive hard to the basket, jump stop, and then kick the ball out to one of the open teammates. After they kick the ball out, they must immediately relocate while the next player drives the ball. Once there has been 2-3 hard drives and kick outs, one of the players will shoot the ball. If there are 2 other passers available they will pass a ball to the other 2 partners for a shot as well.
Make the Extra Pass
There will be times in a game when you have the opportunity to turn down an okay shot for a teammate to get a great shot. It takes a lot of character and trust to be able to pass up a good shot for another teammate to shoot a great sho. Being able to do this will really help the offense run more smoothly and help the team get higher percentage shots. Hopefully it will also help encourage your teammates to do the same for you when you have a better shot than they do.
Most players don’t realize that just by cutting hard to the basket they can get a teammate a good shot. The reason that this will open up a shot is because the defense has to respect you as a cutter. They must help on the cut or give up a great look. Forcing the defense to have to help on your cut allows your teammates the space to get a quality shot off.
If you only cut at half speed or cut to the basket without being a threat to score, you will not put the defense in a situation where they must help. So regardless of whether you are designed to get the ball on the cut or not, always cut to score and make yourself a threat to the defense.
Sprint the Floor
Whether you get the ball or not in transition, it is important that you sprint the floor and stay spaced. By sprinting the floor you force the defense to account for you. Sometimes you will get the ball and you can take the shot, but sometimes just the fact that you are sprinting hard opens up a teammate for a shot or finish. This will never happen though if you are not committed to sprinting the floor every time.
That is why it is important to practice sprinting your hardest during practice or basketball training. It is not just about conditioning when you have to run, train yourself to be as fast as you can and add value to your game.
Doing all of these things takes a conscious effort and even though you may never get noticed by the people that fill the stands for doing them, it will be invaluable to your team’s success. Your coaches and teammates will recognize it, and it will make you a better player.
This article was written by Basketball HQ co-founder Kyle Ohman. Kyle is a skill development trainer in Tampa, FL that has worked with multiple college and professional players.