What is Basketball IQ?

I see it often on message boards that Team X or Player Y just doesn't have any basketball IQ. And while IQ in real life is defined as the score you get from any number of standardized tests, I don't see it defined for basketball. It's just assumed that basketball IQ is "playing smart" or "understanding the game" and left at that.

It is also assumed that players either have a high basketball IQ, or they don't, and whatever skill they have is what they were born with. Which is nonsense. Basketball IQ is a learned skill. Just like a real IQ test – it sort of gets at how smart you are, but really it gets at how well you've been prepared for the test.

Luckily, I don't have to define basketball IQ, as coach Kevin Sutton has already done that for me, and I agree with his points. Here goes:

  1. having the ability to process information at game speed
  2. reading the flow of the game and determine if it needs to be changed
  3. the understanding of the importance of time and score
  4. the understanding of shot selection
  5. the understanding of his teammates strength’s and weaknesses
  6. knowing and developing an understanding of the scouting report/game plan
  7. developing a relationship with the coaching staff so to better understand the system
  8. knowing your opponents
  9. watching tapes of your team, of yourself, of the opposing team and the person you will defend
  10. listening to knowledgeable people, reading about the game, studying the game.
  11. having the ability to understand what was drawn/discussed in the timeout, execute it on the floor and being able to make the proper “basketball reads” if the play isn’t there. This is especially important in late game situations.