Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Attacking The Rim

If I were an NBA coach or GM, I would build my team this way (in no particluar order after number one):

1. Big Man. You build from the inside out. Give me one that plays defense, rebounds, has a low-post game, and can pass from the post. Yes, I know these players only come along once every 10-20 years, but that's where I would like to start.

2. Long Athletes. I love the Lakers front court. Gasol, Bynum, Odom. So many long and talented limbs. It's a tall man's game, folks (unless you are too tall and non-athletic, like Shawn Bradley, Chuck Nevitt or Manute Bol).

3. Great Defenders. I'll take one at any spot.

4. Selfless/Smart Players. High hoops IQ, put the team first, work for the best shot, and all of that crap.

5. Guys who ATTACK THE RIM. The number one trait I look for in an offensive player.

Every team should be built with the idea that they are going to defend the rim and attack the rim. Everything else falls into place if you can do these two things.

Getting to the rim is what it's all about. Really. It's no coincidence that the two best players in the NBA are also the two guys who can get to the rim anytime they want to: LeBron and Kobe. When you attack the rim, it opens a world of basketball doors. It makes you scary to defend. If they are worried about you getting to the rim, it gives you more room to launch a jumper. If other defenders are worried about you driving, the might leave their man to help, which means you've got someone to pass to.

Once you get to the rim, you usually win. It was either Darrell Royal or Woody Hayes (or some other old coach that feared the "forward pass") that once said "When you pass, three things happen, and two of them are bad (incomplete, or interception), so that's why we run the ball." That football philosophy is applicable when talking about getting to the rim in hoops, although I would expand it and flip it and say six things can happen, and four of them are good. The list:

1. You can make the layup or dunk (good)
2. You get fouled (good)
3. You get your sheet blocked (bad)
4. You get called for an offensive foul (bad)
5. You draw other defenders, giving yourself a chance for an easy assist (good)
6. You send a message to your opponent and your teammates that you are not afraid to attack (good)

It's all about getting high percentage, or easy, shots. Every NBA champ has had multiple guys that could get to the rim. As a coach, I would demand it. I want my point guard getting there whenever possible. I would want my wings making it a priority. I would tell my big men to attack the rim as though the rim just attacked their mother. It's all about mind-set. If my players had that mind-set--wanting to attack that rim and get dunks or draw fouls, I would feel great about my title chances. I want a pack of wild dogs who get after it on both ends.

It's why I love watching LeBron and Kobe. It's why I loved those 00's Spurs, with Parker and Ginobili living to get to the rim. It's why I hide my eyes when watching jump-shooting teams settle over and over and over for lower percentage shots.

From Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball":

"The fall-away jump shot is a passive/aggressive shot that says more about a player than you think. Jordan, McHale and Hakeem all had great fall-aways, but they were just a part of a larger arsenal. But five stars in the past 60 years have been famous for either failing miserably in the clutch or lacking ability to rise to the occasion: Wilt, Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing and Kevin Garnett. All five were famous for their fall-aways, and took heat because the shot took them out of rebounding position. If it misses, it is almost always a one-shot possession. On top of that, it never leads to free throws. It's the worst shot possible for a big man because it moves you away from the basket instead of toward it. It's one of many reasons that Tim Duncan became more successful than Garnett--because he makes an effort to plant his ass down low and take high percentage shots, where Garnett settles for fall-away 18 footers"

Wonderfully put. A fall-away says "I'm afraid to fail." Attacking the rim says "You are mine, bitch!" Attacking the rim says you are going to take matters into your own hands. It takes more effort, but the rewards can be many. It takes guts, skill, hard work, and determination. Traits you better bring to the table to start with, or I won't have room for you on my team.

The Mavericks have a problem in that they don't have many guys who attack the rim. Roddy Beaubois is the best--by far--but he's a rookie who gets limited minutes. Newcomers Butler and Haywood might help in that department. Kidd is too old to do much attacking these days. Terry is too in love with his jump shot. Marion is no longer "The Matrix". Dirk is Dirk. Dampier isn't sure where the rim is. It's a problem.

But that's just me. In the end, I'm not an NBA coach or GM. I'm an AM radio hack, so take my opinion for whatever you think it's worth. But know this: if I were a 6-8 black man, the rim wouldn't stand a chance.


  1. Well put Junior. The reason you loved the rim attacking Spurs are the same reason I dreaded the Mavs playing them in the playoffs.

  2. what does black have to do with attacking the rim?

  3. Well, jack, put it this way--list your top 50 dunkers of all-time. How many are white? One? Plus, if I were 6'8 I still couldn't get the rim.