Opinion and EditorialSports

A Guide to Understanding Basketball

It’s that time of the year again: the NBA finals.

lebron-james-stephen-curry-nba-playoffs-cleveland-cavaliers-golden-state-warriors-850x560To some that doesn’t mean much and to others it’s simply another reason as to why “ball is life.” Whether you’re an eat and sleep it type of basketball fan or simply watch for the entertaining dramatics on and off the court, there will always be that one friend who watches along but still doesn’t fully understand the game. If that friend is you, maybe you only watch to see the latest spotlight stealing antics of Riley Curry. This is a series for the ages, a legend (LeBron James) versus a somewhat rookie player (Steph Curry). Who will win the title of champion, the Golden State Warriors or LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers?  We may not know until game seven is among us.

As for those who may be lacking knowledge in basketball terminology, we’re here to help you understand at the least the basics to get you through the finals. So, here’s what you need to know before you watch the next big match up.

Basketball is a game comprised of five players on the court at all times. It’s a full court game where all ten players on the court will play both offensive and defensive positions. At times the positions may be referred to as numbers one through five.

The official titles are; point guard (PG or 1) shooting guard (SG/2), power forward (PF/3), small forward (SF/4), and center (C/5). Basketball_PositionsTypically, the center will be the tallest on the team making it easier to guard the paint (or the area surrounding the net). That being said, here are the terms most commonly heard during a game that you may need to know.


  1. Post Up– Position yourself “down low” near the basket in a defensive stance, typically below the foul line.
  2. GOAT– Greatest Of All Time; few have earned this coveted title but Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and currently LeBron James all hold that honor.
  3. Triple Double– LeBron James achieved this game two of the NBA finals series. They occur when a player achieves double digits in game stats for three areas; either points, assists, total rebounds, steals and blocks.
  4. Box Out– A defensive move used when going for a rebound, a player “boxes out” their opponent by squaring up to the net with their back in front of them blocking any chance to get the ball back.Stephen Curry Boxes Out Dwight Howard Shot Science
  5. Hit the shot from downtown– This means taking an out of range shot far from the net.
  6. Brick shot– A shot attempt that is badly missed.
  7. Draining threes– When a player goes on a streak of making three point shots in the game.
  8. Bank Shot– Hitting the shot off the backboard and “banking it” into the net.lebron-bank-2-21-131
  9. 6th Man– In this series Andre Iguodala, (A former Philadelphia Sixers starter) is commonly referred to as the sixth man, because he does more than the likes of a benchwarmer. Simply, this is a player who puts up high numbers, but does not always start.
  10. Alley Oop– Is an offensive shooting play involving two players, where one tosses up the ball to the other player and they jump up to catch and dunk the ball.tumblr_mqh3woRbqh1szoc93o1_400
  11. Lay- Up– A shooting attempt made where the player with the ball takes three steps with a dribble to the net and puts the ball in with one hand into the net.
  12. Fade away shot– Is a jump shot that is made to look like the shooter is fading away as they lean backwards while releasing the ball into the shot. (Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are known for the use of the fade away)kobe-bryant-fadeaway-over-brandon-rush
  13. Reverse pivot– Commonly called “drop step” where the player who is posting up takes a step back behind their defender while making a quick move to gain more momentum on the play.
  14. Nothin’ but net– A shot made without hitting the rim or the backboard.steph-curry-drops-chris-paul-gif
  15. Pick and Roll– A offensive play where one player sets a pick, or sets a screen on the defensive player then rolls behind to accept the pass from the ball handler.t-jones-pick-n-roll-o
  16. Pick– This is also commonly called a screen, this occurs when the offensive player makes an attempt to block a defensive player who is guarding, freeing up an offensive player for the shot.
  17. Give and Go– An offensive play, run by the ball handler (usually the point guard) where the player passes the ball then runs towards an opening down low to make an easy basket.
  18. 3 Pointer– This is rather self explanatory; it’s when the offensive player makes a shot outside the arc counting for three points instead of the normal two.jordan-shrug-small
  19. Cross over dribble– The ball handler starts out with the ball in his left hand and switches to his right and vice versa.
  20. Arc Pass– This is self explanatory, but not the ideal pass to be made. It’s usually best used when doubled teamed or cornered.
  21. Bounce Pass– A pass made where one steps into their pass and makes an easy throw.

Hopefully this helped provide a better understanding to some, if there’s any questions feel free to leave comments! Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy watching one of the greatest games to be played.  As for who will win the championship title, only Riley Curry can answer that.