The best basketball practices I’ve attended always feature a lengthy segment dedicated to passing. Passing moves quickly. Passing pushes the tempo. Passing has a gracefulness to it.
Sure, dribbling is critical to success but those drills typically feature one player pounding the ball. And, you can’t score if you don’t shoot well, but, again, even the most fluid shooting drills can be derailed by an errant shot or bounding ball.
And while it may be considered a lost art in today’s game, the teams with the best passers find a way to score more points, and win more games.
Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers is one of the best point guards on the planet. He spreads the ball around the floor. He knows how to lead teammates to tiny shooting windows on the court.
To make a case for passing, you just have to compare the fortunes of New Orleans and the Clippers with and without Paul. In his last season (2010-11) with the Hornets, Paul pushed New Orleans to a 46-36 record while finishing fourth in the league with 9.8 assists per game to help the squad score 94.9 points per contest. In that same season, the Clippers posted a mark of 32-50.
In 2011-12, his first season in Los Angeles, Paul led the Clippers to a 40-26 record (lockout-shortened season) while finishing third in the league with 9.1 assists per game. The Clippers scored 97.5 points per game while the Hornets saw their scoring average fall to a dismal 89.6 points while only winning 21 games.
Sure, Paul wasn’t the only moving piece on those teams but it provides a glimpse into how important it is to have an elite passer on your squad.
To improve your passing, check out this drill and this passing drill from Bruce Bouck, the president of the Mansfield Youth Basketball Association (Mass.). He says he adapted the first drill (Passing Line Sequences) from longtime college coach, Kevin O’Brien, who is currently the director of Rising Star Basketball School in Massachusetts.