Steve Kerr says fundamentals have declined, calls lack of box-outs a ‘disease that’s rampant in the NBA’

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn’t happy with what he perceives as a lack of fundamentals in the NBA today, and he expressed his displeasure after the Warriors 126-114 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night — a game in which the Warriors were outrebounded 57-34. 

“This is the modern NBA; guys don’t box out. It’s just the way it is,” Kerr said, via ESPN. “Every night on League Pass, I see the same thing. Players let guys come in from the weak side, and they think, ‘I’ll just get the rebound.’ It’s a disease that’s rampant in the NBA. The problem is, if you’re a real small team like us, then it’s going to hurt you more than it will hurt other teams.

“It’s not even like a college box out or a high school box out,” Kerr added. “In the NBA, it’s more about locating the guy and just putting your hand or your forearm in his chest, letting somebody else go chase the ball. So we were staring up at butterflies, up in the air just looking up and guys were coming right by us. That doesn’t matter what kind of possession it is, what kind of shot it is, it’s just the awareness to go hit somebody.”  

Kerr sees the lack of fundamentals in the league as a direct result of the way that up-and-coming players are taught the game today. Kerr seems to see it as a combination of a lack of experience and a lack of discipline. 

“Most of these guys didn’t have a high school and college coach yelling at them for a combined eight straight years,” Kerr said. “It’s a different world today. And players grow up in a different way in terms of their basketball background. The detail is often the thing that is lacking.”  

Kerr’s made it clear that he doesn’t think the problem is skill-related, as he said that he thinks players today are more skilled than ever before. Somewhere along the line though, fundamentals took a backseat. 

“Players have never had more skill than they have today in my mind,” Kerr said. “I’m amazed by the skill level. But the little things, getting back in transition — every night on TV, I see teams let a guy run past them in transition for a layup. We do it; every team does it. If you did that 25 years ago, your coach would take you out and he wouldn’t play you again. Now everybody does it, and as a coach, you can’t take everybody out. So there are certain parts of the game that are just different; players aren’t as locked in on those things. I think just because it’s a different time.”  

So, does Kerr have a point when it comes to the lack of fundamentals in the league today? He might. Players are definitely entering the league at a younger age and with less experience than they were a couple of decades ago, and perhaps the rise in skill level has allowed some players to find quick success without first mastering all of the basics. But, his description seems to be more fitting for young, inexperienced players and teams. Typically, by the time players become veterans in the league they have the fundamentals down. This wasn’t an issue that Kerr harped on while the Warriors were in the midst of five straight Finals runs with a roster full of intelligent vets. If anything, it sounds like Kerr is dealing with the growing pains that come with coaching a relatively young team. 

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