Many NBA players prefer to use jump shots, hook shots, and slam dunks than using the backboard.
Hence, it begs, the question, ‘Why don’t NBA players use the backboard?’
Here, we’re going to look at the reasons why basketball pros don’t usually use the backboard when attempting shots, along with other pieces of relevant information.
What are Bank Shots?
Before proceeding, it’s important to know the type of shot that NBA players use when using the backboard.
Called the bank shot, the ball hits the backboard before making for the net. Effectively executing a bank shot can be a crowd-pleaser, especially if the ball goes through the hoop.
NBA players attempt the bank shot by aiming slightly higher than a standard jump shot.
But, it also means that these athletes need to jump higher than usual, which might become a challenge for players with weaker jumping powers.
On the plus side, jumping higher also means reducing the chances for defenders to block shots.
Why Don’t NBA Players Use the Backboard When Shooting?
It may seem like NBA players don’t use the backboard to make banks in comparison with other types of shots. It’s because it depends on the current situation.
Many professional basketball players in the league know when to use the most appropriate shot for the scenario. In particular, bank shots are generally ideal if the player holding the ball is already reasonably close to the hoop. Further, that athlete should also have a relatively clear path from their current position to the net.
It’s possible to see a similar concept when attempting jump shots. For example, opposing players are playing defensive as they perform a seemingly impenetrable guard to prevent passing the ball. However, it leaves a clear shot for the shooter if he stands slightly over the 3-point line. Thus, a 3-point shot would be the best course of action for this scenario.
Another reason that may make people wonder why NBA players aren’t using bank shots is that centers usually perform this type of shot. But, centers may need to be constantly on the defensive with their reasonably tall statures. Hence, people see this position to do more blocks and rebounds than scoring points.
Still, one player in NBA history seems to outperform other participants in the league with his expertise in bank shots. That player is Timothy ‘Tim’ Theodore Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. Basketball enthusiasts who watch (or re-watch) his time in the NBA would see his majestic use of the backboard when opportunities appear.
Why is There a Square on the Backboard?
Most basketball hoops, particularly official hoops in the NBA, have painted squares at the center of the backboard. It’s also slightly above the hoop, and it’s no mere decoration. The NBA requires this square to be white and it acts as a guide for shooters when attempting bank shots.
Targeting this white square might also provide higher chances of scoring points than other types of shooting methods. According to research from the North Carolina State University, engineers found that basketball had a better chance of achieving game-winning buckets with bank shots than direct shots.
The investigators used computer simulations that replicated one million possible shots. Once those reproductions are complete, the researchers found that using bank shots can be 20% more effective when attempted at different angles than using other shooting techniques.
Can You Use the Backboard on Free Throws in the NBA?
Yes, it’s possible to use the backboard during free throws in relatively any basketball game, especially in official NBA matches. According to the official NBA rules and definitions, Section 1 – C:
“Five sides of the backboard (front, two sides, bottom, and top) are considered in play when contacted by the basketball. The back of the backboard and the area directly behind it are out-of-bounds.”
But, does that mean hitting the ‘magic square’ on a basketball guarantee a shot?’ The answer is, ‘No.’ Like other sports, shots made in basketball has no guarantee. Unless the player can mentally and physically memorize the speed, power, and trajectory of each free throw shot that requires the backboard, then those shots are guaranteed.
Is There a Sweet Spot on the Backboard?
A scientific analysis in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports by Larry M. Silverberg and two of his colleagues showed a color-coded graph identifying the ‘sweet spots’ for bank shots. The study suggests that the best spots are on the sides of the backboard. But, these areas aren’t far enough that may lead to throws missing the backboard and going out of bounds.
Further, bank shots made in a relatively small area in front of the free-throw line seems to be the ideal area in making free-throw bank shots. The researchers stated in their report that shooting free-throws in that area would have a 20% higher chance of going through the hoop.
Are Bank Shots More Accurate Than Other Types of Shots?
Using the backboard to make bank shots doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more accurate than other shots. Although, studies suggest that performing bank shots properly may have higher chances of success than using other types of shots, like jump shots and layups. Nonetheless, players shouldn’t forget that constant practice will help them perform better on the court, regardless of their preferred shooting styles.
In some cases, NBA players don’t use the backboard in attempting to shoot basketballs. For example, the opposing team put up a strong defense, which makes it more challenging than usual to go near the hoop. Hence, the player holding the ball might prefer using other shooting techniques as opposed to using bank shots.
Still, mastering the bank shot can become a valuable asset to relatively any basketball player. Science proves that using this type of shot has a higher chance of success than other shooting styles. But, it’s not a magic trick that guarantees points when done. NBA players still need to practice it frequently to become better at banking basketballs.
James is a big time NBA Golden State follower, who makes sure to catch games when he's in the area. He likes to follow International Soccer, with an interest in small town soccer club, Blackburn Rovers located in the North on the UK.