For the Fall 2013 issue of STACK Magazine, we talked to some of basketball's best minds training today's ballers about the Basketball Revolution. Read more about the speed and physicality of today's players.
During a six-game stretch last season, LeBron James scored at least 30 points while shooting 60 percent or better from the field—an NBA record. Carmelo Anthony, a wing player who traditionally would be expected to receive the ball at the 3-point line and dribble drive to the hole, instead spent over 20 percent of his offensive possessions with his back to the basket, taking a defender into the post—where he shot 43 percent. Kevin Love, a 6'10", 260-pound forward, has successfully swished nearly half of the 3-pointers he's taken during his five-year career. Jumpers, dribble drives, three pointers, post-ups—nothing is out of the realm of possibility for today's hybrid players, and their style of play is trickling down to colleges and high schools.
Stein: "The game evolved to what the European model has been for a long time. That's this concept of positionless basketball. You don't really worry about confining your players to being a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. They really want all players to have all skill sets."
Hess: "[Former Denver Nuggets head coach] George Karl would say to us that what makes great players great is that they never mess up the things that are easy. Making layups, getting back on defense—never, ever mess up on those assignments. And then, the amazing thing is, those players mess up only seldom. They play within their realm, but they're not afraid to extend themselves outside of the realm."
Stein: "You first heard it hit the NBA when you had guys like Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, guys who are borderline seven footers but are anything but just low post, back-to-the-basket players."
Hess: "A perfect example would be a guy like Carmelo Anthony. One thing Melo does that is just remarkable is that he loves contact, and his ability to create space is ridiculous. If you're not avoiding contact, if you're able to create space, you can do a lot of different things. Although he's working on different components of the game, intrinsically because of the fact that he is so well rounded in regard to the physical aspect of the game, he shies away from nothing."
Meyer: "When you're in a program, you have to fit their style. They brought you in to rebound, they brought you in to distribute, so yes you need to buy into the team concept, because that's what comes first. But you also have to know that before practice, after practice, you have to work on the things that are going to keep separating you from other players, things you're already good at. You have to think, 'I have to take care of me. I have to work on my skills before and after.'"
Barto: "Probably the thing the pros do the most is, they catch the ball and use a hesitation dribble to read the defender. That's not taught in high school and it's discouraged in college, but the better players, if they're playing on the wing especially, can catch the ball while being chased, put it down on the floor for one dribble, not over-dribble, and hesitate. Now they've set up the angle to go by one defender or split two defenders."
Hess: "Spend a huge amount of time on your bread-and-butter skills, and spend even more time on the other little things so your game is well rounded."
Learn to Do It All
Even if you can jump high, run fast and dribble like a Globetrotter, to take your game to another level you need to focus on the less glamorous parts of being an athlete, like your balance, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and hip- and ankle-mobility.
For Balance: Clock Reaches
Perform barefoot. Lay multiple strips of tape down to create a star shape with seven points. Stand with your left leg over the center of the tape. Balance on your left leg with your toe flat and foot square. Lightly touch each of the seven points of the tape with your right foot, then bring it back to center. Bend the knee of your left leg with each touch.
Sets/Reps: 2-3x each leg
For Better Reaction Time: Circle Chase
Perform with a partner at the half court circle. Line up directly across from each other in an athletic stance. One player is "it," and tries to tag the other player. Staying outside the circle, use reactive stops and starts to try and tag the other player. Go for 15 seconds or until a tag is made.
Sets/Reps: Perform 3 times as both the tagger and the person avoiding the tag
For Hip Mobility: Lunge and Reach
Step back with your left leg and lower into a deep lunge position until your left knee is just above the ground. Keeping your core tight, raise your left hand overhead until it is fully extended. Hold for one count until you feel a stretch and then push through your front foot to drive forward into the starting position. Repeat.
Sets/Reps: 3-4x6 each leg
For Ankle Mobility: Barefoot Line Jumps/Palm Touches
For Line Jumps, balance on one foot and hop back on forth to either side of a straight line six times. Repeat with your other leg.
Sets/Reps: 3-4x6 each leg
For Palm Touches, remain balanced on one foot and bend your torso to touch the ground in front of you with both palms. Slowly rise back to upright position.
Sets/Reps: 3x4-6 each leg
For Hand-Eye Coordination: Tennis Ball Drop
Have a partner stand six feet away holding a tennis ball in either hand at shoulder height. Start in a low, balanced athletic position. When the tennis ball is released, run and catch it before it bounces twice. After catching it, return to your athletic stance.
Sets/Reps: 3x3 ball drops
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock