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A Guide to: Versatility

April 06, 2019 AT 12:00 AM

Dominating all over the floor

With the emphasis on position-less basketball in today’s game, versatility has become a key trait for any player who wants to thrive in the modern NBA. This has resulted in a reduced role for specialists in areas such as shooting and rebounding, which have traditionally been crucial components in contending teams. Although this may be an intimidating prospect for many young players, you can learn to be versatile in many ways.

Triple threat: This basic stance is the starting point of many offensive possessions, but its effectiveness dips substantially if any threat is removed. Thus, every player should have the ability to hit the open jumper if they are given space, drive past their man for the lay-up when the defense closes up and pass the ball when the opportunity arises. If your game lacks any of this, the defense does not have to pick their poison.

Ambidexterity: Similarly, it is easier for the defense to corner you if you have a strong preference for either hand. If you are effectively ambidextrous on the court, the defender would not be able to push you to drive in any direction. The ability to use both hands is essential in ball-handling moves and finishing at the rim, with maestros like Kyrie Irving maximizing this with a variety of fakes and crafty finishes. 

Inside and out: Every player can develop the ability to play all over the floor, instead of being confined to a specialized region. This forces the defense to rotate and can result in defensive lapses. This applies to even the modern ‘stretch fours’ and ‘stretch fives’, who would lose their advantage by just being tall perimeter players if they do not have a post game, and to guards, who will usually have some opportunities to post up other smaller-sized opponents.

Guarding multiple positions: On defense, the ability to guard multiple positions is the answer to offensive versatility. If your guards are able to contain bigs in the paint and your bigs have the lateral mobility to shut down the perimeter, you will never have to worry about mismatches and missed rotations. The pick-and-roll is the best example of this, where a versatile big can eliminate any offensive advantage by simply switching onto the ball-handler. 

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