Taking the high-percentage shot
When newcomers are introduced to the game of basketball, they are often taught to begin with the easiest way to score – a lay-up. This is because shots taken close to the basket have a higher chance of going in, thereby improving shooting efficiency. As players advance in the game however, they begin to find that the lay-up becomes increasingly rare as defensive intensity and rim protectors limit these opportunities. This necessitates a variety of close-range finishes for smaller hoopers who are not blessed with the hops or physique to finish above the rim.
Lay-up: Beyond the basic lay-up, there are several variations to learn that can aid players in avoiding the defense. Spinning the ball off the backboard to ‘finish with English’ allows you to release the ball further away from the basket, rather than directly at the rack. Double-pump and reverse variants also take advantage of hang-time and the rim respectively to evade would-be shot-blockers.
Hook shot: Although this is generally considered the domain of big men, many guards have perfected the art of the hook shot too. This shot allows you to use your body to hold off the defender while releasing the ball. Size is certainly an advantage here, but a running hook can provide more space to unleash the shot as compared to a jump hook, although more balance is also needed.
Floater: This shot has become commonplace in the NBA, which is now utilized by bigs and not just guards. The floater is a deadly weapon as it can be fired off quickly at different release points, instead of having to be taken from a set position. As such, it is an unpredictable weapon that requires very little space or athleticism, making it suitable for any player.
Finger-roll: Popularized by George Gervin in the 1970s, the finger-roll combines athleticism and scoring touch. As a remarkable leaper, ‘The Iceman’ was able to unfurl the shot at the top of his jump, releasing the ball at a height that could hardly be contested. Players need to put in many hours of work to acquire the soft touch and range required in finishing this advanced move consistently and effectively.