How to Improve Basketball IQ: What Is It and How to Develop It

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IQ refers to intelligence quotient. Short explanation, this is a calculation of human intelligence from scores obtained from a set of tests. On the other hand, Basketball IQ refers to a player’s intelligence while performing on the court. Would you like to know how to improve your basketball IQ?

We understand that being a smart player is equally important as being a player that plays hard. If you’re able to play smart you may be able to win games without playing hard. Well, maybe not that you won’t have to play hard, but maybe you won’t have to play as hard as before. In this article today, we will be reviewing how to improve your basketball IQ in detail.

What is Basketball IQWhat is Basketball IQ?

There is no way to test one’s basketball IQ, and because of this, there is no set the definition for the term. Even though basketball IQ is not definitively defined, there is a general understanding of the term.

It may vary slightly based on who you ask, but basketball IQ is a term that refers to how well a basketball player is capable of reading the game and making decisions based on his understanding of the game. Players with High basketball IQ are said to play the game the right way. Let’s take an even closer look at what basketball IQ is.

Some people believe that a basketball IQ is it seeing every move that the opponents will make even before they make them. This is most certainly not the case. It is impossible to predict every move that your opponent may make as your opponents have choices. Basketball IQ is something that can be developed by learning general reactions of basketball players in certain situations.

This can be done by watching different teams’ tapes to see how certain teams play, see how certain individuals play on defense, offense, and understand how coaches think. This information can then be put together to determine some of the possible ways players will react, or teams will play if they are placed in a particular situation.

Players with high basketball IQ will then take the information they have and make educated guesses for calculated moves or understand what play the opponents will make next. They can also do plays that will force their opponent’s had in a favorable manner for them. Knowing the information is one thing, but players with high basketball IQ also know the best way to act on the reactions that are caused on the basketball court.

It makes no sense to know that a particular player will make a move to their right and still do nothing to capitalize on this. In addition to calculating possible responses and reacting, players that are considered to have high basketball IQ tend to see the court differently than other players. Some players, based on their physical or mental attributes, see the entire floor easier than other players do.

The ability to do this comes from years of practice on the basketball court or in other exercises that enable a player to think while under immense pressure and maintain focus enough to calculate and then carry out the right play. As you can now understand, many things go into basketball IQ. It is not something that can be forced; however, it develops over time as you invest in your overall game.

Who Has the Highest Basketball IQWho Has the Highest Basketball IQ?

Who Has the Highest Basketball IQ

Who has the highest basketball IQ in basketball today? Remember that basketball IQ is not something that can be measured, so it is really impossible to say who has the best basketball IQ. Many players are clearly smarter on the basketball court than others. However, if you were to ask a group of fans which player has the smartest basketball player, you may end up with different answers.

Certain players played in the past that were extremely smart in the way they went about their jobs on the court such as Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, Mark Jackson, and Magic johnson.

Steve Nash

Steve Nash came from a soccer background, and this definitely helped him with the way he was able to view the court and see plays before they developed. Steve Nash’s ability to see the court from a view outside of the box helped him get easy assist while making his teammates better. Steve Nash is third on the NBA’s all-time assist list. Steve is well known for his passes that seem to originate from nowhere.

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd is often said to be the prototype for Chris Paul. During his time in the NBA, Jason Kidd was known as an elite floor general who was able to dictate the flow of the game with the ball in his hand.

Jason is a Hall of Famer that won rookie of the year in the 1994 NBA season while playing for the Dallas Mavericks. He performed so well in his early career, he was an All-Star in his second season. Jason’s ability to see the court has allowed him to be second on the NBA’s all-time assist list.

John Stockton

There is a reason why this 10-time all-star Hall of Famer leads the NBA in assists and steals for all time. This legendary Jazz player led the Jazz to the Playoffs more years than most players play in the NBA. John Stockton used his basketball IQ on both ends of the floor to help his team.

Mark Jackson

This rule changer may not be very well known to younger players, but he is one of the smartest players to ever play in the NBA. He was a bright student of the game on both offense and defense. He was able to read and react to the things happening on the court so well that he managed 10,323 assists (4th all-time) and 1,608 steals (23rd all time).

Magic Johnson

Do we need to explain why he is here? One of the greatest guards of all time, Magic is often said to have eyes in the back of his head. Magic was definitely magic while he played. He made the showtime lakers worth the name. He could see passes and make them like no other in his day.

Now on to the present, we have players that are playing in the NBA that view the game through different lenses when you compare them to other NBA players. These players are able to see and make correct passes or make exceptional defensive plays by anticipating their opponent’s next moves.

Remember, anticipating the move is the final culmination of recon and practice that these players put together and make a final decision. Some of the highest basketball IQ players in the NBA today are Chris Paul, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, James Harden, and Ricky Rubio.

Who has the highest basketball IQ in basketball today

Chris Paul

It would seem as if the term “floor general” was coined for Chris Paul. Chris Paul has been a remarkable point guard that has been able to lead his team on the court since he entered the NBA.

He is not necessarily A high-volume scorer, but that is not what basketball IQ is about. Chris Paul is one of the league leaders in assist year after year and can set up his teammates for plays that other players would find it difficult to see.

LeBron James

LeBron James is often said to be one of the best passers in basketball. His ability to pass the ball over the defense is one thing, but his ability to see these passes is another. You can credit high basketball IQ for him being able to create and make open passes to his teammates.

LeBron James is often criticized for its lack of killer instinct, but is it a lack of killer instinct, or is it a mental condition to always make the right play. This topic is still out for debate.

