If you’ve ever wondered how to consistently score more points…or what to be working on in your workouts…or what you should be thinking about in games…
… you’re in the right place.
The important and elusive question that we are here to address today is, HOW?
How do you score more points consistently?
What should you be working on in your workouts?
What should you be thinking about in games?
These are the questions that we will attempt to answer below…
The Magical 2 are the things great scorers do to consistently score more points, regardless of their size or their position.
They may get there in different ways, but they all find a way.
If you look across any league at any level, the players that are the best at these 2 things are almost always the leaders in points per game.
Talent, size, athleticism, all of these are “nice-to-haves”; but if a player cannot find a way to use these gifts to become elite in the Magical 2, they will never find the success they seek.
So, without further ado, let’s introduce the Magical 2:
- Free Throws
Scoring is a numbers game. It’s not about flashiness, it’s about efficiency.
Do the best scorers in the game make tough shots? Absolutely.
Do they have the ability to break down defenders and score in traffic? Of course.
However, the foundation of their points per game is built not on the difficult and the impressive…
but rather on the simple, easy things that average fans (and players) overlook:
layups and free throws.
If you need proof, just look at the numbers…
As I am a currently writing this, the top 5 NBA leaders in scoring (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Damian Lillard, and Joel Embiid) are also the top 5 NBA leaders in free throw attempts per game (the order is different, but the same 5 are there).
If we cross section the top 20 in scoring, free throws, and layups, 10 players are in the top 20 in all 3 categories (the 5 mentioned before plus Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry and LeBron James).
In this list alone you have every position from point guard to center listed.
You have Steph, the greatest shooter the world has ever seen, and Giannis who only takes jump shots as a last resort. You have players that use ball screens, others who set ball screens, players who love to score in transition, and others who prefer the half court.
Regardless of HOW they get there, layups and free throws make up a huge percentage of their total offense.
So now you might be wondering…
HOW do I get more layups and free throws in games?
Glad you asked.
These things are simple; so simple that most players fail to recognize their power.
- Get at least 3 transition layup attempts per half.
- Create more collisions.
- Fake more.
- Sell it.
The easiest way to get layups and get fouls is in transition because the defense is usually late, scrambling, and often at a numbers disadvantage.
The truth is, many players simply don’t attack this weak point enough.
For a moment, think about all of the “could have, but didn’t” situations you’ve had in previous seasons.
Think about all the times you could have sprinted the floor and got a long outlet pass for an easy layup. Or the times you’ve secured a long defensive rebound at or above the free throw line and could have attacked, but didn’t. Or the times where you’ve received an outlet pass near the sideline and looked ahead to see nothing but open court in front of you, but simply felt too tired to accelerate and attack. Or the times when your opponent is celebrating after they score, and instead of getting a quick inbound pass and racing the floor you allow your team to slowly retrieve the ball and walk the ball up the court.
Regardless of position or level of play, there is simply no better time to get easy buckets than in the first 5 seconds of gaining possession.
Getting 6 more transition attempts per game will get you more layups and free throws than anything you can do in the half court.
Basketball is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport.
Contact is consistent – a post defender is allowed to lean a bit and occasionally get away with a forearm on the back of the offensive player. An on-ball defender can get away with some shoulder to shoulder contact on the drive, as long as the pressure applied is consistent throughout the drive.
Collisions, however, are when two opposing forces meet violently. A running back runs through a hole in football and a linebacker is there to meet them: BOOM! Collision.
This type of abrupt, violent contact is not permitted in basketball and will usually result in a foul call.
As a clever player, it is important to learn how to start your drives and finish your layups by creating more collisions.
Find the body of the defense and throw your shoulder into them.
Referees are trained to blow the whistle when they see collisions, and 8 times out of 10 it will be called on the defense, regardless of who initiated it.
Play the odds, create more collisions, and go to the free throw line more.
Using fakes allows you to manipulate defenders and bait them into going where you want them to go.
A well-placed shot or pass fake at the rim can get your defender in the air and flying by or looking in the wrong direction.
All of a sudden, what would have been a contested shot at the rim is now uncontested – wow, this is magic after all!
In addition, a good shot fake at the rim can get the defender in the air and make them easier targets to draw a foul on; at PGC Basketball Camps, we call these fakes “Arrums,” as we use them to air out the defense.
Oftentimes the presence of a shot blocker will scare off opponents from driving to the basket as they don’t want to get their shot blocked.
However, if you get good at using fakes (specifically Arrums) these shot blockers will start to look more like opportunities than obstacles.
Why? Because shot blockers love blocking shots. In fact, they are addicted to it.
When they see someone drive, they can’t help but try and send that layup attempt out of bounds. They will try to block a shot maybe a dozen times unsuccessfully just to get that one clean block.
Even if they are in foul trouble, even if they could have just walled up and forced a tough shot like their coach has been yelling from the sideline all game, most shot blockers just cannot fight the urge to leap in the air and block a shot.
As a clever player, you should see this as a great opportunity: whenever you drive and see that player coming over to block the shot, simply use an Arrum, get them to jump, and create a collision while they’re in the air.
Not only is it an easy way to get to the free throw line, but it also puts what is usually one of your opponent’s tallest, most athletic players in foul trouble and potentially sends them to the bench.
That’s right, sell the foul. Yell. Flail your arms a little.
I’m not saying that you should fake contact that isn’t there – that will actually lose you credibility with refs and they may not call actual fouls for you when they do happen (you don’t want to create a “boy/girl who cried wolf” situation).
If you watch great scorers, however, you’ll notice that they embellish, or over-sell, the contact that does occur. They make the hit look a lot harder than it was.
The game moves very fast, and as a result it’s hard for refs to see what contact is inconsequential and what contact actually affects the play.
Contact that seems more extreme will stand out and thus be called more frequently. This may seem cheap, but it is and always has been a part of the game.
You won’t get every call, but you will get more of them, and the better you get at selling fouls the more likely it will work.
Ok, that’s a lot of information.
So what do you do with all of this? How can this help you?
If you want this message to translate into more points in games, here are the 2 things you must do:
First, you have to start taking a numbers-based scoring approach into every game.
- At least 4 trips to the free throw line per game (once per quarter)
- At least 3 transition layups per game
- At least 2 half court layups per game (1 per half)
By keeping this strategy in mind throughout the game, you can achieve the big goal (scoring more points) by focusing on smaller, easier wins throughout the course of the game
In addition to this numbers based approach, start to use your workouts, practices, and games to improve on the tools and tactics we’ve covered that can help you achieve the numbers we want.
These tools would include:
- Creating collisions
- Faking more
- Selling fouls
The numbers are the “what,” or the results we need to achieve the goal.
The tools are the “how,” or the ways in which we can get better results.
With better tools and a more focused strategy, you can easily start scoring more points with more consistency than you ever have before.
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
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Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.