Are you a valuable player?

As I was watching Kentucky’s post game press conference after their National Championship win Monday night, I heard John Calipari state something that he says he talks to his team about frequently. “Tell me what you do to help us win when you’re not scoring balls”. Calipari was responding to a question regarding the offensive struggles of his freshman sensation Anthony Davis, who made only one of his 10 field goal attempts that game. Despite the poor shooting percentage, there was no question who the most dominating player on the floor was. Since Davis couldn’t find his game offensively, he found other ways to impact the game by dominating the glass and also by recording 6 blocks. His help-side defense affected the way Kansas players attacked the basket. He also contributed offensively with 5 assists. The bottom line is that he found other ways to be a contributor on the floor. Anthony Davis has value.

As a player, what is your value to the team that you play for? Other than scoring points, what other skills do you truly want to be better at so that you can contribute those skills to help your team win. Are you really about winning? Or are you just concerned about how many points you score? Other than scoring, what other things are you good at that makes it difficult for your coach to take you out the game?

When I am coaching, I am constantly evaluating players. I am constantly weighing each advantage and disadvantage of having a player in the game.  I am looking for his value.  The fact of the matter is, while every player cannot be a scorer on the court, every player CAN be a major contributor to their team’s effort to win a ball game. You must do enough positive things on the floor to help your team win. Every player should have role, and they should embrace that role. The problem is, many players are simply too selfish to want to do anything else if their role isn’t to be a scorer. Scoring is what gets the headlines. Scoring is what makes you popular among your peers. It’s the most commonly asked question by family members, friends, and classmates.

“Well, how many points did you score?”

No one is asking you how many times did you dive on the floor after a loose ball or how many rebounds did you end up with. Nobody is patting you on the back for the two charges you took in the game other than your coaches and teammates. Instant popularity isn’t coming your way any time soon if you are good at setting screens to get other players open.

The question is, are you about popularity or are you about winning? Coaches are always about winning. Trust me, it would benefit the player to be on the same page with their coach. If you aren’t scoring, you shouldn’t ever be pouting or feeling down on your self. When you do that, it is called selfishness. You must figure out other ways to contribute. You must work on other skills that will keep you on the floor. Are you willing to figure out other ways to make a positive contribution?

So what other contributions can you make aside from scoring buckets you ask?

Here are a few:

Be a good rebounder
(box out).

Be a good TEAM defender (playing good help side defense).

Be a good talker on defense.

Be a good ball handler (commit no turnovers).

Take charges (not flopping, but legitimate charges).

Be a good passer.

Set great screens(Get your teammates open).

Be a “ball hawk” (getting the ball for your team: diving on the floor after every loose ball, getting deflections on defense).

Be a good leader/ teammate (picking up teammates when they are down, staying up beat and keeping everyone positive).

Remember, if you have been lucky enough to make a basketball team, the coaches chose YOU to be on the team for a reason…not just to fill a space. It is because you have potential that, more often than not, you don’t even realize you have as a player. Your coach did not choose everyone for their scoring ability. Everyone can’t be a scorer, but there isn’t any reason why everyone can’t be a contributor. Don’t make it easy for your coach. Find a way to make it hard for your coaches to keep you off the floor.  Be sure to be a player that has value.


2 thoughts on “Are you a valuable player?”

  1. We recently had an open gym, and this post was right in tune. I had one player who I thought had a great day. Defended, rebounded, moved the ball quickly. Near the end he was upset because other guys got all the shots and touches on offense. I told him you had a way better day than all those other guys that turned it over and missed shots. Not sure he got the point yet, but I did. Great post.

  2. Great thoughts here. Young players often feel like their value is only measured in terms of filling up the stats sheet. One of the things to look for in evaluating “talent” is who “gets” the fact they are valuable in ways other than scoring. Those who get satisfaction out of boxing out, setting screens, diving for loose balls, taking charges, etc. are equally as valuable components as those dead-eye shooters and adept ball-handlers. There’s only one ball. Players who embrace that and “see the whole picture” are necessary for success.

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