The National Basketball Association is hands down the best basketball league in the world. The rosters of 15 players are so difficult to crack, and to stay there; it takes even greater skills.
It is even more impressive that a player like Nikola Jokic can win back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards and then be the frontrunner for a third straight.
Those NBA lines on a nightly basis will sometimes hinge on a rotational player having a good game or not, particularly with the number of players who rest.
The ability to play at that high of a level is so difficult that some players would rather play overseas because of the consistency they can play with and the guaranteed money they can get. Being a fringe NBA player would mean less money and likely more back and forth with the G League rather than playing with one team overseas on a guaranteed contract worth millions, depending on the skill set.
So what does it take to become an NBA player or a highly skilled player who goes overseas? Here are some tips for basketball players who hope to join those ranks.
It Starts Early
It takes a lot of time and practice to become great at something and to be in the top percentile in the world; there are a lot of hours that are sacrificed in order to reach the pinnacle, and some still do not get there. But for kids, it has to start early with good diets, strength training, running, conditioning, and just being a kid.
Then there are a lot of opportunities to try different sports and work out different muscles. But once a kid shows a preference for basketball over other sports, the training can start ramping up with camps, developmental trainers, and competitive basketball leagues.
So often, it will be a kid’s second job, so to speak, after school. Being able to get a workout in and then work on the basketball skills that will be used in a game is so critical to one’s development. The earlier a kid decides, the sharper their skills will be as their body grows and matures.
There are a lot of great players when there are more players, but as the talent levels fill out, that is when true talent begins to show. There are only a few LeBron James or Kevin Durant players who are going to be great at everything for long periods of time.
So kids need to work on all skills throughout their careers, but they need to develop an elite trait. The most common one is being a great shooter. That is because you can’t teach height to be a forward, while quickness and speed can be improved, though there are some with natural abilities, and then there are only so few players who can have the ball in their hands as a point guard.
One thing that can’t be taught other than instilled in someone when they are young is a great work ethic. Coaches love players who show effort with some frequency. That will often translate when the game is tight, or there is a loose ball, and someone needs to get after it or elevate the team.
Student of the Game
Along those same lines is someone who knows what plays to make and when to make them. Being able to trust a player with the ball in his hands is a true blessing to a coach as it can save them their precious timeouts.
But turning that to the defensive end is of greater importance. Golden State Warriors forward and former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green said recently that teammates recognize the winning plays that others contribute, particularly if that is leading to championships.
Green knows a thing or two about defense and being able to read screens and recognize set pieces (which comes from studying film), or when and where to rotate is such a significant part of the game of basketball. That is most notable at the NBA level during the playoffs or down the stretch, as teams are fighting for a playoff spot.