The Curious Case of the Gentle Giant

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It’s a coach’s dream to have a number one pick in a draft. Your instincts lead you to choose the tallest player available thinking that he’ll become the next Shaq. You automatically dream of ways to use your new tall player. Alley oops, post plays, pick and rolls, wash your second story windows… the options are unlimited. But many coaches come to find their tall basketball player is just not very good at basketball. Even worse, it seems like he doesn’t really care to be good either.

From youth sports to the NBA, there are vertically gifted athletes that are just too nice. They don’t fight for rebounds. They don’t foul. They don’t really do anything aggressive or too quickly. They just gently make their way down court and back. Except for every once in a while. Someone lights a fire under them. They play to their potential for a handful of games only to go back to their usual gentle-selves.

Not sure if you have a chronically gentle giant on your hands? Compare your gentle giant with the all time greats of gentle giants of professional basketball.

How to identify a gentle giant

1) He has poor footwork or coordination in general. Walking and chewing gum at the same time is very difficult for him. You have hopes that he grow into his body, but that is an uphill battle.

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Shawn Bradley – Height = 7’6″, vertical leap = 2″ max

 

2) He doesn’t use his height to do anything productive, like say put his hands up and block shots. He doesn’t really do anything to stop opposing players from scoring and he doesn’t care about getting the ball on rebounds.

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Some 7’2″ French guy

 

3) Low basketball IQ and just general lack of awareness on the court.

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Kwame Brown – The definition of 1st round pick draft bust

 

4) He has unkept or purposely messed up hair like he just woke up out of bed. He doesn’t really care to look professional or at least look like a basketball player.

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Andrew Bynum – Would rather bowl than play basketball, but still wants to be paid like a real basketball player

 

5) He lacks good judgment and often makes the wrong decision. Sometimes he’s just not paying attention.

 

But Why?

Why can’t a tall athlete out compete the little guys? Why is he so lazy? Why doesn’t he practice? I believe, at least one of these items is in play when you’re dealing with a gentle giant.

1) Everything has come easy for him, so he never learned how to fight for the ball or out muscle anyone.

2) He hates being tall and hates the attention. Playing average basketball is his way of blending in.

3) He doesn’t really like basketball but plays because people expect him to.

4) He’s under too much pressure from coaches, teammates and spectators because of high expectations.

5) He doesn’t want to hurt anybody.

Not every tall player is a gentle giant

Not everyone follows the stereotype. There are many aggressive tall players in the NBA. Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson, Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, Serge Ibaka all play with a lot of aggression and enjoy using their size to their advantage.

Are some tall players just born with a will to compete? Are some tall people destined to be gentle all of their lives? I don’t know. No one knows it seems. Even in recent NBA drafts, teams have made poor decisions in selecting their tall players. They’ll even give them playing time in order to develop and mature, but sometimes it never pans out. The curious case of the gentle giant is an unsolved mystery.

Recommended Viewing

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Here is a list basketball related things I’ve watched, listened to or read through recently. Yeah, basketball is a full time job…

Watch

B.S. Report – Bob Pettit sits down with Bill Simmons and details life in the ABA and NBA when he worked as a banker in the offseason. He also proclaims Bill Russell as the greatest of all time and tells the story of Red Auerbach punching Ben Kerner before a game.

 

B.S Report – Rick Fox tells Bill Simmons about his days in the NBA, including a season of tanking on the Celtics, how tough Reggie Lewis used to play Michael Jordan, and his tumultuous times on the Lakers with Phil, Shaq, and Kobe.

 

The StartersOn Wednesday’s episode, the crew is back from their Awards Show on Monday and start off with some game recaps. Then, a round of Crossfire.

 

Listen

The Lowe PostZach and ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton talk real plus/minus, NBA awards, and the plight of the Pacers. Listen here: Link

 

Read

Fixing The NBA Playoffs – Plus, all your questions answered in this week’s mailbag by Bill Simmons. Read here: Link

NBA Shootaround: The Western Conference Arms Race – So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is back to help you keep track of it all. You’ll find takes on moments you might’ve missed from the previous night, along with ones you’ll remember forever. Read here: Link

 

Nothing But Net

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Swish! Splash! Wet! Net! Those are just a few acronyms for making a perfect shot that doesn’t touch rim. Regardless of what you call it, aiming for the perfect shot should be a habit, not just something that happens every once in a while.

“Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” – W. Clement Stone

This is a great quote for setting big goals. Even if you come up short, you’ll still be a success. With basketball this can easily be applied to how you should aim when you’re shooting…

“Always aim for swishes, even if you miss, you’ll still make the basket!” – Coach Josh

The idea is to aim for a swish every time you shoot and it makes the most awesome sound in the world!

 

See the Bullseye

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The smaller your target, the harder you try to hit it. Trying to hit the tiny red circle on a dart board is difficult, but even if you don’t hit it, you will rarely miss the whole dart board. Now picture that bullseye in the center of the rim on a basketball hoop. Your goal is to hit that bullseye with the ball every time.

