Make spacing a priority
The most valuable commodity on a basketball court is space. When constructing your offense, you should try to be in areas where there is a lot of space to operate. Players bunching together are offense killers. Those little 2-foot passes are turnovers waiting to happen. Proper space opens up driving lanes, gives room for players to come off of screens, allows for creativity and really puts a burden on the defense. Make them play defense over distance.
Best shooters shoot the most
This sounds basic and simple, but I am amazed at the number of times I watch teams play where this is not the case. Many coaches, to their credit, try to create an atmosphere of sharing and unselfishness. They try to spread it around. However, sometimes that is just bad basketball. Just like in life, people should do what they are good at and they should do it most often. It is true that shooting holds a special place in basketball. Most players create their identity through shooting. Some coaches do a poor job of teaching the value of the other parts of the game. No one complains when a rebounder grabs every rebound or when a defender makes steal after steal but if 1 player shoots too much, it’s a problem.
Teach your players that they should do what they are good at. If you are a good shooter, shoot.
Evaluate your foul shooting
Just like other skills, not every player is going to be a good foul shooter and not every team is going to be a good foul shooting team. Being a poor foul shooting team is a great disadvantage. When you can’t make foul shots, good plays such as getting fouled in the act of shooting, become turnovers. You make a good play, get no points and they get the ball. It is a tough way to succeed on the court.
Realistically evaluate your foul shooting. If your team is not going to make foul shots, you need to accept that. I am not saying forget about it, I said accept it. While you are trying to improve your foul shooting, prepare your team to convert the misses. Use some foul line plays for offensive rebounding. Keep the ball in the hands of your good foul shooters. Play the percentages. Spend as much time preparing to get offense out of your foul shots as you do in getting your foul shots.
Less is more
Basketball is not an exercise in showing how much you know. It is the coach’s job to try to put his team in a situation where they can be successful. Too many coaches try to outsmart, rather than outplay, their opponents.
To be successful, as a team and as a player, you only have to be good at only a few things. Pick a couple of things you think your team is good at and become very good at them. Take the time that you use on things you only use once and a while and take more time to work on the things that you use most of the time. Your players will not only get better and more comfortable at them, but they will start making their own adjustments, they will start talking to one another and their team play will improve 10 fold.
Use Screens to Create Mismatches
At many levels of basketball, screens are used to free up players. At the highest levels, screen areas used to control matchups.
Running guards off ball screens set by post players will create big-small switches. If you identify a poor defender, use his man to set screens. Their screening defense will suffer freeing up your players for open shots and will enable you to match their poor defenders to your good offensive players.
Screens can do a lot of things other than free shooters. Use them to control the defensive matchups.