Rajon Rondo

This guy is one of the few other players in the NBA who have been described as a floor general in the past. Rondo is often praised for his in-depth knowledge of basketball, and the fact is that he is an astute student of the game. Rondo is known to understand plays more than the average player and is capable of running an offense regardless of who he plays with.

James Harden

James Harden is not often recognized as a player with a high basketball IQ, so what is he doing on this list? Well, James Harden, in our opinion, is one of the players with the highest basketball IQ because he has single-handedly changed the way that the Rockets play.

Regardless of how people criticize him and his isolation pleays, we must admit he must be quite smart if he is able to win the league MVP with this type of play. He has been able to manipulate defenders to get any shot that he wants, and he is also quite smart with how he gets to the free-throw line.

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio may be the only player on this list that is not a  typical NBA star. If you have been following Ricky Rubio’s career, you know that he has eyes in the back and the sides of his head. Ricky has always been able to manage his team’s offense and set up his teammates for finishes. Ricky Rubio may not be an elite scorer, however, he is definitely an elite passer.

7 Ways to Improve Your Basketball IQ7 Ways to Improve Your Basketball IQ

Over time, some players naturally develop higher basketball IQs from the activities they involve themselves in both inside and outside of basketball. The good news for you is that you can improve your basketball IQ if you do the right things.

Having a high basketball IQ would make you an asset to your team, and get you more playing time from your coaches. Players with high basketball IQ can change the game in more than one. Let’s discuss ways to improve your basketball IQ to benefit yourself and your team.

Study the Game

If you become a true student of the game, your basketball IQ will improve drastically. When we say become a student of the game, we mean watch films so that you can learn how other great players play the game.

If you take the time to watch films, read basketball books and listen to other players speak on how they got so great at what they do, then you will develop a deeper understanding of basketball that you can apply to the way you play.

7 Ways to Improve Your Basketball IQ

Listen to All Your Coaches

Your coaches are some of the biggest sources of knowledge that you can ever hope for. Your coaches have been studying different aspects of basketball, and they want nothing more than the team’s success, so they will try to guide you in the right way.

If you take the time to truly listen and understand why they ask you to do, you will start to look at the game from a coach’s perspective as well. If you play the game as both a coach and a player, you will find that basketball will become a lot easier.

Study Playbooks

Your playbooks contain plays and strategies on both defense and offense. These plays and strategies are useful while playing. Understanding the plays will not only allow you to complete them in a set way, but you will also be able to mix and match different plays to get better results. Different teams will use some similar plays, so if you understand the plays, you can counter them more efficiently.

Try to Understand the Way your Teammates Play

Your teammates are the guys you go to battle with. Different players will play the game differently; you must understand how they play to efficiently utilize them. For example, if you know that your shooting guard always fakes a cut to the middle and then cuts back to the parameter to get an open shot, you can drive to the basket to pull in the defenders and then do a no-look pass to the perimeter because you know you’re shooting guard will be there waiting for that open shot.

Play Games that Help with Strategic Thinking

Basketball is a very strategic sport, however, there are games and other sports that you can play to help you with your strategic thinking. For example, playing chess will help you to work on staying one or more moves ahead of your opponent.

There are multiple different games that you can play to help your brain with its strategic functions. Being a better strategic thinker will raise your basketball IQ.

Do Exercises that Help You to Make Faster Decisions

Thinking quickly is of the same importance as thinking strategically. The dynamic nature of basketball requires that players can make good snap decisions. Being able to make great decisions at a very fast pace is definitely a characteristic of a player with a high basketball IQ.

You can improve the speed at which you think by doing external activities such as playing fast-paced video games and other things to help you become a faster thinker.

Build Your Confidence Through Practice

Understanding the game will be of no significance if you don’t have the confidence to execute what’s in your mind. Work on your confidence by consistently practicing new ways to play the game with your team.

What are the Indications a Certain Player is High in Basketball IQWhat are the Indications a Certain Player is High in Basketball IQ?

What are the Indications a Certain Player is High in Basketball IQ

There are certain things that a player does that will immediately let you know this player is thinking above the average. If you notice players making passes that other players do not see or anticipate and stealing passes that other players would not, this is an indication of high basketball IQ.

High basketball IQ can also be identified when you see players setting up their team while dribbling the ball in such a way that results in a basket that the defense could not predict. You can also identify high basketball IQ players by the speed at which they make good decisions. Some players will take from average to long times to see the right play, but some players make snap decisions that are the best.

7 Videos of High Basketball IQ Plays7 Videos of High Basketball IQ Plays

Here are some plays that we have seen that we can definitely attribute to high basketball IQ.

Hitting the ball off an opponent while heading out of bounds.

Doing a tap pass to a teammate while the defense is expecting you to catch the ball and make a play

Dodging behind players and then shooting the passing lane for a steal

Faking passes when the defense overplays a play and then go to the rim for a finish

Ball faking expected passes and then find open cutters

Playing doggy ball denial while guarding bigger or exceptionally offensive talented players

Passing the ball over player’s shoulders and between their legs so it can’t be stolen.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Improve Basketball IQ

You can improve your basketball IQ by becoming a student of the game, learn different basketball plays, work on your strategic thinking, and work on the speed at which you make decisions while playing. Having an improved IQ will benefit your team and your personal basketball growth.

Did you find this helpful? Then also check out other basketball FAQ articles here.

> How to Get Better at Basketball: Tips & Drills

> Basketball Defensive Stance: What is It and How to Get Into It?

> Guarding in Basketball: Tips to Good Lockdown Defense

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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