Make Adjustments

Even when you make the shot, if it touches the rim, it wasn’t a perfect shot. And you were lucky the rim worked in your favor. Observe which side of the rim it hit and the trajectory of the ball. Was it a laser or a rainbow? Your shot should go high and come down like a rainbow. “More arch” is the number one tip I use to help players get more swishes. Was it left or right? Make sure your hand is pointed directly towards the rim. Learn from your last shot. The next time you take a shot, you can make minor adjustments to turn that lucky make into a skillful swish!

The Rim is a Variable

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Don’t rely on the rim to help you every time. We’ve all had shots that rattled in and out, or spun around the rim and don’t go in. The rim can be a cruel tease. The rim can be very different depending on where you play. It can be stiff or too loose. It could be one of those dreaded double rims that is very unforgiving. But the net never fails! Regardless of how bad the rim is, it won’t matter if you’re aiming for swishes. You’ll start to see that shots that almost go in can be improved upon, rather than blaming it on bad luck. Don’t settle for imperfect makes!

The Ball is a Variable

Don’t blame the ball for your misses! Whether its rubber, leather or some kind of vinyl, the ball shouldn’t effect your shooting percentage. Aiming for swishes is the key. Hitting the rim is your bad, not the ball’s!

Some Faulty Theories

There are many philosophies about shooting. Some are wrong, some are just plain outdated. But nothing is 100% guaranteed and nobody can tell you one way is perfect. No one makes 100% of their shots even with ideal shooting form and even when the one shooting is a professional NBA player. It’s just impossible to be 100% consistent. Yes, repetition increases your chances of making shots, regardless of your shooting form.  But there are some theories that incorrectly lead to missed shots that could be avoided:

1) Aim for the back of the rim – Incorrect. You hit what you aim for. So if you aim for the back of the rim, that’s what you will hit. Why would you aim for something you don’t want to hit? The rim is a variable that doesn’t always work in your favor. The net always works in your favor.

2) Aim for just over the front of the rim – Incorrect. For the same reasons as #1. This kind of aiming usually leads to better arch, but not enough accuracy when it comes to how hard you shoot. Sometimes you’ll hit the back, sometimes you hit the front.

3) Aim for banks on all shots if possible – Incorrect. Depending on where you are playing basketball, the backboard is either plastic, or metal or glass. The backboard could be white or clear. Even in the best of circumstances with an indoor basket, the backboard only has a square which is too large a target to aim for (the corner of the square, however, is a great target for layups and close shots within 5 feet from certain angles). The backboard is too much of a variable because the backboard changes based on where you play. The net never changes.

How You Can Use This Today

Shoot 25 free throws and only count your swishes. Don’t count it if it touches any part of the rim. The number will be very low at first. That’s ok! What you will realize is that the rim and/or backboard was helping you make a majority of your shots. Even though there may have been a fundamental problem with your shot, you ignored it because the ball went in sometimes. However, the rim is very unreliable and will hurt you in the long run. Aiming for swishes forces you to make adjustments even when you do make it.

At Least You’ll Make It!

Trying to get swishes every time can get very frustrating. It’s impossible to get a swish every shot. But luckily, swishing it is not the only way to score points. If your shot is close enough to a swish, the more likely you are to have the rim work in your favor. Also, there is still something to learn from every shot result. If it hits the rim, then next time you need to either shoot harder or softer, higher or lower, right or left. If it swishes, just rinse and repeat!

 

Boring Basketball 101

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Welcome to class! You’ll be glad you attended today because we’re about to learn Boring Basketball 101! Want to be the least wanted team to be in the NBA Finals? Want to have a team where none of your players are in the top 10 scoring leaders? Do you wish to be absent from Sportscenter Top 10′s night in and night out? How about not being included in preseason predictions for playoff contenders year after year? Well then, here’s how you play boring basketball and alienate the casual NBA fan!

Warning: Following these tips may lead to an 18 game winning streak (and counting).

1) Walk the ball up the court and rarely fastbreak. Don’t be in a hurry to score points or get your fans too excited.

2) Use up almost the entire shot clock every possession. This is very important if you want boring final scores like 88-85.

3) Don’t dunk unless you’re wide open. Floaters and open mid range shots are a much safer alternative. God forbid you posterize somebody.

4) Don’t create your own shot off a nifty dribble move. Or if you do, don’t shoot it, instead pass it to a wide open teammate. This helps you avoid being on Sportscenter.

5) And under no circumstances are you to concern yourself with being an NBA All-Star even though you’re advanced metrics prove you’re still top in the league and you can statistically prove you were snubbed.

