Isaiah Thomas Breaks Down The 6 Most Elite Ball Handlers in the NBA
“Throwing down a monster dunk, swatting somebody’s shot or beating the buzzer is usually a pretty good way to make it into the SportCenter Top 10. But let’s be real: It ain’t a highlight reel until someone’s ankles get broken.” – Isaiah Thomas.
We agree and have filmed quite a few ankles getting broken over the past decade. Quite a few of them came from filming the Seattle Pro-Am games over the past few summers and many of those came courtesy of Thomas and his friend/Seattle native Jamal Crawford.
Today on The Players Tribune, Thomas got to breakdown the best ankle breakers in the league in a session of Elite Ball Handlers 101 which of course included a few paragraphs about Jamal who he calls a “straight streetballer.”
Below is a supplement piece to the article with videos and quotes from Thomas.
Jamal is a straight streetballer. He doesn’t have a signature or go-to move. He’s always doing something different depending on the situation, and he’s always trying crazy new stuff. He’s just so gifted that I don’t think he even knows what he’s going to do sometimes. He just does it, and everyone says Wow…He has a combination of instinct and a crazy natural ability to control the ball.
Steph plays like he’s a wide receiver in football running an option route on every play. Everything he does depends on what the defender is doing. So when he’s coming at you, if you’re afraid of the three — which you should be — and you give him too much space, he’ll knock it down. If you play too far up on the three, he’ll take you off the dribble. If he beats you on the first step because you were playing too far up, say goodbye. He’s already gone. If you sink back with him, he has the shiftiness and the quick release to step back and shoot.
Only CP3 takes a move like the Shammgod that everyone uses and throws it in between two fundamental moves like the pick-and-roll and the mid-range jumper to make them even more effective. He makes it look so easy, but it takes a lot of quickness and ball control to go off the pick, throw the ball out there on a string and pull it back with the other hand like he does. It all comes together in one long, fluid motion.
Kyrie lives laterally. He goes side to side at such a high level it’s hard for defenders to keep up. He’s right in front of you, then he’s not, and it all starts with the crossover. It’s the same move every point guard has in his arsenal.
His is just better.
That’s why his Euro step is so effective. He comes down the lane so fast that you have to play on your heels a little, and when he throws that first step at you, if you go with him, he has the ability to change direction with that second step without slowing down, and that little hesitation on the defender’s part is enough to give him the space he needs to finish at the basket.
HIMSELF (ISAIAH THOMAS)
You didn’t really think I was gonna break down the best ball handlers in the NBA and not get in on it, did you?