Basketball is a fun sport that can be thrilling to watch. It's tempo and high scoring games are exciting affairs, good for TV or live at the event. The game is at its best when all five players on the court are playing with great teamwork and chemistry.
One of the problems fans new to the game have is that they are always watching the ball or the player with the ball. When this happens all you notice is a one player show and then after a while he shoots or passes to someone else and then you watch that player’s one man show. This can be boring. It's especially boring when the team you're watching does not have a gifted one on one scorer
When you are ball watching you miss things like offensive players moving without the ball. You miss the screens, picks, back door cuts and seal-offs. You miss noticing if the defense is playing a man to man or a zone defense. If it’s zone is it a 2-3, 1-3-1, 2-1-2 or even the rare box-and-1?
Watch the Game with Your Peripheral Vision
In order to notice more of the exciting little things in basketball, try fixing your eyes on the middle of the lane while watching all the movement with your peripheral vision. This takes some getting used to as it feels un-natural to watch a game this way. It's ok to watch a player in the lane but always be seeing with your periphery.
You will begin to notice the offense's motion and ball movement as well as the defenses reaction to it. One of my favorite things to watch is great “help defense”. This occurs when a defender leaves his man to “help” the defender guarding the ball who has been beaten. What makes the help defense great though is when a 3rd defender leaves his man to guard the 2nd defender’s man and even a 4th defender leaves to guard the 3rd defender’s man. Because one man goes to help the entire defense shifts responsibilities. When done quickly the offense will be unable to pass the ball to an open player even though there should be an open player since one defender got beat.
Another great thing to see is when the offense is making many quick passes around the floor forcing the defense to shift to one side and then quickly adjust to the other side when the ball is moved. Defenders who were in good defensive position can get screened and sealed-off when the ball suddenly reverses to the other side of the court. Now they are in poor defensive position and the offense can have an opportunity to score.
Once you begin to see the little things happen through your peripheral vision, your appreciation for the skill the players have and their hard work in practice will rise. You will find that there is more going on than you can evaluate. You will see the games within the game. And at that point you will be well on your way to becoming a basketball fan.