Watching some of the NBA’s best players in the conference finals playing from the shoulders down!

Watching the NBA (Not Basketball Anymore) Eastern and Western Conference Finals that are 3-2 in favor of the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics I am still amazed, crazed and disappointed in how much the game is played from the shoulders down which features poor offensive and defensive basketball decision making skills because of lower Basketball IQ’s by many of the players that leads to poor basketball decision making which can lead to poor shot selection, increased player control fouls (Player out-of-control-fouls in my opinion), more turnovers and more defensive fouling, etc. These are mental mistakes that can lead to physical mistakes.

Time and again some of the best players in the world make basic defensive mental mistakes that leads to their opponents offensive scoring.

1. Leaving their feet before the player they are guarding with the ball leaves his feet leads to fouling (especially 3 point shooters) or wide open 3 point looks or a player being able to go to the hoop as the defender has gone passed the shooter.

2. Guarding the player with the ball who is shooting (especially the 3 point shot) with the wrong hand and arm. Many guard the right handed shooters with the right hand and arm instead of using the left hand and arm which allows the shooter better vision of the hoop.

3. Blocking the ball on a shot before the ball leaves the shooters hand which leads to act of shooting fouls.

4. When guarding a player without the ball many do not keep the triangle of themselves, their man they are guarding and the ball which allows for the offensive player to make successful face cuts or back cuts for easy layups.

5. On defensive rebounding how many times do you see the offensive player get to the offensive boards for a put back because their defender does not block them out correctly. THE ONLY TIME THAT ANY DEFENSIVE PLAYER SHOULD NOT KNOW WHERE THE BALL IS, IS ON A SHOT AS IT IS IN THE AIR. AS SOON AS AN OFFENSIVE PLAYER WITH THE BALL HAS THE BALL LEAVES THE SHOOTER’S HANDS THE DEFENDER SHOULD FIND HIS MAN (TRIANGLE) and MOVE TO HIM AND THEN BLOCK HIM OUT CORRECTLY. How many times do we see an offensive player get to the offensive boards for put back because his defender turned immediately and did not find him and block him out correctly.

These 5 defensive mental mistakes reminds me of “WHEN YOU REACT, REACT CORRECTLY”.

Now the offensive mental mistakes:

1. Turnovers because a player with the ball leaves his feet and does not shoot the basketball and his teammates think he is going to shoot and the player does not have a shot he makes a bad pass because his teammates are looking for the rebound and ball goes sailing by them or hits them in the back or the player ends up with a bad shot.

2. How many players catch the ball any place on the court and do not immediately turn and face the basket.

3. How many players catch and do not read the court in front of them?

4. How many actually act before they think to read the court in front of them?

5. How many rely on only their athletic skills offensively and not their basketball skills?

Thee offensive mistakes reminds me of the old saying “YOU SHOULD LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP”.



These 5 offensive and 5 defensive mistakes are mistakes that I would did not accept from my high school players.

Here is the drills we used TO REDUCE THESE MISTAKES. In practice we would have our first 7 on offense or defense together and the 6th man sat in a chair in the corner of the court behind the basket we were using and the 7th man sat in the opposite corner on the same end of the court as 6th was sitting.

If one of those mistakes occurred then the 6th man had to give the coach what it was and if he was correct then he came in for the player who made the mistake and that player ran a lap around the court and the 7th player moved over to the other chair to become the 6th man and the player who ran became the 7th man. If the 6th man did not know what the mistake was and the 7th man did then the 7th man came in for the player who made the mistake and the 6th player and the player who made the mistake both ran and the player who made the mistake became the 7h man and the 6th man went back to his chair. If the 6th and 7th man did not know what the mistake was then they both had to run a lap. If the player on the court knew the mistake then he stayed in. If the 6th, 7th and the player did not know then if any other player on the court knew then 6, 7 and the man who made the mistake then everything remained the same before the mistake. If nobody knew all ran and we started again were we left off.

In games when we were using a 7 player rotation we gave a player 2 of those 10 mistakes and then he was taken out, sat beside the assistant coach and the assistant coach asked him what the two mistakes were. If he did not know the assistant coach told him what they were and he had two wait for the 2nd substitution after he was taken out. If he knew then he only had to wait until the next one was made by another player on the floor. If we were using only a 6 man rotation then the player taken out only had to wait for another player on the court to make 2 mistakes and he got right back in.

By doing these two things (practice and games) it really helped our players to develop a higher basketball IQ which allowed them to make good basketball decisions not to commit these type of mental mistakes.

These mistakes are simple fundamental skills that all basketball players can develop as they do not take much athletic skill just thinking before they act.

These basic simple little things evidently have not been taught to the players who commit these errors at anytime in their careers.

Even a team as well coached as the Boston Celtics commit these 10 basic fundamental little things that cost them points on both sides of the ball.

Next NBA game you watch look for these 10 fundamental errors especially on the defensive end as the 5 defensive mistakes above are usually just lack of reacting correctly and takes less athleticism as the 5 offensive ones do.

Always thought and still do that basketball is a six inch game. 6 inches from a players adam’s apple up to his brain and 6 inches from their adam’s apple to their heart is playing the game from the shoulders up while anything including the core and legs which are below a players heart is playing the game from the shoulders down.

Just my basketball opinions based on my 73 years in the game as a player, coach, official, TV/Radio color analyst, past fan and a current basketball writer and current fan.

Or maybe it is just “Different basketball strokes for different basketball folks” or “What floats others basketball boat doesn’t float my basketball boat”.

All I know is whenever I see the greatest players in the world commit these 10 simple fundamental mistakes it just drives me basketball crazier when you consider how much they are making to play a kids game and the high priced coaches who allow their players to commit these 10 cardinal sins of basketball who don’t know about these 10 mistakes that they allow their players to make and do.

They are little things but extremely important in the results of every played basketball game at any level, but you would think the higher the level of play the less these 10 simple mistakes would happen.

Suggestion for NBA coaches: Maybe they should FINE the players that make one of those 10 mistakes that leads to score by their opponents or costs their team points.

Or maybe the owners of the teams should fine both the coaches and the players when this happens if the coach doesn’t know these basic fundamental mistakes that can cost their teams games even in the conference finals.