As the makers of a shooting machine (three models for that matter) you'd think we'd stand pretty firm on the response being "yes". But that's not entirely the case. As athletes and coaches ourselves we understand that the game is not that simple and we value all of the different opinions regarding this question.
Thanks to our Twitter followers we were able to gather an array of responses to this question from the 52% who said "No" and we are here to share those and provide a few interesting perspectives.
Here are a few of the most popular alternative answers provided: Ball Handling Basketball IQ Defense Being Coachable Teamwork Rebounding Decision Making Court Vision Footwork Movement without the ball Teamwork Consistency Conditioning/Endurance
While I think we can all agree these things are incredibly important to the game of basketball, it is hard to define them as a single skill. For example, "Decision Making" as a skill is too complex. Which part specifically? A player may know the right decision to make but are they able to execute?
In this case, maybe "execution" is the right skill then. But, maybe a player is able to execute well but is selfish and often makes decisions that aren't in the best interest for the team. I don't want that player on my team. See my point.
If we look at the core skills in basketball, things that a player can work on physically we are left with a few alternatives besides shooting. One, however, out of 127 Twitter responses and over 8,000 survey participants was not mentioned.
What does every single possession of the game start with? A pass.
My husband, former NBA player Greg Stiemsma, made this point when discussing this question and I thought he was joking! For someone who's seen the game at all levels possible I couldn't believe that was his response. I responded with, "You're telling me the most important skill in basketball is the ability to pass and catch?"
He does make a valid point though. Passing and catching the ball is done more in a game than anything else, but just because it is done the most often doesn't mean it is the most important.
So, what am I getting at here? That this is an incredibly complicated question! It cannot be answered this simply. Greg wasn't a super star ball handler or shooter but he managed to make it to the highest level of the game possible. Also not because he was a great passer and catcher, but because he knew his role and embraced it.
I personally believe the answer to this question is that exactly. The most important skill in basketball is embracing your role.
The only challenge is discovering that role, now that is a whole other conversation (click the link to read more).
However, at the end of the day, you can't win a game without putting the ball in the hoop...