If you are just getting into NBA, the language and the terminology can be quite intimidating, especially considering the pace of the game where you cannot blink without missing something. The following 12 terms will be heard during any NBA broadcast and they are the very basics of NBA lingo that you should know.
1. Field Goal
A field goal, or ‘fg’ as you will see it in the stats, denotes every attempt at getting the ball into the basket. Every shot, dunk, layup or three point shot is considered to be a field goal (if it is made, of course). Free throws are not field goals. Regardless of whether it gets in, every attempt at a field goal is called a field goal attempt, or ‘fga’ for short.
Frontcourt and backcourt are two terms that describe the traditional positions in basketball. Point guards and shooting guards are considered to be backcourt while the small forwards, power forwards and centers are considered to be frontcourt players.
3. Fast Break
Fast break is a term used to describe an offensive possession that occurs as a result of the opposing team’s turnover or a quick rebound and outlet pass. For a possession to be considered a fast break, the team that is on the defense cannot have a set defense, meaning that they need to defend on the fly.
Turnover is any action that results in the other team gaining possession of the ball. It can be a result of travelling violation, a steal made by the defending team, going out of bounds or failing to shoot at the basket within the 24 seconds teams are given for each possession.
5. Double/Double Double/Triple Double/Quadruple Double
Double is a term that is used when a player gets a double count of any of the statistical categories – points, steals, rebounds, blocks, assists. For a player to record a double double, they need to have more than 10 in any of the aforementioned categories. Triple double is achieved when a player gets 10 in three categories while quadruple double requires double figures in four categories. Quadruple double was recorded only 4 times in the history of the NBA.
Post up (verb – posting up) is an offensive setup where a player, usually a forward or center, receives the ball with his or her back to the basket. The player then uses their offensive post-up skills to create a position for a high-percentage shot or to make a useful pass. Post-up game has become much less frequently used in the last decade or so.
7. Pick and Roll
Pick and roll is among the most commonly used offensive plays and it denotes a situation in which one player creates a screen for another player (usually a point guard). The player with the ball can then lose his defender thanks to the screen. P’n’R usually results in the screen-setter’s defender also defending the ball-handler, which often frees up the screen-setter, allowing him or her to “roll” to the basket without worrying about his defender. There are a number of variations where either of the two players gets a relatively undefended shot. If you want to see perfect pick and rolls in action, check out some videos of Stockton and Malone who perfected the play.
8. 3-and-D Player
A 3-and-D player is a player who combines high percentage three point shooting and great defensive skills. Such players are usually shooting guards or small forwards and they are becoming more and more useful as the game progresses. They often provide very little besides these two skills, but in today’s basketball, these two skills are enough to make a player very useful.
Paint denotes a part of the basketball court that is located near the basket and that is usually painted a different color from the rest of the court. You will also hear that people use the term “key” for this area, while its official name is the free throw lane. Offensive players cannot spend more than three seconds in the opposing team’s paint or else this will result in a turnover.
10. Buzzer Beater
In order for a shot to be considered a buzzer beater, the player needs to release the ball before the sound of the buzzer that announces the end of the quarter or the game and the ball needs to fall into the basket after the sound of the buzzer. In essence, the buzzer needs to occur in the time it takes the ball to go from the player’s hand into the basket.
11. Sixth Man
The sixth man is an NBA player who is not in the starting lineup but who is considered to be crucial to the success of the team. Many teams purposefully make one of their more useful players a bench player, the sixth man who is supposed to lead the second unit (players who come in to replace the starters at one point in the game).
12. Hack a Shaq
Hack a Shaq is a defensive strategy in which the defending team deliberately fouls a player from the opposing team who is notorious for bad free throw shooting. If their percentage is too low, it makes mathematical and statistical sense to foul him and send him to the line instead of defending. The term was coined when teams used this strategy on Shaquille O’Neal who was very bad at shooting free throws. Since then, it has been used on a number of players.