Float to the Top



In every guard’s arsenal there should be a set of tools. If they’re lucky, one of those will be a floater, one of the deadliest tools in the game.

Who invented the shot is unclear. However, smaller players have been using it against bigger players for quite some time. Elevating off of one or two feet, but always using one hand, the floater gives the little guys a greater chance. For anybody 6’3″ and under (with the exception of AI and Nate Robinson) it’s a must-have skillset.

Mark Jackson used it when he ran with the Pacers in the 90’s. Part of his repertoire since his St. John’s days, Jackson was the owner of the floater, with great handle, speed and ability to penetrate. As a younger player, one can usually get by simply being fast. By the time high school rolls around, though, it doesn’t work anymore. The same player can’t keep going down there with the taller players. The pull-up, awesomely effective in it’s own right, is one option, but the floater adds more panache.

Instead of fighting to get all the way to the rim by trying to go through bigger players, with this move, one can go over, gently lofting the rock over the outstretched arms of opposing centers. Sometimes high-arching, at other times kissing it off the backboard; it is a beautiful thing as it softly drops in the rim. A sweet tear-drop, despite great D, can absolutely zap an opponent.

Along with Jackson back in the 90’s, Gary Payton, also used the shot to great success. Taking the torch from them was Tony Parker, who displayed his beautiful floater on plenty of occasions while assisting the Spurs to three championships in six years. More recently, Ben Gordon, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo have given the shot much play, but it’s Derrick Rose, who is the proprietor of the sickest floater in the game right now. Already a major problem with his extremely consistent jumper and ability to finish at the rim, the floater is his in-between game. He usually rises off two feet, and shoots it with his right, using his athleticism to further elevate over bigger defenders.

Kemba Walker is one of many showing how it’s done on the college level, using it to propel himself to a career-high scoring average and First-Team All-American status. Most recently, Walker won the 2011 Bob Cousy Award and led UConn to the national championship, so the power of the floater at many levels has been magnified in 2011.

Photo Credit: NBA