The NBA has a rich and storied history of incredible athletes and talented players, and every so often a great player develops a move that defenders find nearly impossible to stop. The criterion for selecting the following three moves was based solely on the “unstoppable nature” of the move in question.
Was the move so effective that opposing teams often had to double the offensive player? Did the move become a signature weapon in the player’s offensive arsenal? Was the move capable of decimating any defender who tried to check it? This short list has nothing to do with the totality of a player’s career or his overall body of work. It’s all about the move.
For a bonus NBA offensive super move, check out the video player above to learn how to master future legend Damian Lillard’s signature floater
Allen Iverson Crossover
Iverson’s crossover became the signature calling card for one of the most explosive point guards to ever play in the NBA. Iverson’s 15-year pro career is remembered primarily for his ability to break down defenders off the dribble. His relatively diminutive stature (6-feet tall) put him at a seeming disadvantage against taller, longer defenders. But Iverson used his quickness and his incredible ability to change direction to destroy defenders with one of the most deadly NBA crossover moves of all time.
What made Iverson’s crossover so deadly?
1. His “False” First Step
Iverson frequently jabbed in one direction to set up his defender before he executed his killer crossover. This false first step got the defender moving backward or sideways, allowing Iverson to quickly change direction and create space for an open jumper or drive to the hoop.
2. The Double-Cross
Because of his reputation as a player with an explosive first step, Iverson often used an initial crossover to set up a secondary move that would completely disorient his defender. He was especially effective when coming off screens, because he would cross over toward the ball screen, making his defender think he was going to use the pick, then quickly counter with a crossover away from the screen and open a drive the hoop.
3. The Set-up
Iverson frequently set up his defender with an initial move (or a series of several different dribble fakes) to put his opponent on uneven footing. Once the defender was unsure which way Iverson wanted to go, Iverson blew past him or created separation for an open mid-range jumper. His quickness, ball-handling and ability to knock down the mid-range jumper made it virtually impossible to stop him 1-on-1. Check out some of Iverson’s greatest crossovers here.
RELATED: Develop an Unstoppable Crossover Dribble With Just 3 Drills
Dirk Nowitzki Step-Back Fadeaway
Dirk Nowitzki’s combination of height and shooting touch has made him one of the most difficult players to guard in the history of the NBA. Nowitzki’s 7-foot frame combined with his silky-smooth jumper make him a tough cover for any NBA defender. His height, shooting ability and scoring prowess have made him one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He currently sits 9th all-time in NBA scoring with nearly 28,000 career points, shooting 47 percent from the field and a respectable 38 percent from 3-point range. His primary weapon of choice is his deadly step-back fadeaway. Here are few reasons that make this move nearly unstoppable.
1. The Body Bump
Nowitzki is a master at using various spin moves and back-downs to initially create contact with his defender, then use this leverage to separate from his defender and shoot the fadeaway. The space he creates with this contact gives him a clear vision of the hoop as he rises up for his jumper and enough time to shoot over long, athletic defenders.
2. High Release
The combination of Nowitzki’s height and his high release make it nearly impossible for a defender to block his shot. He releases the ball slightly behind his head, which affords him an extra few inches of precious space to get off a clean shot against aggressive defenders. His high release also puts the ball in a high arching trajectory, which gives him a soft shot. His high release has been perfected through countless hours of practice, and Nowitzki has become a master at using it to his advantage.
3. One-Footed Stepback
Nowitzki regularly uses a single-footed step-back fadeaway. Jumping off one foot allows him to fade away at a slightly more exaggerated angle than would be possible off two feet. This is just another refinement in Nowitzki’s offensive game that allows him to create maximum separation from his defender. His graceful, fading, one-footed step-back is nearly impossible to block. Check out his step-back here.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Skyhook
The skyhook was the cornerstone of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s offensive game, and he used it to score well over 38,000 points in his 20-year NBA career. Kareem’s skyhook was arguably the most dominant single move in NBA history, and here’s why.
1. Release Point
In contrast to a conventional hook shot, Kareem’s skyhook was released a good distance away from his body. When interviewed about his patented move, he says he can’t remember his shot ever getting blocked by his primary defender (although another defender may have possibly slipped behind him and swiped at the ball). Abdul-Jabbar positioned his body so that his off shoulder would be squarely between the defender and his shooting hand. If the defender wanted to block his shot, he would have to go through Kareem’s body and reach the outstretched shooting hand to get to the ball—a virtually impossible task.
Abdul-Jabbar could shoot his skyhook with either hand from anywhere on the floor. This gave him the flexibility to destroy defenders in a variety of ways, depending on how they decided to play him. He could shoot from different locales and from varying distances with either hand. Kareem was even known to shoot his running skyhook from as far away as the free-throw line. This flexibility made him unstoppable.
3. Lift and Athleticism
In addition to his 7-foot-2 frame and high release point, Abdul-Jabbar had incredible lift to his shot. His athleticism gave him the ability to create separation from his defender and shoot a beautiful, soft shot. When he started his shooting motion, he would leap over defenders and release his skyhook at the optimal point. His lift and athleticism augmented what was an already unstoppable move. Check out Abdul-Jabbar skyhook here.
RELATED: 5 Shooting Drills That Will Make You Unstoppable