There are many different facets that come with being an efficient scorer. Keyword, efficient. You must be able to get the shot attempts that you WANT and not the attempts that the defense ALLOWS. You have to be able to get to your spots at your pace and not be sped up by the defense. The best learn the economy of motion and energy. Meaning gaining an understanding of how to get the job done without extra steps and wasted energy. We have all witnessed players who can put up points but it comes at the expense of numerous forced attempts and shots that are not within the flow of the offense. The best bucket getters have a great understanding of HOW and WHEN. How to attack defenses and defenders and when to attack plays a huge role in being efficient. The efficient scorer is naturally gifted but those gifts need to be honed and paired with an incredible appetite for improvement. In the following passages, we will highlight the characteristics/traits of efficient scorers. Some of these traits I believe are innate and some can be taught/learned. Let’s talk about getting buckets!
Confidence/Work Ethic (Preparation)
Confidence is the beginning and end to being a good player. Whether that’s as a primary efficient scorer or the team’s lockdown defender, you have to have an unwavering belief in your abilities. This belief comes from rep after rep of working on your offensive repertoire on the floor and going over mental reps of those same shots/moves. That is where confidence arises from. Let’s be clear, we have all coached and played with very confident players that don’t put in the work and at some point, it always reveals itself. You cannot cheat the process. As a coach, it burns me up to hear kids say, “the coach doesn’t give me any confidence.” Now I will admit that as a coach you must assist your players in building their self-belief but the foundation of confidence has to come from within. I like to adhere to a phrase – if you’re stamina is on point, then you won’t have to worry about the length of the race. Meaning that if you put in the time and effort, you will be ready for whatever circumstances come your way. That’s why some NBA players are great at certain things and they are usually able to perform at a high level regardless if it’s the preseason or the NBA Finals. Now because you have embraced the grind and put the time in, your mentality will be that of a player who feels he can score on anyone in any situation. You have to be as excited about getting in the gym to work on your game as you are for game day. Too many times we see guys shooting shots in games and we know they haven’t put in anywhere near enough time to make that shot a dependable weapon. That will undermine efficiency! I can only imagine how many mid post fade away jump shots Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant rep in the practice facility. How much time and effort did Kareem put into perfecting the skyhook? Tim Duncan with the bank shots. Kyrie Irving with his finishes. You almost have to be obsessed to become that great. Your work ethic has to be abnormal in order to attain an elite skill.
If we look at the best scorers of the modern era of our game we will notice that the overwhelming majority have different dimensions to their ability to score the ball. It is extremely difficult to be a one trick pony and consistently score the ball efficiently and consistently, especially as you progress towards tougher competition. Efficient Scorer must know how to find points be it in transition, half-court offense or at the FT line. The best bucket getters are great one on one players but they also understand the importance of sprinting in transition to get into position to make a play, moving without the ball, being opportunistic on the offensive glass and probably the most underrated trait of a scorer is the ability to get to the FT line and convert.
Now let’s talk pace! This component is not just for an efficient scorer but since we are talking bucket getters we will explore it in that capacity. It’s similar to a pitcher in baseball. You can throw the hardest, fastest fastball, but if that’s all you have in the arsenal hitters will figure it out and start to hit them out of the park. Changing speeds is essential to being a dangerous offensive player. The ability to be unpredictable with the ball or while moving without the ball keep defenders guessing and gives the offensive player the advantage of being able to dictate to the defense.
In part 2 we will get some specific and tangible skills that go along with being a “bucket”.
Terrence Rencher is currently an assistant coach at the University of San Diego. He is the all-time leading scorer at the University of Texas, a record that he’s now held for 22 years.