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How to: Build a Winning Team


A magic formula for team success


In the early days of the NBA, the consensus was that a dominant big was essential to winning basketball games. As the decades went by however, it soon became evident a consummate   floor general was a must-have as well. Yet as the modern era drew closer, Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dynasty proved that you needed neither a traditional center nor a point guard to succeed, and the positionless marvels of today have taken that point even further.


Nowadays, in building winning teams, coaches care about more than just filling five traditional positions on the floor. Instead, they look for intangibles that can help a team to succeed and versatile skill sets that allow players to be interchangeable.


In terms of skills, winning teams have to be able to get it done on both ends of the court. On offense, the most important skill is the ability to pass the ball. Any amount of ball and player movement becomes pointless if there is one ball-hog on the floor with tunnel vision. Beyond that, every player should be able to shoot the ball in today’s game, thus allowing for proper spacing and more options on offense. This versatility should translate to defense too. Players must develop the requisite lateral speed and strength to be able to play both interior and perimeter defense. This will mitigate the exploitation of mismatches through plays such as the pick-and-roll.


Beyond just skills, winning teams must possess a healthy dose of mental toughness and values. Desire and willpower are the most salient attributes. Teams frequently win games because they fought harder and wanted it more, and continued to push even when their bodies do not feel like doing so. This is reflected in resilience and toughness too. Any defeat is a chance to learn about your flaws and get better, and should serve as motivation for the next game. Finally, selflessness is crucial in the game. The beauty of basketball is in sharing the good times and bad, trusting each other to fulfill your roles both on and off the court.