For most players, the difference between being "good" and "great" comes down to basketball IQ. Talent and athleticism can get you very far, especially at a young age, but as you get older and the competition starts to picks up, being able to understand and develop a true feel for the game becomes essential. Think about all of the legendary players who have left their mark and made a true impact on their programs, whether it be professionally or at the collegiate level, big school or small, there is something that they all have in common; HIGH Basketball IQs.
If you're not sure what I mean by high basketball IQ, it's basically just a way to describe someone who demonstrates an understanding of the relationship between fundamentals, time & score and X's & O's, while relying on their instincts to make the right play depending on the situation.
Basketball IQ is something that is developed and certainly influenced by your environment and style of play you are accustomed too. Coaches, trainers, teammates and even your parents shape the way you see and play the game of basketball, whether you like it or not. For example, I grew up playing in both indoor and outdoor leagues in New York City...all we did was set ball screens and play 1 on 1. We pushed the pace, running in transition for layups and once the defense was set, I set a ball screen for my PG and learned to play off of it. But things changed when I got to college, as Quinnipiac's style of play was much different. I had to learn how to move, cut & screen in a motion offense and there were virtually no ball screens. As you can imagine it was an adjustment, but I was able to make that change MUCH faster than most because I prided myself of having a high basketball IQ.
I was never the fastest or most athletic player on the court, honestly, I was probably the slowest and least athletic haha, but I relied on my feel for the game to get to my spots and be as efficient as possible. I credit this to my consistent desire to WATCH the game of basketball. Whether it was live on TV, replays on the computer or even my own old games... I was ALWAYS watching basketball. I remember getting home from school in 6th or 7th grade and bringing a laptop right outside the back door of my house to ensure I didn't lose the
Wi-Fi connection... Then I would search up the move or player that I was obsessed with at the time, usually stumbling upon a Ganon Baker video or a similar tutorial, and spending HOURS trying to master whatever it is I was focused on.
I truly believe that watching the game of basketball will significantly increase the speed at which you improve and give you an advantage over your opponents. Knowing that you've seen and tried something before gives you the upper hand and a feeling of confidence. Whether it be recognizing a play that the opponent is running at the end of a tight game because you saw your favorite team run one similar a few nights ago on TV, or scoring over a defender with a fadeaway jump shot that you studied and practiced a million times the night before, those that study the game of basketball will be more likely to separate themselves from the competition by being more prepared to handle change and adjust in moments of adversity.