What do we mean by "the progression" of players?
Borrowing from Brett Ledbetter, we see progress as growth of character and 'ethos', and secondarily basketball development. It's rewarding to see confident adults, comporting themselves as thoughtful people, who look you in the eye with presence.
Players progress by understanding themselves as people and seeing the game. Excellent players determine their destiny. They fully engage, day after day. They win the sprints and don't take drills off.
Emotional maturity informs decision-making on and off the court. Self-control, self-discipline, and self-reflection accompany personal growth. More developed players recognize the multiple ways they can impact the game beyond scoring. Non-scorers can dominate games defensively or rebounding. I cannot emphasize this enough. Your contribution to team success is not necessarily a function of scoring.
The Lakers won 33 consecutive games and the NBA title in the 1971-1972 season. Wilt Chamberlain averaged 14.8 points per game, far below his career 30 points per game average but his overall contribution earned a championship.
The young player asks how she can improve. The mature player asks how she can contribute more to the team. More mature players solidify their strengths while compensating for weaknesses. Mature players understand situations, tempo, and intelligent risk taking. Experienced players rely on coaches and mentors to help them get where they want to go.
Experienced players play with purpose, eliminating wasted movement. There is more flow to their game and ability to maneuver off the catch quickly and decisively.
Advanced players disallow direct drives, discourage the dribble from making uncontested passes, get deflections and steals, take charges, play in space, take quality shots, don't get tied up, and support their teammates unfailingly.
But "the body of work" informs your play. Everyone has a bad game, including coaches.
You control your playing progression. Manage your attitude, your behavior, your effort, preparation, and study. Define your relationship with your craft. Or as Kevin Eastwood opines, "you are responsible for your paycheck."
How do you take care of your body, manage your diet, train consistently, and get rest? Do you handle family and academic responsibilities? The more mature athlete has refined a plan for global self-maintenance.
Progression is the sum of everything you do. You advance your athleticism, conditioning, skill, knowledge, attitude, and emotional makeup. The player with grit and continual ascension mindset surpasses those without drive and purpose.
Lagniappe: Larry Brown thoughts from Xavier newsletter.