My freshman year of high school I stood a whopping 5’6”. Even as a member of the freshman team, most of my teammates towered over me. During those diminutive years, finishing over tall shot blockers in the lane was so difficult that I was hesitant to attack the rim.
The problem was that I didn't feel confident in the paint because I didn't have the tools to be a good finisher. Floaters are one of those tools that has helped me become a better finisher.
It took me a few years after that--ironically, until I was at least 6 ft tall--to start practicing and using floaters in games. But once I did, it opened up a whole host of options around the basket.
Instead of the single-minded approach that I needed to get all the way to the rim to shoot a standard lay-up, I began to play with more creativity. I knew that just getting anywhere in the lane offered me a chance to use my floater. I could stop short of a big man trying to take a charge or spin away from a defender to create space. It was this confidence in being able to shoot from that awkward 5-12ft range that opened the door to more creative moves around the basket.
Now, I’m not claiming to have mastered the floater. It’s an incredibly difficult shot that requires tons of practice. But it's an incredibly useful shot that can provide little guards with a weapon against big shot blockers. Used properly, the floater can be a big man’s kryptonite. I mean, can you imagine how demoralized Serge Ibaka felt after this play?
Ibaka was so sure he was going to rotate over and beat this shot into the third row only to see it drop gently through the net. As a guard, there’s nothing more beautiful than the feeling of a perfect floater leaving your fingertips.
Steph Curry’s floater is somewhat unconventional in that he often shoots it underhand. But everybody’s floater is unique. Each player utilizes slightly different rhythm, footwork, trajectory and spin on the ball. Let’s take a look at some of the NBA’s best floaters and analyze what makes theirs different. If you see something you like about their floaters, practice it, and add it to your game.
Tony Parker loves to shoot his floater going right off of two feet. In this clip, he shoots his deadly floater off a ball screen where the big man soft hedges help side defender block Parker's path to the rim.
Parker’s floater is a push shot with very little spin which allows it bounce softly on the rim. He uses his legs to spring into his floater rather than relying on arm strength or elbow flexion to control distance. Rather than relying on high arc, Parker is able to avoid being blocked because he releases it so quickly.
Before his series of injuries, Derrick Rose’s floater was absurd. He could shoot if from outside of 15 ft, running away from the basket and at crazy angles. Check this shot out.
That’s an unbelievably difficult shot. Rose is much more comfortable shooting the floater going right. But unlike Parker, who relies on speed to get his shot off. Rose often uses his elite leaping ability to shoot his floater over defenses. His floater often has a higher trajectory with more backspin as the ball rolls off his hand rather than being pushed forward.
Rajon Rondo is an assassin with his floater. Although he doesn’t release it that quickly, it has so much arc that it is almost impossible to block. Check out the ball flight of this floater.
That’s some ridiculous arc. Rondo tends to shoot his floater off of one foot as he sweeps through the lane to his right. He ends up shooting almost a complete knuckleball because his floater is a push shot that goes almost straight into the air.
The lesson is this: everyone's floater is unique so find a style that's comfortable for you and practice the heck out of it. Trust me, it's worth it. Even though I'm 6'4", I still use my floater as often as ever because it's a great weapon that's hard to stop.
Who do you think has the best floater in the NBA today?