Activity in Big Men
I cant stress enough to any big man that I work with or come in contact with during the year about their activity level. So much of our game especially at the grassroots level is about scoring. Players tend to grade their performance on the amount of shots they made and points that they scored. That is part of what is killing the true big man in our game today.
I think there is such a shortage of big men that can have an impact in a game on their activity level. You attend game after game and you see so many big men that refuse to run the floor, refuse to set screens, and refuse to protect the paint. There is such a need and demand for it on all levels that big men with average skill level and athletic ability can go very far in basketball if they can run the floor and be active.
There is so much emphasis on big men to score on the grassroots and college level. I have no problem with big men that want to be able to score on the block, but that should be such a small part of their game in the grand scheme of things. Rebounding, running the floor, and protecting the paint should be at the very top of any coaches expectations list when developing a big man.
Lets be honest most of the touches in a high school, AAU, or college game are going to be made by perimeter players. For the most part big men will get about 6-8 touches on any given night and will have little factor in the team’s offense. There is such a low IQ with perimeter players these days on how to enter the ball and cut the post. I could spend all day talking about this weakness in our game but will stay focused on activity level.
I tell players that I work with at every position don’t be a Cheerios player. They look at me and say what the hell is a Cheerio player. I tell them on a stat sheet besides points there are nothing but o’s across their stat sheet. With a shooting or small forward besides putting up points and maybe a few rebounds here or there sometimes they can have little impact on a game. With a big man they can score, rebound, block shots, drop a couple of assists, go to the free throw line, and a lot of other things. If they are short armed and not a shot blocker that’s ok they can constantly be moving their feet showing on pick and roll, rotating off of their man to stop a wing from penetrating, coming from the weak side to block a shot, or just alter shots by moving their feet and getting in the way of offensive players.
All big men should look at their stats and look at a few different things. First off they should grab a rebound every 4 minutes and below. Take your minutes that you played and divide it by the number of rebounds that you grab. That is the one true stat that can tell you about your activity level. Points and blocked shots can be deceiving, you can play against 6’0 post players and you are 6’11 and block 15 shots or score 47 points. I always like to see big men that can grab a rebound under every 4 minutes.
I don’t get to go to a lot of high school games throughout the year. But, last week I attended the Hoop Hall Classic high school basketball event. I watched a tandem of high school big men named Nerlens Noel and Georges Niang. I have ties to both of these players AAU team in the BABC and have had the opportunity to work with both of them. Georges is going to attend Iowa State University next fall and Nerlens is a Junior both attend Tilton Academy in New Hampshire. These two players are by far my favorite big men in the country to watch. Both are different Georges is a 6’7 bull in a china shop power forward that controls the paint on the offensive end. He is very efficient and can get his shot off against anyone. Besides being a tremendously gifted offensive player he goes after every rebound, moves his feet on defensive, and is very active on every play. His energy level probably gets him an extra 12 points a game on just offensive rebound putbacks, running the floor , and setting good screens. Nerlens is a completely different player. He stands about 6’10 give or take and has a feel for shot blocking that I have never seen out of a high school payer yet. He has such an impact on the game with his ability to alter and block shots. He goes after everything and when he blocks shots he keeps it in play. The reason why I single these two young men out is that their team is a dominating team because of their energy level. They don’t play for stats they play to win. When players call me at night to talk about their game I don’t ask them for how many points they scored or how many dunks I ask did they win. They don’t sit around calling for the ball and jog back on offense. They bust their ass on every play and try to get in on the action. They are active on every possession, play aggressive on the defensive end, and have an impact on the game. Georges averages about 26 points and 15 rebounds every time I see him play. Most of his points come on hustle plays and being aggressive. Nerlens is still developing and is one of the top Juniors in the country. If you are ever in the area make a point to watch them play or look them up on youtube.
Marcus Camby is a player with the traits that I have been talking about. He doesn’t go out and demand the ball and want to score every time he touches it. He is a player that knows his role, that wants to put his team in position to win. You’ll never see Camby scoring 25 points a game, he knows his role and that’s not it. His role is to rebound the basketball, play with energy, and protect the paint. His activity level is what wins games for Portland. He knows that LaMarcus Aldridge ,Gerald Wallace,Wesley Mathews and Jamal Crawford are the scorers for his team. After they get through with their shots that there isn’t a lot of room. Camby is averaging 23.5 MINS a game while averaging a staggering 8.9 REB a game. Don’t take your calculators out I have your back that is a rebound every 2.64/MINS That is Hall of Fame like The average person will look and see that hes averaging 3 points per game and say “wow he’s a bum”. Keep this in mind here is a guy who has played in the NBA for 15 years and has averaged 30.3 MINS a game for his career and has averaged 10.0 REB a game. That’s a career rebounding rate of a rebound every 3.03 MINS. For 15 years he’s put on his hard hat and gone to work. Some players cant do that for two games in a row, he’s done it consistently for 15 years. Here is some video from Camby’s dominating performance against The Memphis Grizzlies. He put in an average days work playing 32 MINS and grabbing 22 REB and 5BLK. Every big man at any level should want to be like Camby. Big men dont have control over how many times they get the ball, but they can control how hard they play and how active they can be.
Enjoy the Clips