“Throw passes that can be caught, not ones that should have been.”
From Dick’s book Stuff
Most players, even lazy ones, give the impression they are ready to play good defense during the first five seconds of any defensive play. Most of them have been drilled enough that they are even willing to turn and block out the man they are guarding, if he happens to be near them when the shot goes up. As a result, any shot taken after only one pass is likely to be well defended, and followed by five men blocking out for the rebound, and prepared to fast break immediately. What could be easier? Two to five seconds on defense, no cuts to guard, no man to chase, no screens to get over or through, no fakes to worry about. One pass from the point guard to the side, and the shot goes up.
It should be obvious, when you think about this, that the first-pass shot should be refused—even if it is a good shot, so that the same shot can be taken later when each defender is not in a position to block out and immediately fast break.
In a midget league, everyone is so happy to have a scoring opportunity that the ball flies upward at the first sign of daylight. But good players can always find some daylight, and the daylight after several passes and cuts will yield a much better scoring opportunity and defensive capability than if the shot is put up after the first pass. (This of course applies to offense against a set defense, not fast breaks where the advantage situation may not come up again and where the rebounding opportunity is even better than it would be in a five-on-five.)
There are, in addition, the added benefits of better teamwork being fostered by more than one pass each time down on offense. But that is a byproduct. Even if the team “agrees” with the shot and the shooter, and even if morale would not suffer as a result of some first-pass shots being taken, good players will refuse them anyway. The percentages favor that refusal. Very, very seldom is a first-pass shot rebounded by the offensive team.
Special note to point guards:
It should go without saying that dribbling downcourt and shooting anything but a layup—with no passes at all—should be avoided completely.
From Dick’s book “Stuff”
Bad shots, probably more than anything else, lose basketball games. Yet, bad shots are ridiculously common. Go to any playground, and you will see more bad shots taken than good shots. Players seem to love taking bad shots.
Do you understand what a bad shot is? You probably think you do, but you probably don’t. It might be easiest to illustrate this with a question or two.
Each time you come down the court, why don’t you let a shot fly from midcourt? Most players readily understand why that is stupid. A midcourt shot is not a very high percentage shot. It is smarter to get closer and take a shot that has a better chance of going in. This makes good sense, and it seems like the whole world should agree on what is and is not a good shot. But agreement usually ends at midcourt because for some strange reason, players routinely think that all sorts of hooks, fadeaways, far-off jumpers and quick flings are good shots.
A coach will ask, “Why take a quick 20-footer?” And the player will answer, “I can make that shot, Coach.” And yes, he can. A bit more often than he can make a fling from midcourt, but a lot less often than he can make a right-hand layup or an open 15-footer. So, why ever take a quick 20-footer?
Maybe you never should. The point is, if there is no shot clock, what excuse is there, especially in the first half when obviously there is plenty of time left, for taking a quick 20-footer? Why not wait for a better shot?
To some players, even good ones, these kinds of questions often sound ridiculous, and yet winning teams are most often the teams who pass up shots like these and wait for better ones. Only teams who have no confidence in their ball-handling should “jack up 20-footers” in the first half of a game. Otherwise, it makes sense to explore the defense and see if it isn’t possible with a bit more movement and a couple more passes to get a 15-footer or even a layup.
For players, the toughest thing isn’t so much to learn not to take fadeaways and hooks and flings but to learn the difference between a 45% shot and a 60% shot. There isn’t a great deal of difference.
What is the difference between a 45% shot and a 60% shot? Not much. Both feel good, and both feel like they are going to go in. Both do go in rather often, yet 60% shooting wins games, while 45% often loses them. A bit more time. A step closer in. A bit more confidence and certainty about the one. A bit of this and a bit of that–not much, and not easy for a coach to make into a hard and fast rule. Yet, the 60% shot wins and the 45% shot loses. It is a subtle difference, a minor difference and almost no difference at all.
But then, neither is there much difference between two teams who finish a game 67-64. Only that one team won and the other lost.
From Dick’s book “Stuff”