People wonder what really separates the best players from the average players. When we speak about point guards, we say things like “he sees the play before it happens” and he “has eyes in the back of his head.” In reality, the expert point guard anticipates the play and is more aware than other players. The truly exceptional, like Steve Nash, anticipate the play developing and make a move to insure its successful execution.
In a Phoenix Suns’ game last week, I saw this play. Steve Nash starts with the ball, Jason Richardson is on the right wing and Amare Stoudemire trailed.
Nash knew Stoudemire was trailing because he looks around after he receives the pass and surveys the whole court; then he anticipates how fast Stoudemire will run and which lane he will fill. In this case, the play started as a 2v2 semi-break; however, Nash deftly dribbled in front of the nearest defender to take him out of the play and create a 2v1 on the right side of the court. The one defender left the middle and dropped to take away Richardson. Meanwhile, Stoudemire accelerated past his nearest defender, which is exactly what Nash wanted to happen.
By taking the dribble to the right and eliminating one defender, he forced the other defender to defend Richardson and Nash, which let a wide open lane down the middle and a wide open passing lane to Stoudemire. Nash fired the pass and Stoudemire finished with a dunk.
Nash understands how to move the defense to create the desired result and he showed that skill expertly in this play.