I have been recently asked by a client what she should be working on in the summer. She has never played overseas but is doing her best to find representation while going to summer leagues and combines. I have to say that I respect her grind!
The summer gains for someone that has never played overseas are especially important because you have not yet made a name. My client wanted to know what attributes make a good guard in Europe. While the answer is multifaceted, it was an important question that every European pro hopeful should ask themselves.
Of course, it depends on your position. Guards are going to want to be able to move without the ball. Being a ball-pounder overseas is frowned upon. Instead of dribbling 1000 times before launching a contested three-pointer in your summer league squad, work on passing and cutting. You may not get it back, but you will be working on a skill set that is better for your future rather than receiving adulation from people that have hardly seen a European game, let alone ever played overseas.
Wing players should work on using and coming off of screens. How to set up the defender and get them off balance. Of course what you do after you get the pass is important as well. If you are a shooter, work on your quick release. If you are a driver, work on putting the ball on the floor with different finishing techniques.
Whether you are a point guard or a wing, work together with your friends on pick and roll offense AND defense. Learn how to read situations. Not just where your defender is, but also where the defense is under the basket and how they could rotate. Raising your basketball IQ is important.
For big players, the game has changed the most over the last few years. Stretch 4’s are all the rage. Even typical 3 men are being asked to play the 4. Versatility is the name of the game. Either you better specialize in something at a very high percentage, or you should be able to play multiple positions on the floor, on defense as well. Because pick and rolls are such a dominant factor, and players are shooting from way out, it is not just enough anymore to stay low in pick and roll situations. Being able to move your feet without fouling a smaller player, or being able to contest a deep shot will determine your playing time.
I asked my client what she does well. She told me. Then I asked her what she feels she has to work on. She told me. I explained that if she already knows what she doesn’t do so well, that would be the best place to start. I am sure she is in the gym right now getting to work. If you aren’t, you might be left behind. It is your choice!