In this week’s coaching conversation, NBA Staff Editor for The Athletic and author Mike Prada joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on how spacing and the three-point shot changed how we coach.
Mike Prada is an NBA analyst, writer and editor who specializes in writing about dense topics like Xs and Os in a way all fans can understand. He currently works for The Athletic after spending 10 years running SB Nation’s NBA coverage. He is the author of Spaced Out: How the NBA’s Three-Point Revolution Changed Everything You Thought You Knew About Basketball, published by Triumph Books.
Spaced Out tells the story of what professional basketball looks like right now and how it got here. Taking a court-level view, Mike Prada breaks down high-level play to elucidate the athleticism, strategy, and skill demonstrated on a nighty basis, while shining a light on the historical forces that have dramatically altered the shape of the game and the role of its superstars.
Topics covered include the explosion of three point shooting, the rise and fall and rise again of zone defense, the impact of tighter enforcement of perimeter contact rules, and other pivotal factors impacting the pro game.
Mike Prada Quotes:
“A lot of the lesson is to let the players get space to play, trust them a little bit more, a little less calling plays and directing diagrams and trust a little more that if you put them in positions, they’ll figure it out.”
“To generate three-point shots, you’re asking people to go into different spaces on the floor. Even though the court wasn’t bigger, what players were actually required to cover had gotten a lot bigger. And that’s really where the whole thing kind of started.”
“More space allows you to do so many different things, it really does allow the game to breathe. I think to be able to get to that point, a lot of coaches had to accept that there are more things that can happen in that space, so there’s less you can control about what happens.”
“I would rather see movement charts than shot charts. I think that would be much more instructive to illustrate the difference in this game.”
“Every zone of two point shooting, from layups to long mid-range shots, is at a higher percentage than it’s ever been. The reason for that is everybody’s coming out to the three-point line, there’s more space to operate . .and the right people are shooting the shots. There’s a merging of math and feel that’s sort of exploded into what we have now.”
“As a coach, you’ve got to filter the message down through so many different people and do so much one-on-one.”
“If they do really well, do I get credit? Or does that person get credit? Am I valuable because I knew who to pass that [problem] on to? Or am I less valuable because somebody else solved the problem for me?”
“I think the real challenge for defense going forward is, at some point, you just have to decide what you’re taking away and what you’re willing to live with.”
“At a certain point, you have to ask yourself, ‘Where are the spaces we want players to go in? Where are the ones that we cannot live with under any circumstances?” There has to be a more collective understanding, whether you’re playing man or zone, that this is where we cannot let the person go. This is where we are trying to force you to. And this is an outcome that we will just have to live with.”
Mike Prada Breakdown:
1:00 – Spaced Out Book
4:30 – Importance of Space
8:00 – Shooting the Three
13:00 – Three-Point Revolution
17:30 – Humans Playing Humans
25:00 – Off The Ball
28:00 – Analytics
30:00 – Position Less Basketball
32:30 – Defining Players by Position
36:00 – Giving Freedom
38:00 – Big Team Talk
40:00 – Predefined Role
43:00 – Notice Progress
46:00 – Impact on Offense and Space Created
51:00 – Evolution in Coaching
54:30 – Curiosity
Mike Prada Links from the Podcast:
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