By Mike Procopio
Director of Baskeball Skill Development
It's interesting to go from scouting, watching, and working out pro players to then watching and trying to evaluate high school kids. Take away the size, age, strength, and athleticism. The game is much simpler. For the most part the pro game is more to the point than the college or high school game. There are only one or two players that dominate the ball with the dribble. Now there will always be players like Allen Iverson, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, and Gilbert Arenas who do a lot of dribbling and generate offense with it. If you watch some of the great players most of what they do is with one or two dribbles. They have grace and are extremely athletic and talented, but when it comes to getting the job done they make their offensive moves with one or two dribbles.
Take for instance our most famous client, Michael Jordan. It's interesting to watch him in interviews and read his quotes about his own game. He states many times that his goal when he wanted to make a play was to get to the elbow when he caught the ball on the wing. If you watch a lot of his clutch performances, or just his mid range game in general, a lot of his offense came from driving to the elbow. He says that it didn't matter how loud the arena was, how tough the double team was, or how important the basket was that he always focused on getting to the elbow. I'm not going to sit here and dissect Michael's game. But, if you watched him play and take away the high flying dunks and graceful plays you will see that Michael didn't waste much movement when it came to his offense. He didn't over dribble that whatever move he was going to use that he usually got the job done in one or two dribbles.
For any wing player it doesn't matter if you are a point guard, shooting guard or small forward downgrade the dribble. Make the game a chess match. See how your defender plays you set them up with one move see how they react and then you react to them. Your ultimate goal would be to catch the ball wide open for an open jump shot. If you see that you are guarded then set up your defender on a jab or fake, if they go for it then you open up your drive to the basket or your one/two dribble pull up. This game isn't difficult. Your high school coach, college scouts, and NBA Scouts want to see players that have simple games. They want to see players that are smart and can get the job done with the least possible resistance. People watching you don't want to see you dribbling out the shot clock on every possession watching your four teammates watching you. Today's great players D Wade, Kobe, Dirk, Paul Pierce, are the same way. They make an initial move and react on how they are being played and go the opposite way their defender reacts to them. They can all take the ball to the basket, but also have great mid range games and can read their defenders and set them up to create space for their shot.
I see a lot of literature about 25 ways to create space, 40 ways to get open, 50 ways to score on the jab. Technically they are right, there are many ways to score and create opportunities, but in reality there are three. Shooting the open shot, going right, and going left are the three ways to score on anything. While you are by yourself get a lot of spot up shots, work on your one/two dribble drive right, and your one/two dribble drive going left. Obviously you know how to drive all the way to basket, that's a read on your part. You know when you can drive all the way to the rim, and also its one of the most common move in basketball everyone can do it. What is a lost part of the game is one and two dribble drive mid range offense. If you really want to become a great player at your level work on that. Don't work on putting the ball through your legs 5 times step back three point shots. Your coaches and teammates don't want to see that, yeah it's always nice to be able to make a move like that on a last second desperation, but in the flow of the game you'll be more valuable to your team to be able to have simple offense.
My next article will be for post players. Good luck with your games, if we can ever help you in any way please don't hesitate to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Procopio is The Director of Basketball Skill Development for ATTACK Athletics. His boss, Tim Grover, (President ATTACK Athletics) was Michael Jordan's Personal Trainer for over 15 years. ATTACK trains over 25 NBA players during their off season as well as preparing top college players every spring for the NBA Draft. Some of their clients include Dwyane Wade, Michael Finley, Shaun Livingston, Juwan Howard, Q Richardson, Eddy Curry, and many more. Mike also runs ATTACK Skills Clinics, which is a high school and junior high school basketball training company as well as being an NBA Scout for the Boston Celtics for four years. Visit their website at www.attackskillsclinics.com