While the practice session must be attended by the players, it does not involve all the formal elements of a regular practice. Especially absent will be normally routine conditioning drills; probably absent also will be run-throughs of plays and extensive chalk-talks by the coaches. The practice may consist largely of players practicing their shooting in an unstructured manner, with five or six players shooting at one basket, rebounding others' shots and continuing this informal type of practice — hence the term "shootaround."
NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Sharman invented the morning shootaround as a way to burn off nervous energy on game days. He took the shootaround with him to his first coaching jobs in the ABL, ABA, and later, the NBA. After he coached the Los Angeles Lakers to the league championship in 1972, every other team in the league added the shootaround to its game-day regimen.
The shootaround is a staple of the pre-game warmup routine for all NBA teams, most college teams, and many teams at all levels. So infused is the term into basketball's lexicon, in fact, that ESPN's NBA re-cap show is called NBA Shootaround.