We introduced three coaching lessons from three top NBA prospects yesterday.
Here are some more lessons we can learn from more prospects to aide the next batch of superstars:
Don’t Force Players to Adapt to You, Adapt to Them
HARRISON BARNES, Forward
It might seem like an eternity ago, but there was once a time when Barnes was considered one of the most hyped recruits in the history of basketball. In fact, he was the only freshman to ever be named a First Team Preseason All-American, and was considered to be a future star-in-the-making.
Two seasons later, the hype on Barnes has diminished considerably, with no one expecting him to be anything more than a solid role-player in the NBA.
While most pundits believe that Barnes simply looked otherworldly dominating mediocre high school games in Iowa, the fact that he was able to similarly outplay high-level national competitors on the AAU circuit takes away from their argument. Rather, Barnes just seemed much more comfortable and confident in high school than he did playing at UNC, which caused his stock to drop considerably.
It’s important for coaches to remember Barnes when designing game plans. Build the system around the best players, not the other way around. Don’t make them think too much! Unfortunately, Coach Roy Williams
screwed up considerably when he refused to modify his system for Barnes, using him the exact same way he used predecessor SF (and far less talented) Wayne Ellington. The sight of Barnes cluelessly standing around with his mouth open makes me wonder what might have been had his coach put the ball in his hands more.
Beauty is Incredibly Superficial
MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST, Forward
Kidd-Gilchrist poses the same leadership skills of Thomas Robinson, and the same versatility and contributive abilities of the other top draft prospects. What’s significant about Kidd-Gilchrist is that he just doesn’t play beautiful basketball like many other players. He doesn’t look slick handling the ball, doesn’t do behind the back passes, and his unorthodox jumper is something that would make Ray Allen cringe. What Kidd-Gilchrist is though, is that he’s simply just an instinctive basketball player who wins.
Coaches often spend way too much time trying to teach players to play according to their own ideals of beauty. As Kidd-Gilchrist has shown us, developing player’s instincts and approach to the game is far more important than teaching them how to look good when they play.
Make Players Crave Your Approval
ANDRE DRUMMOND, Center
Physically speaking, Andre Drummond is about as close to an ideal center as you can imagine. He’s bigger than Dwight Howard, not habitually injured like Greg Oden, and could probably leap over Andrew Bogut. Yet, this once-in-a-decade beast who should be a lock for the number one overall pick is instead slotted to be picked in the lottery.
Well, for starters, Drummond averaged a very mediocre 10 PPG/7.7 RPG, which is even worse when you think about how incredibly gifted he is. The real kicker though is how passive and bored Drummond looked when he played. He seemed to be thinking: “I don’t need to prove how talented I am. Just look at me! Why should I have to prove myself?” In short, he’s the poster boy for a pampered underachieving athlete, who is all too aware of how good he can be.
When you think about many of the legends like Jordan, Bird, and Stockton, you realize that they were driven to do extraordinary things primarily based on their insecurity that they weren’t good enough. They played basketball with the intensity of fringe players fighting to make it into the league. Jordan put it best when he revealed his motivation in his Hall of Fame Speech: “I wanted you to understand. You made a mistake [Coach].” Unfortunately, those are words that a pampered player like Drummond will never understand.
Coaches often make the mistake of babying their star players, trying to keep them in a good mood for the sake of team chemistry. It’s unfortunate because those players become all too convinced of how good they are, and lose whatever motivation they had for getting better. Challenge your stars, antagonize them a little, and make them continuously vie for your respect and approval. Only then can they truly maximize their potential.