If you want to become an elite playmaker like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Kyrie Irving, you must develop the qualities below.
After reading the article, we'd also like to hear your thoughts about other qualities that you think are vital for elite guards. Just leave a comment below.
1. Great Ball Handlers - Not Great Dribblers
You might be thinking, DUH! But the truth is that I don't think that many players and even some coaches understand the difference between dribbling and ball handling. I know that I didn't at first.
You can be a great dribbler, but a terrible ball handler. You can also be a great ball handler and a good dribbler.
For example, you might always catch and dribble. You overdribble the ball and the offense stagnates. It takes you 7 dribbles and 4 moves for you to get to the basket from the 3-point line. These are examples of somebody who may be a great dribbler, but a very poor ball handler.
Great ball handling encompasses the skill of dribbling, passing, and the ability to make good decisions on the court. Things like...
- Dribbling when necessary. Not just catching and pounding the ball.
- Dribbling effectively. Getting to the basket from anywhere in the half court in 1 to 2 dribbles.
- Making great decisions in game-like situations such as the fast break, off of ball screens, finding the open man, passing out of traps, etc.
Don't be a great dribbler. Be a great ball handler.
2. Good Shooters That Affect The Game Without Even Shooting
If you want to be a threat on the floor, you absolutely need to work on your shot. Being a good shooter will open driving lanes, passing lanes, and so much more for your team.
If you can shoot the ball and the defense does not close out on you fast enough, you hit the jumper. If they take away the shot, it's time to take it to the hoop, create havoc on the defense, finish at the basket, and create easy scoring opportunities for your teammates.
Now if you don't shoot the ball well, you will have difficulty getting to the basket because the defense doesn't have to rush out on you. You go from multi-threat to a no threat.
Players that can shoot and handle the ball are the best in the business.
3. Play With Composure
Great playmakers have the same mentality when they're down by 20, up by 20, have 4 defenders blitzing them, or playing against sagging zone defense. For these players, it's just time to stay composed, execute, and go to work.
If you get too high or too low, this can affect your play and decision-making. By staying composed and alert, this will dramatically improve your decisions and lead to better team play.
4. Great Finishers
Elite playmakers develop great finishing moves to finish over taller, more athletic players. Each level that you go up in the game of basketball, your goal is to get the ball to the backboard or the rim as quickly as possible as athletic defenders rotating from the weakside make a living blocking the shots off of "dipsy-do" finishers.
You want to develop finishing moves like the quick lay in, the floater, the side step, the quick stop, and the spin fake.
Pick a couple of moves and become great at them. Personally, I like my players to quick stop to change pace and direction to keep the defense off balance and then I'll add one of the moves above based on strengths. Once you become great at those two moves, you can look to add more moves that complement your strengths.
5. Communicate Effectively
There is a difference between communicating and communicating effectively. Being able to communicate your message in a clear, concise manner to your teammates and coaches is critical. Going on a 30 second rant isn't feasible and effective during games.
Say things like…
- Get your butt down on the box out.
- Seal him on the backside.
- Sprint back on D.
- Finish through the defense.
- Kick it out when they collapse.
Also being able to communicate in a positive way that your teammates respect you is crucial. If you're going to correct a teammate when they do something wrong, you better be the first one there when they do something right.
While there are certainly other things that elite playmakers do well, we hope this helps you in your process into becoming a great playmaker.
Breakthrough Basketball Camps
Our Complete Player Youth Skills Camps are great for any youth and middle school player. We teach the foundational skills and teach them how to play the game in a team setting.
If you're serious about the game, we have our Elite Guard Camps, Attack & Counter Camps, and BDT Camps. Each camp has a slightly different style and approach. However, we believe every player can pick up specific things from each camp that makes them a better player.
We also have a Next Level Camp for high school and college players.
Our Breakthough directors have worked with McDonald's All Americans, players that have attended elite college programs such as Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, and many more programs. They have even worked with NBA all stars.