Saturday, June 3, 2017
Basketball Risk Management
Players do not emerge crafted like Botticelli's Venus. They gradually absorb hard-won lessons from success and failure. They must understand 'intelligent risk' within a team concept. Basketball IQ and risk management converge but are not identical. Basketball IQ grows with know that and matures with know how and know when.
Example: Coming out of a timeout, Team A leads by one with 31 seconds remaining (30 second shot clock) with possession. Two players on the floor (including the point guard) are excellent free throw shooters, two are good, one is fair. The coach needs to decide whether to replace the worst shooter, and the players must understand that fouling is likely and who should have the ball. They must also understand that they don't have to score to win, but they must maintain possession. Risk management has multiple dimensions.
This missive is necessarily a survey and incomplete.
Passing. Every pass has a risk-reward component.
3 is closely guarded and the post fully fronted. All 3 must recognize the risk-benefit of "forcing" the pass versus making the hockey assist with 'seal on swing'. When 'set up' this situation as in a chess game (chunking for board recognition), most young players don't 'see' this.
The high ball screen presents multiple options...the defender x2 determines the PG (1) decision. In the NBA, most teams disallow the high percentage "corner 3". The passer must recognize and execute, the quarterbacks of the Association.
Understand higher risk passes.
Spacing helps manage risk. Against the 2-3 zone, when players space better, they reduce the risk of deflections/interceptions.
When teams habitually run offense from the side, they change the game to 3 against 5 creating unfavorable risk-reward.
The wing-to-top pass is one of the riskiest in basketball. How often do we see this intercepted and converted into a layup? Players need to see opportunity in back door cuts instead of risk.
Shot selection. Risk management is paramount in shot selection. Players may not want to hear it, but the best scorers should get the most shots. "They don't give everyone the same amount of bullets in war." Even then, every player needs situational awareness as well as understanding what is a good shot for every other player.
Offensive rebounding strategy. Do you send more players to the glass and increase offensive rebounds or fewer and lessen scores in transition? Do you change this with both opponent and situation?
Even great teams and great players make critical risk management errors.
Turnovers. An errant high risk pass forty feet from the basket is different than a 'look ahead' pass that leads to a layup if completed. A good passer makes a bad pass when she passes to a teammate with 'stone hands'. Players must know how to shorten the pass, pass away from defenders, and see the help defenders.
Foul trouble. Players need to understand how and when to 'foul for profit'. Coaches can win or lose games by substitution or lack thereof in foul trouble.
Gambling on defense. Defensive gambling might mean going for a steal, trying to take a charge, or going for a block. So often I see players foul players taking "bad shots" or perimeter shots. Don't beat yourself.
Hack-a-thon. There's risk management applied in "Hack-a-Shaq".
Timeouts. Players and coaches need to understand the philosophies behind using and saving timeouts. Saving a timeout and losing during a "run" is fool's gold. We played a game this season where a coach used all his timeouts in the first half avoiding held balls. That cost his team dearly down the stretch.
Dribble dabble and playing the lines. I don't want players purposelessly dribbling, getting trapped in "primary trap zones" (where endlines and sidelines intersect), or dribbling out near the timeline where they risk 'over-and-back' violations. There's no excuse available or acceptable.
Basketball is a game of possessions (how many) and possession (execution). Risk management separates the basketball wheat from the chaff.