Making the Grade
Every game you play your teammates are watching you and judging you, and they’re not a particularly kind audience. Your teammates aren’t just an abstract concept to worry about, either, as their grade serves as a modifier to your earnings. Happy teammates mean more virtual currency to spend on becoming the kind of player who belongs on an NBA court. If you play selfishly, chucking up bad shots or making hero drives to try to pad your stat line, expect your teammate grade to suffer. Instead, particularly early in your career when everyone around you is more deserving of the big moment, play unselfishly to speed up your development.
- -When in doubt, pass the ball. Making a good pass is an easy way to get a small boost to your grade, and also means you don’t have the opportunity to earn a negative mark.
- -Keep things moving on offense. Holding onto the ball with no signs of offense can get you dinged. This can be frustrating, particularly in situations like holding for a last shot only for your teammates to get mad you aren’t forcing things, but it’s important to know so you avoid picking up dumb negatives.
- -Don’t be a chucker. If you have an open look, you get rewarded even if you miss. Throw up a shot under heavy contest from the opposition, on the other hand, and your grade is going down.
- -Screens are your friend. Whether you are on the ball or off, a screen is a useful tool in the box. Helping to screen an opponent gives teammates clean looks, while calling for a screen offers both the breathing room to get off a shot or an opportunity to hit the screener on a roll for an assist.
- -Avoid dishing the ball into heavy traffic. Turnovers are a massive hit to your grade, and it gets worse if the opposition scores off your bad play, so err on the side of not forcing the difficult ball. This is particularly important early in your NBA career, when your minutes are likely limited, leaving you less time to make amends.
- -Hit open spaces for each praise. Just finding an open spot on the floor can earn you a bump for good spacing if your team uses it well.
- -Don’t sleep on the defensive end. Getting beat for a bucket usually leads to a defensive breakdown which is a massive shift of your grade in the wrong direction.
- -Defensive posture and raising a hand up is a safe bet. By keeping your man in front of you with a hand in his face, you make it as difficult as possible to get clean looks. Particularly when you are new to defending, sometimes avoiding disaster is good enough to keep your grade up.
- -Don’t get spam happy with the steal button. Learning to time steals is an important skill for certain builds of guards, but if you just hammer steal over and over like you’re playing NBA Jam, you’ll be riding the pine in foul trouble before you know it.