This is a coach’s favorite word and the hallmark of a good player. Can you anticipate what is likely to happen next? No one knows exactly what is going to happen, but it pays to be thinking and to be guessing while you are preparing for everything. For example, after a rebound, there is likely to be an outlet pass to the side. There may not be, but anticipating one and being prepared to intercept it is playing smart.
There are all sorts of things that come up during a basketball game, and the more of them that you can anticipate, the better player you are. For example, you’re defending someone away from the ball, and suddenly the ball is dribbled baseline. Maybe the player with the ball will score a layup, or maybe he will pull up and take a jump shot, or maybe he will leap in the air and throw a turn-around jump pass back in the direction he came from. Maybe. But you should anticipate, if you can’t cut him off yourself, that he will be cut off by one of your teammates, and then you will have to pick up that teammate’s man. When the player with the ball drops a short bounce pass to an open man in the middle or across the basket, you can intercept it if you anticipate properly.
No one can anticipate every move in advance, but good players constantly are asking themselves, “Now what’s going to happen? Now what’re they going to do?”
From Dick’s book Stuff