Prioritize The Individual Over the Team This Off Season

From my playing days to my coaching and training days, I have been around the game of basketball a long time and I continue to be fascinated by how many people within the game operate. Seriously, the idea that prioritizing team play in the off season over individual skill development is warped. As the NBA playoffs roll on in a seemingly endless capacity, it has become very apparent that the most skilled players are the biggest assets to their team and often those teams are the most successful. Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the list goes on. What was more glaring to me was how much a lack of one particular skill (a jump shot) cost, arguably, the most talented starting five in basketball a shot at advancing. Yes, I’m talking about Ben Simmons and Sixers. Here is a guy who has some how managed to become an NBA All Star and won’t (and I do mean won’t) take a jump shot in a game. It’s embarrassing and like playing 4 on 5 on the offensive side of the ball every time down the floor. Beyond that, it is a horrible look and a terrible example for all young players out there with aspirations of playing at a higher level. Based on this, they are probably thinking that they don’t have to develop a jumper to be good. They could not be further from wrong. The teams with the most skilled players win games. Especially those with players who can shoot.

Basketball Skill Development for Leonard and Antetokounmpo Have Made Them Two of the Greatest in the Game

Damian Lillard nailed a three pointer from 37 feet out to win the last game of the first round series for Portland. Kawhi hit a fade away jumper to eliminate those very Sixers in the second round. Steph Curry, has been making it rain from three point land since Durant went down. This is not by accident. Off season skill development to these players is an absolute priority. Take Kawhi Leonard for example. Kawhi did not have much more than a mid-range jump shot when he first came into the league. Credit his commitment to excellence and the Spurs organization for breaking it down and forcing him to build up the correct form in close before improving his range. Now he shoots threes with proficiency and is considered by many to be the best two way player in the NBA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is another great example. Granted, he┬ástill doesn’t have much of a three point shooting game but teams are beginning to realize that he can hit them if he is left open. Now defenses can no longer just back off him and protect against a dunk. They have to at least respect his jumper by playing him close, ultimately making his drives more effective.

These two players committed to basketball skill development in the off season and have ultimately improved an aspect of their game that was a weakness. The result is a head to head meeting in the conference finals and serious consideration for both as the best player in the game. Sorry Ben Simmons, maybe if you dedicated just a tiny bit of time to that faulty jumper of yours, you and your highly talented team would still be playing. It would appear that your priorities were a little bit off but don’t worry, you’re young and there is still time to make some changes.

No X’s and O’s This Off Season. Only Me.

Coaches and players not focusing on basketball skill development in the off season, it is time to change. Stop prioritizing game play and x’s and o’s during the summer months. Reflect on your players, understand their strengths and attack their weaknesses with abandon. Stop playing in every tournament you can find and start focusing on individual skill development. The great players of the game always, always, always add a wrinkle to their game in the off season and that is why their teams are consistently the best in basketball. Don’t you think it is time for you to do the same as well? Develop your players when the lights are off and I guarantee you they’ll perform better when the lights are the brightest.

Contact Rich Stoner today to start your New Jersey based basketball skill development program and I’ll have you on the road to basketball success.

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