As basketball has progressed, the 3-point line has become the predominant factor in dictating the direction the game is now headed. Just take a look at the Houston Rockets, who currently boast the second-best record in the NBA while shooting an astounding 43 threes per game. This style of play has proven effective for the Rockets and many of the top teams in the league. Players are launching more 3-pointers than ever, and the advanced statistics and analytics support the effectiveness of teams and players increasing 3-point attempts.
But let’s say you are a perimeter player and shooting threes is just not part of your offense. You may be working to develop that shot, but in the meantime, you still want to contribute. Luckily, there are ways you can still be a very effective scorer without having the threat of a 3-point shot in your arsenal.
Take a look at players like Ben Simmons or Giannis Antentekoumpo for proof that you don’t need to be a 3-point deadeye to get buckets. Jump shooting is not the most effective or efficient aspect of these player’s games, and they know that. So rather than settle and take the 3-point shot that the defense usually gives them, they will utilize the space between them and their defender to get to where they want. While both of these athletes are also rare physical specimens, players without their natural gifts can also take advantage of the same techniques.
If you are not a 3-point shooter and teams have been sagging off of you around the perimeter because of that fact, you can actually use this to your advantage. In some cases, sagging off is effective because it can clog up the court and make the defense seem more compact, cutting off driving lanes. However, the space the defender gives you can also enable you to get closer to the basket and create different attack angles.
There are many ways and situations in which you can be an effective scorer throughout the game without being a 3-point shooter. Here are some ways you can maximize your abilities no matter how the defense is playing you.
1. Use the Pump Fake
It might seem illogical to use a pump fake to drive past a defender when that defender is sagging off of you and tempting you to shoot the three. However, it’s also incredibly unlikely that if you were to take the shot, they would stand idle and not attempt to contest the attempt. So a good pump fake can force the defense to jump or lunge at you with high hands, putting them out of position so you can drive by them. If you really sell the pump fake, the defender will have to take a few steps out to you to contest the shot, at which point you can start your drive to make a play. And if they don’t bite, you’ve got some other methods you can utilize to get to the basket.
2. Attack the Space
A defender playing off a player who wants to get to the basket can actually be a huge advantage for the offensive player. By sagging off and giving you space, the defender is effectively giving you free distance you can close between yourself and the rim. Eat up this free space by starting your drive with a few dribbles right at the defender. This will help you build momentum and get them on their heels. You’ll then have to make a quick move because the defense will be a little more compact. A tight crossover or an in-and-out dribble will work best so that you can shift your defender and attack the open angle to drive by them.
3. Use the Barkley
The Barkley is a move in which you turn a perimeter drive into a post-up opportunity, so your defender sagging off actually plays into your advantage here, too. Because they are giving you some space to drive, you now have more space to get deeper into the paint or closer to the block so you can get to a better spot for your post-up. A straight line drive attacking a sharp angle at the outside of one of your defender’s hips is the best way to initiate the Barkley and get good position for a post-up.
4. Get Out in Transition
If the defense is sagging off of you, and help defenders are really packing the paint, it might be incredibly difficult to score in the half court. So one way you can still affect the game offensively is in transition. This starts with a good box out on defense so you can grab the defensive rebound and start the break yourself by aggressively pushing the ball up the court and looking to score or make a play for a teammate. If you do not get the rebound, run hard up the court, filling a lane and looking to get yourself open for a quick transition bucket. Be sure to make the most of your transition opportunities because they give you the chance to score before the defense is set.
5. Score Without the Ball
“Scoring without the ball” is a term used to refer to scoring using movement away from the ball to get a quick open shot. In the half court, you can use hard cuts and screens to free yourself for open looks and still be an effective scorer. This guide to using an off-ball screen can help you shake free of defenders and get a ton of open looks at the basket.
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