Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Let's talk about Basketball Fallacies. There are certain things "we've always done", but are not necessarily still the most effective way to play the game. Regardless of what offense your team runs, you can improve your production this season by examining how often these three fallacies show up on your team.
Basketball Fallacy #1 You must have "numbers" to attack in transition
While this concept might make sense in theory, it's far from true in reality. We're significantly limiting our team's offensive effectiveness if we only allow them to attack in transition when we have a numbers advantage. Statistically speaking, offenses have the most success when they look to score during transition opportunities - when the defense is disorganized. According to Synergy Sports, there are currently 202 (out of 356) NCAA Division I men's basketball teams averaging at least 1.0 points per possession in transition. Compare that to just 17 teams that average at least 1.0 points per possession in the half-court! When we have numbers, deciding to attack is simple, but even if we don't have numbers, there are still opportunities to attack in transition to get easy buckets. Check out this example from Markelle Fultz.
Fultz is completely under control during the attack. What's key is he is attacking at a speed that is uncomfortable for the defense, giving him the opportunity to get all the way to a rim, even in a one on four situation.
When the entire team plays with this same mentality, there can be even more scoring opportunities. Defenders tend to lock their eyes on the ball even more often in transition, opening even more space to cuts to the rim. Just like Ja Morant in the clip below.
Basketball Fallacy #2 We should spend most of our time training 1-foot finishes
1-foot finishes. We all know them, and we all over-train them. Don't believe me? Think about the last pre-game routine your team went through. How many 1-foot layups were attempted? Now consider the best defensive team you'll play all season. How many 1-foot layup opportunities will you have against them? Regardless of the opponent, 1-foot finishes are inefficient, they rarely happen at the highest levels, and they don’t have the same balance or control as a 2-foot finish. Take a look at this first clip from Joe Harris.
This is a situation where most players (especially at levels like high school), would attempt to finish at the rim by going off of one foot. But by going off of two feet, Harris is able to absorb contact, and even adjust the location of the ball to avoid the rim-protecting defender.
Finishing off of two feet also allows the offense to "un-time" defenders and avoid a potential block completely. Check out the contrast in the next two clips. In the first one, the defender from West Virginia is able to easily time the block (notice how he re-times his steps by the three-point line); compared to how Zach LaVine keeps LaMarcus Aldridge guessing at the rim by going off of under control off of two feet.
Let's be clear, I'm not advocating that players should never go off of one foot at the rim. The key is to teach them to understand the why and the when. If your shot can be blocked or bothered, that's the opportunity to go off of two feet.
Basketball Fallacy #3 The point guard/best player must initiate the offense
Think about it. in nearly every middle school, high school, or AAU game, the offense gets started once the team's point guard or best player gets the offense started in non-transition possessions. However, at the highest levels, teams better understand how you finish a possession is more important than how you start it. Let's take the Washington Wizards for example. They've got great playmakers like Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Aaron Holiday on their roster. Yet many times they use undersized big man Montrezl Harrell to initiate the offense with dribble handoffs.
It's a simple action, but they get a different, high-quality look each time.
The Warriors are notorious for doing the same thing with Draymond Green. Even though they have a world-class player like Steph Curry, they'll put the ball in Draymond's hands and let Steph's defensive gravity draw a lot of attention away from the ball, opening up opportunities for other Warriors to get wide-open looks.
Next time you're looking for a new and efficient way to get great looks on offense, consider initiating the offense with a non-traditional player on your team. You might be surprised at the great looks you'll get!