Me personally, I love watching fast paced basketball. Fastbreaks, lots of threes and risk taking defense. The majority of the teams I’ve coached play a similar style. Basically the complete opposite of everything the San Antonio Spurs do on a nightly basis. So I haven’t watched the Spurs very much in my basketball TV watching career and I haven’t seen them at all this season. But a 17 game winning streak cannot be ignored. So I finally took good advantage of my NBA League Pass and watched the Spurs go for win number 18 in a row against the Pacers.

The differences between what the Spurs do and the rest of the NBA are staggering. It’s fundamental basketball at its best. As a coach I’m surprised I’ve never appreciated them on this level before.

Checkout this “highlight” video from the game. See if you can last all 4 minutes before just skipping to the rest of this article.

 

Here is the time on the YouTube clip the highlight occurred and a description of what happened:

:08 – Simple pick and roll with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for a jumper.

:33 – Curl play for Ginobili. He was so open that he was able to catch his own miss and put it back in.

:46 – Pin down screen from Duncan for a wide open 3 from Kawhi Leonard.

:53 – Duncan’s screen misses the defender but it’s still effective enough to give Parker an open lane to the basket.

:59 – Parker drive and kick to Diaw for a wide open three.

1:20 Tiago Splitter (7 feet tall) posting up on the smaller defender, Luis Scola (6 foot 8 inches). Just smart basketball here.

I only summarized the first minute because the highlights just get so repetitive. And these aren’t really even highlights, just outstanding fundamental basketball. Pick and rolls, downscreens, curls, drive and kick, pass and cut, backcuts etc. Nothing too different than what your typical high school team tries to accomplish in games. The key is that the Spurs are very unselfish. No one is interested in their own highlights or box scores. They play together to win games. The Spurs rarely rely on their athleticism. Instead it’s just about making the right passes at the right time and shooting when you’re open. They take smart, open shots. And if they’re not open, they create space for one of their teammates by screening for them or passing the ball. It helps that they make the shot at the end too. Just a boring basketball team lulling others to sleep with disciplined basketball.

Does it always work? No, the Spurs are not undefeated this season. But they are definitely doing a lot of things right. The Pacers are first place in the Eastern Conference and a potential candidate to make the NBA Finals. But the Spurs just dissected their usually stingy defense and was able to get open shot after open shot.

It’s not pretty, but the Spurs find a way to win year after year. They have several aging players. They have players that wouldn’t even get playing time on other teams because individually they do not stand out. But Coach Greg Popovich has created a culture of unselfish basketball that works regardless of the talent on the court. It’s just great basketball and it takes a deeper appreciation of basketball to appreciate what the Spurs do. I know it’s taken a long time for me to see it.

In the end, the numbers don’t lie. 58-16 record. 1st in assists (25 per game). 2nd in field goal percentage (49%). 1st place in Western Conference. 1st place in NBA overall. 18 wins straight and counting. Boring basketball at its finest.

 

We’re Back!

Hi everyone, just a reminder that we’re back for basketball this weekend!

Fun Workout This Weekend

This weekend is our “Fun” workouts where we give away bball magazines, posters and other goodies. The workout will also consist of more competitions and games rather than drills and practice.

Refer A Friend

We are bringing back the refer a friend deal for limited time. We have a few spaces open in each of our classes:
Saturday 9-1030am for 6-9 yrs
Sunday 145-315pm for 6-9 yrs
Sunday 315-445pm for 10+ yrs

If you refer 1 new signup, you receive 2 workouts for free! There is no limit to how many people you refer. Also, if you referred anyone within the last month or two, we would like to thank you and give you credit for that as well. Just tell us who you referred.

We’ll see you this weekend!

Coach Josh

Basketball Workouts & Trainings Canceled Thru 3/17

She’s here! Abbey Rose Melendez was born on Tuesday March 11 at 11:09pm. 7 lbs, 9 oz and 21 inches. 11 days early, she just couldn’t wait to see the world!
So trainings are canceled from today through Monday March 17. I plan on being available starting next Tuesday for private trainings and for workouts over the weekend but I’ll keep you posted if anything changes.
I’m sorry if this message reaches you last minute or too late. I tried to send this at the hospital by phone and post on our website but was unsuccessful. I’m hoping you received my phone text or saw our posts on Facebook and Twitter which was sent on Tuesday.
Thanks for all the responses, cards and gifts we’ve received so far!
Coach Josh

Future WNBA Star On the Way!

Hello everybody,
In case you didn’t know, Coach Veronica, my fiancé (also known as the young lady that takes your registrations) is going to have a baby girl! Her due date is March 23, but the doctor says it could any happen any day now! When the baby does arrive, I will be taking about a week off to tend to baby things. So it’s very likely that we will cancel at least one weekend of workouts plus several days worth of private training. But obviously we don’t know which dates that will be yet. When the trainings are canceled, we will notify you the same way we do for trainings that are canceled because of rain. We will post on Twitter, Facebook and on our website. We will also email and text you personally as well.
See you this weekend!