A layup is a shot attempt that’s not at the basket (although it could theoretically be), but is closer to the free-throw line (such as by the baseline or out to the 3-point line). It’s a shot that’s often missed or blocked, but is possible (especially if the defender can’t keep control of the rebound).
A common mistake with layups, especially when the game’s out of hand, is for some NBA players to “over-dribble, under-drag” the ball. This means that the ball is going from the center of the court in a way that causes it to miss the rim in favor of going outside the paint. The easiest way to understand this error is to visualize a basketball rim. Instead of the rim touching the basketball, the rim ends up on the floor behind the center of the court in a circle. The idea is that the ball’s going to go on the inside and in or outside of the arc. (Note: This isn’t as much of an issue in the NBA, but it still can affect your offense.)
This is not the only way for a ball to pass or be passed away! A player can also “throw” the ball down without passing it. This can be accomplished by throwing the ball to another player. A player could throw the ball to another player on the perimeter or even one of your own players, just to take a shot.
In this scenario, the ball could still be passed back to the original defender, but it would look more likely that the ball will be passed to his teammate.
“Over-dribbling” is a bad decision. It only causes a bad shot to be missed or blocked more often. This can happen because the defender is not giving the player that just passed the ball enough time to get one-on-one. If it were his choice to take a layup or a three-pointer instead of taking a dribble, then he would have an easier time defending it.
Let’s say Shaquille O’Neal, your 6’11” power forward, has the ball and is guarding Dwight Howard. He can’t beat him to the basket with a layup or a shot. Since the NBA is so small, we’ll expect the defender to help on Dwight. However, since we know Shaq isn’t going to make a clean layup, he’s forced to defend Howard and give him three easy opportunities to
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