Why Don’t Basketball Teams Have Their Best Player Take Most of the Shots?

In basketball, it might seem logical to have the best player take most of the shots, given their skill and potential to score.

However, there are several strategic and practical reasons why basketball teams do not typically follow this approach:

Defensive Focus

If a team relies too heavily on one player, it becomes easier for opponents to defend against them.

The defense can concentrate their efforts on the star player, using double teams or specialized defensive schemes, which makes it harder for that player to get good shooting opportunities.

Team Fatigue and Injury Risk

Basketball is a physically demanding sport. If the best player is taking most of the shots, they’re also expending more energy and increasing their risk of injury.

This can lead to fatigue and decreased performance over time, especially in a long season with many games.

Team Dynamics and Morale

Basketball is a team sport, and effective team play is crucial for success.

Over-relying on one player can lead to dissatisfaction and lower morale among other team members, as they may feel underutilized or unimportant.

This can affect the overall team performance and chemistry.


If a team becomes too predictable in always funneling the ball to their best player, it makes it easier for opponents to plan their defensive strategy.

A more varied offensive approach can be more challenging to defend against.

Development of Other Players

Giving other players opportunities to take shots helps them develop their skills and confidence.

This development is crucial for the team’s long-term success, as it ensures that the team is not overly dependent on one player and can cope better if that player is injured, gets into foul trouble, or is marked out of the game.

Strategic Flexibility

Different games and different opponents require different strategies.

Sometimes, the best strategy might involve the star player taking more shots, but in other situations, it might be more effective to use them as a decoy or to distribute the ball more evenly to exploit mismatches elsewhere.

FAQs – Why Don’t Basketball Teams Have Their Best Player Take Most of the Shots?

How do basketball coaches decide who should take the shots in a game?

Basketball coaches decide who should take shots based on a variety of factors.

These include the players’ shooting abilities, matchups against the opposing team, the game situation, and the team’s offensive strategy.

Coaches often design plays that create scoring opportunities for their best shooters, but also incorporate flexibility to adapt to the defense.

They also consider the players’ performance during the game—some players may have a “hot hand,” while others might be struggling.

What is the impact of a star player taking too many shots on the team’s overall performance?

When a star player takes too many shots, it can negatively impact the team’s performance.

This approach can lead to predictable offensive patterns, making it easier for opponents to defend.

It may also demoralize other players who feel underutilized, leading to a decline in team morale and effort.

Additionally, over-reliance on one player can result in fatigue and increased injury risk for that player.

Can you give examples of successful basketball teams that relied heavily on one player for scoring? How did that work out?

Historically, there have been teams that relied heavily on one player for scoring and achieved success.

For instance, the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s often relied on Michael Jordan, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s frequently looked to Kobe Bryant.

These teams were successful because the star players were exceptionally skilled, but they also had strong supporting casts that provided balance and could step up when needed.

How does the strategy of shot distribution vary between regular season games and playoff games in basketball?

In regular season games, teams might adopt a more balanced shot distribution strategy to develop the skills of various players and to conserve the energy of star players.

In contrast, in playoff games, the stakes are higher, and teams often rely more on their star players.

The intensity of defense in playoffs also means that teams need their best players to step up, but without completely abandoning the balanced approach that worked during the regular season.

What role does player fatigue play in determining who takes the shots in a basketball game?

Player fatigue is a significant factor in shot-taking decisions. As players tire, their shooting accuracy and decision-making abilities can decline.

Coaches monitor players’ energy levels and rotate them to keep them fresh.

A fatigued star player might be less effective in shooting, so coaches might shift the shooting responsibilities to fresher players to maintain offensive efficiency.

How do teams adapt when their star player is heavily guarded or having an off-night?

When a star player is heavily guarded or not performing well, teams adapt by shifting their offensive focus to other players.

They might use the star player as a decoy to draw the defense away and create opportunities for others.

Additionally, they can change their offensive strategy to exploit weaknesses in the opponent’s defense, emphasizing ball movement and teamwork to find the best available shot.

This approach requires a well-rounded team with multiple players capable of stepping up offensively.

In what situations might a coach encourage their best player to take more shots than usual?

A coach might encourage their best player to take more shots in situations where the player is performing exceptionally well, often referred to as having a “hot hand.”

Additionally, in critical moments of a close game, such as the final minutes or when the team is trailing, the coach might rely more on the star player’s ability to create and make shots.

Also, if the opposing team has defensive weaknesses that the star player can exploit, the coach might adjust the strategy to take advantage of this.

How important is it for a basketball team to have multiple scoring threats besides their best player?

Having multiple scoring threats is crucial for a basketball team’s success.

It makes the team’s offense more dynamic and harder to defend against, as the opponent cannot simply focus on one player.

It also reduces the pressure on the star player and provides options when that player is having an off night or facing tough defense.

Injuries or fatigue to the star player can be better compensated for when there are other reliable scorers on the team.

What are some historical or statistical analyses that show the effectiveness of not relying on one player for most shots?

Historical and statistical analyses show that teams with a more balanced offensive approach tend to have more sustained success.

For instance, studies of team performance in the NBA have indicated that teams with a higher assist-to-field-goal ratio, which suggests more shared ball handling and scoring opportunities, often have better overall records.

Also, historical examples like the San Antonio Spurs under coach Gregg Popovich demonstrate the effectiveness of a team-oriented approach, where the offensive load is distributed among various players, leading to consistent success over the years.

How do team dynamics and player relationships affect shot distribution in a basketball team?

Team dynamics and player relationships play a significant role in shot distribution.

A cohesive team with good chemistry is more likely to share the ball and work together to find the best shot opportunity.

In contrast, teams with internal conflicts or ego clashes might struggle with one or more players dominating the ball, which can lead to inefficiency and resentment.

Effective communication, mutual respect, and a strong team culture fostered by the coaching staff are essential for maintaining healthy team dynamics and equitable shot distribution.


While it’s tempting to have the best player take most of the shots in basketball, a balanced approach that involves the whole team is generally more effective and sustainable over the course of a season.

This strategy not only counters the opponent’s defensive plans but also fosters a healthy team environment and ensures the team is not overly reliant on one player.

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