How to impact a game without taking a single shot
The longstanding coaches’ adage that “there is only one ball” is a subtle hint to most players to work on other aspects of their games. We often think that basketball is simply won by the side that scores the most points, but there are less salient factors that can impact how this battle plays out. As every player will have to spend more time without the ball than with it, we all have to learn to carve out our own niche on the court. Here are some less heralded ways:
Screens: The crux of modern offenses is forcing rotations and mismatches, and the high pick-and-roll has become the weapon of choice for many teams. By learning to set good solid screens that the defenders cannot fight through, you create space and bountiful opportunities for your team. Chicago Bulls rookie Wendell Carter is adept at this, earning minutes through his silent but solid play.
Energy: It seems a given that every player should give their utmost effort every second on the floor, but unfortunately this rarely seems to be the case. When you do see a player with this level of energy, they often stand out to everyone in the crowd. Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers is a prime example, appearing all over the court, seemingly guarding every player and battling it out for every rebound.
Boxing out: A lot of the glitz and glamour in rebounding happens way above the rim, as an athletic specimen snags the ball out of mid-air. The true skill and hard work in rebounding happen right at the start however, with good box-out technique. A defensive player who is able to prevent his man from getting near the ball will help to ensure that his team gets the rebound, even if he does not do so himself. Steven Adams is a master at this, contributing to a lot more of the Thunder’s rebounds than what shows up on the stat sheet.