Player Profiles – The Slasher
There are different types of players in the game of basketball. Each type brings their own set of skills and traits to the team. Most likely each player will fall into one or two types of player profiles, possibly more. These profiles may or may not have to do with the position they play, but will definitely be relative to their play style. These players are often labeled as a certain type because they are stronger in one area than another. The first player profile I’ll go over is the “Slasher”.
Slashers are most often the highest scorers on the team. They are explosive, athletic players who use their ability to get to the rim or the paint. In the NBA, slashers are typically 6’3” to 6’8”, play the 2 or 3 positions, and can score in a multitude of ways. The most common ways slashers score include transition baskets, offensive rebounds, mid range shots, post ups on smaller defenders, leaners, floaters, dunks, layups and most importantly: FREE THROWS. Because of their ability to penetrate, a good slasher will get to the free throw line multiple times per game. This means they can greatly benefit from being a good free throw shooter. The best slashers also develop a consistent mid range jump shot to offset their ability to penetrate.
There have been a lot of great slashers that have come and gone in the NBA. However, each one has left their own set of fingerprints on the game. Even though players fall into the category each slasher has their own unique set of skills.
Currently, I believe nobody has a more unique game than James Harden; The 6’5 lefty shooting guard for the Houston Rockets. James Harden makes driving to the basket look way too easy. It’s almost as if he coasts to the basket. Harden is incredibly effective at breaking defenders down off the dribble by stacking combinations of dribble attack moves. He can consistently get into the paint area to finish with an emphatic dunk or a smooth euro-step to a layup. If help defense steps up he does an excellent job of drawing contact for a foul and can finish more often than not because of his strength. Harden’s deadly mid-range game also heavily resembles another great slasher and that is Dwayne Wade.
Since he entered the NBA in 2003, Wade has been easily been one of the top 3 players at the 2-guard position. “Flash”, as he is often referred to, is another one of those players who “slashes” through the defense and gets to the basket with the utmost of ease. His mid-range game is what makes him so incredibly difficult to guard, though. For a good part of his career no player in the NBA had a better pullback, stepback, or shot fake than Dwayne Wade. He scored a good majority of his points by breaking down defenders and creating space to hit a mid range jump shot over them. His ability to create separation at 15-20 feet is something every player should attempt to replicate.
Finally, my favorite slasher and personal favorite player: “The G.O.A.T.” – Michael Jordan. Fadeaways, hanging layups, poster dunks, postups, jabs – you name it, Michael had it. His box of tricks seemed almost bottomless. Shot fake, one-dribble. Check. Jab, cross-step. Check. Post ups. Check. It can be argued that there was no greater shooter inside the arc. He also ranks fifth on the NBA all-time free throws made list. The way he played the game redefined the slasher and “2-guard” roles. His combination of strength, athleticism, focus, and determination gave him the ability to do pretty much anything on anyone. He made mid-range jump shots cool with his patented fadeaway jumper. He is the one to blame for guards wanting to post up all of the time. He is the reason players try to hang in the air and throw a layup over their head even if they can’t jump over a phone book. You can find a piece of his game in players throughout the NBA, and college. Michael Jordan is THE slasher.
While these are some of my favorites, they are also some of the best basketball players to ever play the sport setting the bar pretty high. So what are some common traits or higher principles you can adopt into your game to help you become a slasher? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Find your “go-to-move.” This is your move that you can depend on all of the time that works against the best defenders! Remember to have a counter move off of it so you do not become predictable.
2) Beat somebody off the dribble. This is why you have a “go-to-move.” It is hard to get to the rim if your defender is always standing in front of you.
3) Possess the ability to play with/through contact. Defenders should not be able to slap the ball out of your hands and if they bump you it should not take you off your path. Be a contact player and drive through your defender, not around them!
4) Mid-Range!!! The more I watch high school and middle school games the more I see that the volleyball line to the free throw line (8-15 feet away from the rim) hardly ever gets used these days. Everything cannot be a lay-up or a 3 pointer. A true slasher can understand when it is time to “stop and pop”
5) Practice your free throws … they are FREE! I think it is inexcusable for any basketball player to not shoot at least 70% from the line. You must practice your free throws.
6) Test yourself! Try to watch one NBA or college game per week and see if you can pick out who the slashers are! What do they do well? How do they score their points? What are some words you would use to describe them? Can you use the same words to describe your own game?
The next player profile post will be about the Floor General: characteristics, strengths, and some of the best players to fall under the umbrella of the position.
Work Hard, Play Harder
– Bobby Catchings