As a player you should not just work on scoring. You should not measure your worth to your team by how many points you score. That being said, the way you win a game is to score more points than the other team, and the big time players are getting paid to score the basketball.
So what is it that makes the elite players so good at scoring the basketball? What all is involved in becoming a great basketball scorer? Obviously most of them are naturally gifted, hard workers, etc. but the reason they are such good scorers is versatility.
In every player’s game they are going to have strong areas and weak areas. However the goal is to turn as many weak areas as you can into strengths. When Jordan came into the league his critics claimed that he didn’t have a good enough jump shot so he worked on it, and today he is known as one of the best pure scorers of all time. That was one of his weaknesses that he turned into a strength of his game.
Do not be a one dimensional player. What I mean by this is don’t be just a catch and shoot player of don’t be just a driver. If you can only do one thing then you will be easy to guard. As a player early in my career I was mainly known as a catch and shoot player, but one summer I made it a point that I was really going to do ball handling drills and work on finishing at the basket. For the whole summer I worked on these types of basketball drills, and I saw my points per game average almost double the next season.
It wasn’t because I had turned into this freak ball handler that could get to the hoop and score on anyone I wanted to, it was because I could mix it up. My defender wasn’t able to just run up on me tight and close me out, because I could put the ball on the floor and make him pay. Being able to drive the ball made my defender close me out slower and this allowed me to get my shot off, as well as get to the line more because I was initiating the contact off of the dribble.
I was watching an NBA game a while ago and I don’t even remember who was playing, but one thing I do remember is what Reggie Miller said as he was announcing the game. He said, “What are you going to do as a player when a good defender takes away your 2 or 3 best scoring moves?” A good defender is going to know what you do well and make you play to your weaknesses.
You need to be able to be versatile and score in more than just a couple different ways. Obviously you are going to lean on your strengths, but what if you strength is your right hand and your defender is completely taking it away, are you going to be able to go left and finish? Mix your game up and don’t just work on the things you are good at when you get in the gym and do your basketball training.
Know Your Defender’s Tendencies
People always talk about scouting the offensive player and how you can pick up tips to shut them down. Well it goes the same way when evaluating your defender. For example is your defender a shot block or is he going to stay down on a shot and just contest your shot? If you are being guarded by a shot blocker then your best friend is a shot fake, but if you are being guarded by a defender that just contests shots his whole strategy is to try and get you to hesitate and throw your shot off just a little bit, and then live with the results.
If a player is quicker but smaller then you then take him in the post or use your mid range game. On the other hand if a bigger stronger player is guarding you take him out to where he has to move his feet to stay in front of you. As a big man on offense it is pretty simple to read your defender.
If your man is bigger and stronger then you, face him up and shoot or go around him. If he is smaller than you, put is butt in the post and back him down to get your hook off. All this only works if you are a multi dimensional player, and are well rounded in your offensive game.
Score Within the Offense
As much as being a skilled player, you also need to be able to give yourself the advantage on your defender. The best way to do this is in the offense and by using your teammates to help you get open and get a great shot for yourself. You look at a player’s stats and see that he scored 20 points and you think that is a pretty good scorer, but then you look and see that he took 30 shots. A great scorer is efficient and uses his teammates to help himself score as well as his teammates score.
The other team is going to know who the great scorers are and they are going to focus the team defense on them. This is why it is so important to use your team and your offensive sets to get your shots. Use down screens, ball screens, attack off the second penetration or after a reverse, be in the right spot for a kick out, etc.
Big men should be willing to screen because whenever you set a good screen this create a disadvantage for the defense and allows you to pop or role and create an advantage for yourself to score. Give yourself the advantage by scoring through the offense.
Know When to Attack
Time and place is another part of being a great scorer. During the game there are going to be different times which call for different shots, let me explain. It is okay to shoot a contested off of the dribble shot with the clock running down and no one else has a better shot. It is not okay to shoot that exact same shot if you have plenty of time on the clock.
There are just different situations you need to learn as you become a better scorer. Like at the end of the game if you know your guy is having a hard time guarding you and your team is in the bonus don’t shoot an off the dribble three, go to the basket and get a foul, finish, or both.
Become a great scorer by being versatile but also don’t get away from your strengths. Use your teammates and the offense to get a good shot for yourself or your teammates. Don’t be afraid to pass the ball to your teammates when they are open because it will open things up for you later in the game. It doesn’t take a great scorer to get 20 points on 30 shots. To be a great scorer you need to be efficient and know the time and place to score.