The Basketball Podcast: EP249 with Ben Taylor on Thinking Basketball

RELEASE DATE : 04/01/2023

In this week’s coaching conversation, the founder of Thinking Basketball Ben Taylor joins the Basketball Podcast to challenge and dive deeper into new and old basketball concepts that can help our coaching.

Ben Taylor is the founder of the Thinking Basketball YouTube channel, podcast and author of Thinking Basketball the book. In all his platforms, Taylor goes deeper on basketball analysis, history, philosophy and theory. Thinking Basketball challenges a number of common beliefs about the game by taking a deep dive into the patterns and history of the NBA. He explores how certain myths arose while using our own cognition as a window into the game’s popular narratives. 

Ben is a behavioral scientist who loves basketball. He has had his Thinking Basketball blog in some form or another since 2011. Since then he has developed a bunch of historical metrics, hand-tracked hundreds of games, tried to start a basketball data company, written a book about basketball and cognition, and started creating podcasts / YouTube content about the NBA. 

Listen Here:

Ben Taylor Thinking Basketball Quotes:

“When you coach, you build up expertise in coaching; . . when you’re a video coordinator, when you’re a scout, your eye is trained to look at different things. So, each sort of role brings different expertise to the table . . When we come together as a team . . how can we maximize each person’s expertise?”

“I studied cognitive science, which is all about how we learn and how we communicate and how we process information.”

“This is something that I’ve talked to NBA organizations about, how do we communicate from our data analytics department through our coaching staff down to the players, pieces of data that are actionable that they can use in a game? What you don’t want to do is give them something super complex, what you don’t want to do is add unnecessary vocabulary.”

“One of the areas I talked about is cognitive athleticism. Your decision making centers are a huge part of athleticism and what’s going on on the court. But your nervous system is also this thing that’s happening under time pressure.”

“We care about the five pieces on the court working together to try to score as efficiently as possible or try to stop the opponent as efficiently as possible.”

“Results oriented thinking versus process oriented thinking; it doesn’t apply to everything, but basketball, much like poker, is something where you’re going to do the right thing a handful of times, not just once, . . and sometimes you might do it a handful of times consecutively and the results go against you.”

“As long as you’re learning from mistakes and understanding the process as you go forward, I think that’s how you go from game to game and say we’re getting better.”

“The last part of the cognitive science background is how we perceive and talk about the events after they happen.”

“The key to me about the spacing boom is taking the post up as a valuable shot, which clogs up one of the high value areas on the court, and moving guys out of that space . . and saying, ‘What happens if we leave that space open, and we can cut into that space from four different directions?’”

“When you stand around on offense, you make these defensive principles so much easier to execute. When you start moving, cutting, screening, it becomes a nightmare.”

“You can strip out the skill sets and you can say, he’s a great ball handler, he’s a great shooter, he’s really strong, he’s got a great vertical leap, and those things all matter. But when you start breaking down the film you’re like, ‘This guy is just a much better decision maker than this other player.”

Ben Taylor Thinking Basketball Breakdown:

1:00 – Difficult Concepts
5:00 – Cognitive Scientist
8:00 – Applied Science
11:00 – Not Connecting Perception
13:30 – Data Gathering
15:00 – Evaluating Their Defense
17:00 – Old vs New School Thinking
20:00 – Advocating Coaches
22:00 – Lob Pass
24:30 – Passing
28:30 – Yoga
31:17 – 32:00 – Membership Sales Ads
32:00 – Split Cut
34:00 – The Right Structure
38:00 – Coaching Perspective
42:00 – Concept of pre Switching
46:00 – Adaptability
50:00 – Overload Concept
55:00 – NBA Skill Sets
59:00 – Goal of Offense
1:02:00 – Empowering Players

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