Basketball, y'all.

Behind-the-Back to the Future

Image Credit: (Neon Tommy)
Feb. 26, 2016

Yesterday Isaiah Thomas executed one of the best behind-the-back, no-look passes I’ve ever seen. Players have not been shying away from the behind-the-back pass this season, so I thought it would be fun to think about its effectiveness and whether it’s used more for flair or to make the best basketball play. But first, soak in this awesomeness:

Yeah, this happened:

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 26, 2016

When I played lacrosse in high school we’d mess around with a behind-the-back shot but mainly just for fun. Using it in a game seemed silly given the decrease in accuracy… playing right and winning was more important.[1]Well, trying to win. But then again, there was the rare occasion where you could be running past the goal and your only chance at getting a shot off was a flick behind-the-back. Isaiah here, nails the pass for all the right reasons. It’s surprising, catching the defense off guard and keeping the attention away from Jae Crowder in the corner. No defenders are prepared to deflect it. And most importantly, it’s right on target. Ok maybe even more importantly: it looked awesome.

Questions remain though. How often is this pass going to be on target? Could he have continued toward the baseline and had an easier pass as he hopped out of bounds? Or would Jae be more covered then? Sure, it’s got some risks. But we’re talking about Isaiah Thomas here, and he knows how to make things happen.

Steph Curry has been a good reminder this season that athletes continually try to do things better than anyone ever has before. The really great ones push limits in ways you never thought possible. Curry’s ability to knock down 3-pointers, whether it’s in crunch time at the end of the game, way beyond the arc, as time expires in a quarter from beyond half-court, or just really well-defended, is changing the game. Steve Kerr said a three is like a layup for Curry. In the future of the NBA, will Curry's skills become more common-place?

Before I start to get off-topic, let’s bring it back to … behind-the-back. Let’s say that behind-the-back passes are not less accurate than a regular pass. Even if all it does is provide a bit of misdirection, then it’s still worth it to mix things up. Analyzing the behind-the-back pass with this little perception-change, it’s easy to see it as a valid skill to incorporate into a basketball player’s arsenal. All we need is amazing players like Isaiah and Curry pushing the boundaries, showing us that these kinds of maneuvers are not a shot-in-the-dark, and can instead become relied-upon assets.

Pretty pass, strong finish. @stephencurry30 & @money23green combine on ABC.

— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) February 21, 2016

94 feet of AWESOMENESS on TNT!

— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) February 10, 2016

And we can still always enjoy when someone is too focused on the flair and it doesn't go so well.

Brandon Rush with the ole Behind the Back Pass to Nobody #Shaqtin

— Mike Goldfarb (@Shaqtin_A_Fool) January 28, 2016