Originally Posted by nzamcdza
As stated the best way to get in basketball shape is to play basketball ....
The key is that you have to play with game intensity. Even if it is just 3 on 3 or recreation basketball if you treat it as if it was a major championship game by going 100%, always sprinting back on D, cutting hard on offense etc this is the best way to get in game shape.
I think it is important to echo the second portion of your post. It is very possible to play basketball and never really get into basketball shape.
Pick-up games abound where it is more than enough to run until we get tired then stop, maybe take a play off, maybe not crash the glass, maybe not run down the floor when a teammate has a wide-open fast break layup just in case he misses it, etc. One can still be effective when playing in this manner, but it'll also be very difficult to ever really get into legitimate basketball shape.
It is a struggle, and it is tough, but getting in basketball shape by playing basketball means pushing until we're tired, then continuing to push thereafter. There's really lazy basketball, then I think there's standard "try hard sometimes" basketball (where we'll push hard until we get winded then dial it back), and then there's real deal basketball - where we try to always push, as if we're trying to get to that next level.
Personally, what has helped me through the years has been some of the experiences I've had playing against some professional players in open gyms. I recall the little things they did - how hard they ran the floor, even if they're just filling a non-opportunistic lane in transition - and I try to remember those moments when I play. If I somehow feel like I've hit a limit, I recall how much higher that threshold can go, how much faster and more energetic I can play.
I also think of NBA players and what I know about their pace (many college players go the NBA and say their biggest adjustment is the quick pace). It helps me to know that however fast or hard I think I'm going, I could be pushing to go so much faster.