Let's face it—there are some brutally bad teams out there. Even some of the good ones can't play high quality basketball with consistency.
Assuming you're a superfan of the NBA and not unfunny comedies or Court TV, you choose the game. But you do so with a different mindset than usual. Strap on your bad-basketball goggles, stethoscope and white lab coat and prepare to play hoops doctor.
There are certain tendencies to watch for that are initially tough to spot. Try and diagnose your patient and come up with a remedy.
Pay attention to how a specific player moves without the basketball. Some guys just jog around the perimeter like headless chickens or children at recess. What separates the good shooters from the great ones is the ability to get open.
The top off-the-ball scorers are the ones who make every cut, curl and flash with purpose. Whether it's changing speeds or rubbing off screens, how a player moves without the ball can determine the difficulty of his shot selection.
I'll let Rip Hamilton show you how it's done:
Look out for rebounding habits. Bad boarding is easy to spot. Focus on one particular forward when a shot goes up, and watch how he reacts.
Good rebounders see the ball leave the shooter's hands and immediately look to position themselves. The bad ones look up and stare as if they are following a shooting star. It takes them a fraction of a second longer to react and anticipate, which usually makes a world of difference.
Some bigs just don't bother boxing out at all. Top talents on the glass are quick enough to locate their man, seal him off and make a play on the ball, all within a matter of one or two seconds. The less effective rebounders just aren't capable of multitasking to that degree.
Watch how players defend off the ball. Many of them use this time to rest, knowing the attention is focused elsewhere. The top perimeter defenders harass their assignments, even when the rock is in someone else's hands.
Notice the tendencies of screeners. Some of them simply go through the motions without actually setting a firm pick. Others salivate at the prospect of blindsiding a helpless defender and annihilating him with a vicious body check.
A good off-ball screen can be the difference between an open look and a contested one. Rarely does an effective screener get credit for his services. Be the educated viewer who recognizes a good screen from a bad one, and tweet it out to your followers.
The last way to watch a terrible NBA game is with a bottle of Jack Daniels, but only if you're 21 years old of course. This addition also works with terrible music, terrible food and at times, terrible people.
To the NBA superfan, there's really no such thing as terrible basketball. If you're looking to fully understand the game, you can probably get something out of every single possession, whether it results in an alley-oop, missed three-pointer or a turnover.
Sometimes it's the little things that separate the consistent winners from the consistent losers. If you're an NBA superfan, you should be able to spot what they are.
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