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How does basketball work?
October 8, 2009 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Basketball season is nearly upon us, and I'd like to educate myself a bit better on how the game works. What are some good resources for learning about basketball strategy and tactics?

I've been a fan of the NBA since I was a kid, so I know the rules, the stats, and the personalities. But I never played basketball (at least after elementary school-level rec leagues), so I never learned about offensive and defensive strategies. I can spot and appreciate a good pick-and-roll, but beyond that (strong side? weak side? triangle offense? zone defense?) I'm mystified.

Most of the resources I've found through Google seem to be targeted toward coaching basketball to kids. Some of these are great, but seem a little abstract. (I'm not planning to coach basketball... at least not any time soon.) I would be more interested in a web page or book that simply describes how the game is played today, with an emphasis on how players and coaches design and execute plays, and not necessarily with a pedagogical slant. I'm looking for the pop sci book about basketball, not the high school textbook. Does such a thing exist?

As a secondary question, I'm interested to know if there is any writing out there explaining the moment-to-moment choices and techniques that basketball players use on the court. Ballhandling, footwook, setting screens and posting up: what decisions are players making as they do these things?
posted by aparrish to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm interested to know if there is any writing out there explaining the moment-to-moment choices and techniques that basketball players use on the court. Ballhandling, footwook, setting screens and posting up: what decisions are players making as they do these things?

The site featured in this post on the blue is specifically about the Blazers, but it's the best in-depth deconstruction of the details of offensive strategy I've seen.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:55 AM on October 8, 2009


Here's a great breakdown of the Portland Trailblazers offense, with diagrams and example videos of lots of different plays. It's not all-encompassing, but it does have some good information.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:55 AM on October 8, 2009


Current NBA-offense is mostly give the ball to the star and have 4 people stand around on the other side of the court - but if you want the more classical offensive strategy, I'd start by checking out the Princeton Offense. This video seems to be a good basic breakdown.
posted by timdicator at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2009


Basketball for Dummies - The name may sound off putting but this book was written by one of the all time great coaches, Digger Phelps. It's an excellent book on basketball.
posted by caddis at 7:33 AM on October 8, 2009


Ok, let's see.

-espn's Hoops 101 series is exactly what you're looking for in terms of layman, popsci explanations of basketball terms. It appears that some of the links have broken, so you might need to do a little digging to find all of the articles.

-The Macrophenomenal Basketball Almanac has some of what you're looking for. It's written by the people from Free Darko, which is probably considered the place on the internet where the best basketball writing is done(though the site is not exactly my personal favorite). It includes a ton of in-depth information about the styles and skills of current players and teams, but the style is more literary and less pop-sci. It's not exactly what you're looking for, but it's probably the finest book on basketball written in the last several years, so I'd be remiss not to mention it.

-Basketball on Paper, by Dean Oliver, is less of an Xs and Os manual, but very much is a layman's examination of what sorts of basketball-type activities are most valuable/important, and an explanation of how to watch a basketball game critically and with intelligence. It's a favorite of mine, and I think you'd really enjoy it.

-David Thorpe is a professional basketball trainer who writes columns and holds regular chat sessions for espn.com. He focuses on the information in your secondary question: how can players improve the small, technical bread-and-butter basic basketball skills, and regularly fields questions from curious high-school players about how to improve these skills.

It's unclear whether timdicator has ever seen an NBA game or is just trolling, but as you can see from those Trailblazers links, NBA offenses are more sophisticated than ever.
posted by Kwine at 8:12 AM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


In a previous askme about coaching, I recommended this site. It has a lot of fundamentals and different basic offenses and defenses.
posted by chndrcks at 12:39 PM on October 8, 2009


Thanks for the answers, everyone! I must have slept in the day that Blazers link was on the blue.
posted by aparrish at 3:43 PM on October 8, 2009


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