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Bosh, Wade and deception

7/22/2011

Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak reminds us that, on the basketball court, falsehoods help you win basketball games. He explains:

My high school basketball coach, John Wiley, used to tell us that on the basketball court, “you should by lying constantly.” He wanted us to understand that by constantly feinting and faking, you can put your opponent out of position, gain an advantage and achieve success. Whether it’s getting open, getting to the basket or even something as fundamental as setting a screen, deceptive action is key to every aspect of the game.

When we refer to misdirection, slipping a screen or changing speeds, what we're talking about are means of deception. A player off the ball gives the opponent the impression he's moving one way, but changes course. A potential screener pretends he's going to set a high pick, but instead dives to the hoop. A driver establishes a specific tempo, but then hesitates for an instant. When he does, he buys himself space for an open shot because his defender didn't have time to adjust for the change of speed.

In this spirit, Mason names his "NBA All-Deceptive Teams," honoring those players who best utilize this kind of trickery in their games. Both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade made the list.

Here's Mason's entry on Bosh:

For my money, he has the finest perimeter upfake of any big man in the league. It helps that Chris Bosh is the quickest power forward off the dribble in the league and shoots accurately from twenty feet. Bosh shows his defender the ball with a genuine, quick fake in which he brings the ball all the way to his shot pocket near his left eye -- and his man all the way off his feet. Bosh is also very clever off the ball, and the Heat rely on his reads as the screener in pick and rolls to make their half court offense hum.

When defenders bite on that shot fake at the elbow, Bosh has the capacity to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket.

Mason also names Wade as one the league's great deceivers:

Like Ginobili, Wade takes extremely long strides on his basket-bound blitzes, and even at full stretch he possesses the special ability to radically change direction. The long strides put a tremendous amount of pressure on the on-ball and help defenders to react aggressively to his every move, often at their own expense. Wade has slowed just a fraction, but he still has the best hesitation dribble this side of Monta Ellis, and clears more room with his stepback than anyone in the league. Just ask OJ Mayo. And while Wade hasn’t yet unseated Pierce and the Celtics from their position as beast of the East, he did steal Paul’s patented upfake-lean in move.

Wade's hesitation move makes defenders look foolish, and so does his otherworldly balance. It seems strange to call an attribute like balance "deceptive," but Wade's body control is so uncommon that it fools you. A defender literally can't believe his eyes.