What is a Heat Check in Basketball? Basketball 101

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Have you ever heard commentators or other spectators use the term heat check while you are watching a basketball game? One trendy and exciting slang in basketball is heat check. What does this mean?

Nothing can be more confusing and aggravating as when someone around you is using a phrase that you don’t know what it means, but it seems important.

We understand this feeling, and we want to remove it from your mind, so today we are going to be discussing the heat check. We will be telling you all you need to know about the heat check and why it is called the heat check.

What Defines a Heat Check in BasketballWhat Defines a Heat Check in Basketball?

Have you ever seen the players in the NBA or at your local court take shots that are ridiculously difficult or what you would call a prayer? Sometimes they make them and sometimes they don’t. Players would typically take and make a bunch of shots before they attempted these crazy shots.

Imagine a player such as yourself, taking and making a string of mid-range jumpers, and then you extend your range out to the three-point line, and you make a few of those as well. Want to test your luck? Want to see if you still have it after knocking down a few? Want to see how far you can make it rain from? Then why not take something from the Stephen Curry’s or Logo Lillard’s range? That shot right there, that super-extended shot would be the heat check.

Sometimes the heat check is not even extremely extended, but it is tough because it is a very contested shot. Sometimes players make a few open shots, and then they put up a Ray Allen 3-pointer over the entire team playing defense. That shot is also a heat check. They want to know if they are hot enough to make the next shot regardless of the difficulty involved.

Ever seen a shot taken from behind the backboard? Ever seen a shot taken while the player is fading further than a barber? These can be heat checks too. Players get so wound up after making some incredible shots before, and they feel that everything they touch is gold. They believe they have the Midas touch, so everything they get, they put up, regardless of where they are and how their body is positioned.

Surprisingly, in this fantastic game, they go in more often than you would think. Do you remember the game with Tracy McGrady against the San Antonio Spurs? Yes, that one, that is the only one we could be talking about. Don’t you believe that if Tracy McGrady took a shot from the baseline in that game, he would have scored? That is how all these guys feel when they take heat checks.

How to Tell When Someone Does a Heat CheckHow to Tell When Someone Does a Heat Check

For a shot to be considered as a heat check, it needs to be preceded by a number of other successful attempts by the same player. When you see a player go off for a quick burst of points, then put up a wild shot that you think has no chance in Hell or Heaven, that shot right there is the heat check.

Sometimes, the player taking the shot will even yell out heat check while releasing the shot. Some players are known for taking ridiculously difficult shots in the games and making them. Because these players are known for that, sometimes these heat checks may not be recognized as such, but they still are. Guys like Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, and Paul George are just a few of the guys that we know for taking recognizable heat checks.

Do not get us wrong. We know these guys did not invent the heat check. We know it’s been around as long as we can remember, we are only highlighting some of the most recognizable players that will take heat checks during games. Some players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are always expected to take heat checks throughout the games based on the nature of how they play.

If a player takes and makes a heat check shot, their confidence is blown straight through the roof of the arena and the good luck with getting them to pass up the next shot that they get. Heat checks can be detrimental if they are taken at the wrong time throughout games. Heat checks can change the momentum of a game, so players should be careful when selecting the time to take them.

We will provide an example. If a team is on the comeback trail, Players should avoid taking heat check shots until after the comeback is complete. The rally can be fuelled by the momentum and the team’s energy, and if a player ruins that by taking and missing a heat check shot, the game can swing back to their opponents.

Heat checks are great for getting the crowd on their feet and overwhelming the opposing team if the game is a home game. If the heat check shot goes in, the crowd will definitely go berserk. If it is an away game, heat check shots can also quiet the away fans and allow the vibe in the arena the drop.

How a Heat Check is Incorporated into NBA Video GamesHow a Heat Check is Incorporated into NBA Video Games

The video game franchise 2K sports has incorporated a feature into their NBA games called heat check cards. The heat check cards may have been better suited with another name because they don’t accurately represent a heat check in real life. I mean, a heat check is a shot taken by a player that is quite difficult or extraordinary after they have taken easier shots and made them.

The heat check cards work nothing like this. Heat check cards are cards that provide a boost to the ratings of the video game players after their real-life counterparts have extraordinary games. If a player, for example, Kevin Durant, has an exceptional game in real life, his heat check card in NBA 2K will get a ratings boost that will provide an advantage for the gamer.

The ratings will be increased over all the different stat categories. This rating boost will last for 48 hours and has three different levels that can be activated depending on how great a player was in real life.

What are Some of the Greatest Heat Checks of All TimeWhat are Some of the Greatest Heat Checks of All Time?

Because the heat check is such a commonly shot taken throughout the NBA, there are hundreds of great shots in the history of the league. We will be showing you some of the current greats and the best heat check shots throughout their careers.

LeBron James

LeBron James is arguably one of the greatest players ever to play the game. He has terrific performances year after year, even at this age. At the beginning, to the midpoint of his career, he was never known for his ability to shoot the basketball.
He was and even to this day is still known as one of the best drivers of the basketball. Even though he was best known for driving the basketball, there are some games in which he could get hot from outside of the paint. When this happens, he is capable of making those long-range jumpers.

We have a video from YouTube that shows some of the best heat checks for the great LeBron James.


Klay Thompson

Unlike LeBron James, Klay Thompson is widely known as a shooter. He is apart of what we consider to be the Splash Brothers, the most excellent shooting backcourt in NBA history.

Klay Thompson can go off from anywhere between 50 to 100 points in a single quarter. Yes, we may be exaggerating, but you know what we mean. Klay Thompson has been one of the best Shooters ever to pick up a basketball, and he is not shy when it comes on to reminding us of this fact.

Klay Thompson can be a heartless shooter or a shooter with a block of ice for a heart when he goes crazy from behind the three-point line.

Here we have a video with some of his greatest heat check moments. Let’s behold one of the best shooters that the league has ever had to offer.


Stephen Curry

This guy is a walking heat check. Sometimes the first shot that this guy takes could be a heat check from the game before. Just joking. Stephen Curry is a very good shooter. May be great would be the best word to use. Well, let’s go with phenomenal.

Most people regard Stephen Curry as the best shooter that the league has ever seen. Night in night out, we can count on seeing this guy go off from anywhere on the court. Sometimes it is more difficult to tell what shots are heat checks based on a players playing style.

Stephen Curry is one of those players that will literally take and make shots from anywhere within the gym. This, you know, is no joke. Because of his great range and his willingness to shoot the ball, it is sometimes difficult to say what shots are heat checks in his mind.

Even though it may be difficult to say which shots are heat checks for Stephen Curry, it’s okay, just sit back and enjoy his terrific gift. Here is a video compilation of some of his greatest heat check moments.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Heat Check in Basketball?

Heat checks in basketball are shots taken with an advanced degree of difficulty. Heat checks are shots that can either rally the crowd to support the home team or quiet an arena full of away fans.

Players should be smart enough to know when to attempt heat checks so that they don’t negatively affect the team in any way. Heat checks are shots taken for players to test how hot they are. A shot that a player takes for a heat check may be a regular short for another player. For example, LeBron James taking a regular 3-point shot after making five others could be a heat check even though a regular 3-point shot is not a heat check for some other players.

Until next time ballers, stay hot, keep checking that heat.

If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other basketball FAQ articles here.

> What is a Field Goal in Basketball?

> What is a Generational Talent in Basketball?

> What is a Two-Way Basketball Player?

> What is a Hand Checking Rule in the NBA?

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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