An NBA game averages right around 100 possessions per game. In talking with several coaches lately, they want to know approximately how that breaks down into called plays, ATO’s, and “just play”.
Between 25-30 possessions a game will be “ATO’s”, (after time outs), “EOG”, (end of game) or any situation where you have a chance to “huddle up”, similar to football, and diagram a play. These include the start of each quarter, (4), after each time out, (several), and occasionally during any other stoppage of play, (injury, video review, blood on uniform). In these situations, there is NO EXCUSE for not executing. Our head coach is adamant that our guys PAY ATTENTION, know EXACTLY what their job is on that specific play, understand the SPACING and TIMING of their job and EXECUTE it. Usually these plays have been executed in practice, however, there are times when the play is new, (maybe the coach sees something that may work and just draws it up). Sometimes the “ATO” play will not occur until 2 or 3 possessions have taken place. Players have to be mentally focused and be able to recall and execute that play. The goal is to NEVER WASTE a possession in these situations……and there is never an acceptable reason. DEMAND ATO EXECUTION!
I would estimate that between 35-45 possessions are “play calls” that either come from the bench or from the point guard. These would include after free throws, SOB, BOB, or a call during the flow of the game.
The remaining possessions include break opportunities, early post ups, drags, step ups, and any other offense which isn’t called. Many times this is dictated by what the point guard sees, match ups, etc…..
100 possessions seems like a lot, however, with so many games coming down to last minute execution, the team that wastes the fewest during the course of the game understands the value of EACH POSSESSION, whether it be in the first quarter or the last one of the game. Those teams usually win.