I took in my first NBA summer league game today between the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers this afternoon. It was, basically an organized scrimmage but I thought it was interesting to see the young rookies like Derrick Rose playing with NBA players. He struggled with his shooting, but otherwise, he looked solid.

The game was close but in the 4th quarter, the Bulls got hot from behind the 3-point line and pulled ahead by 20 or so. One of the most difficult things to teach young players is about shot selection. I don't mean, necessarily who should be or shouldn't be shooting, but specifically, what we categorized as a good, "open" shot, as opposed to a bad, "well-defended" shot. Here are a couple of "good" shots from the Bulls,

It's tough, because as coaches we know what a good shot is, but communicating that to the kids is difficult sometimes. From my experience, if the defender does not have a hand extended and can touch the ball or your body, then you are open.

Getting Open:

I see alot of kids these days, and they use these huge lunges for a jab step. In my experience, you want to use a short jab, no longer than your usual stance. When you jab too long, you tend to get called for traveling violations, lose your explosiveness on your first step and finally it takes a lot longer to get back to your triple-threat and your shot pocket if you jab too long. So in summary, make a short jab, to get the defender reacting one way (which they should based on good M2M defensive principles),

How Do You Know You Are Open:

First, you need to get to triple-threat. If you've used a jab step, you may need to move your feet back. Get into your shot pocket and if you see your defender with hands down and greater than 1 arms length away, then you are open to shoot the shot,

Now, some players get their shot blocked even after being open as described above. In most of these cases, the player does not have a good quickdraw. What we mean by quickdraw is that once you catch the ball, you want to get into your shot pocket as quick as possible. So, if you have a habit of bringing the ball down to your hip first, or bob your head and knees (I've seen them all), they all slow you down and prevent you from getting to your shot pocket as quickly as possible.


In the NBA, you don't really get to hear the coaches on the bench. In these summer league games, I could hear Coach Vinny Del Negro really belting out the commands. I also saw Del Harris there. I like Coach Harris a lot, and seeing him there made me feel comfortable knowing that the Bulls are going to be alright.

For some more great shooting tips, take a look at Jay Wright's DVD on Competitive Shooting Drills. Coach Wright is the head coach of Villanova. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.