Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has captivated basketball fans from across the globe with his gravity-defying dunks and spectacular ball-handling in just his second NBA season.
Morant’s story from an obscure high school prospect to future NBA superstar is nothing short of amazing.
While you may never have the athleticism to dunk or dribble like Morant, there IS one component to his game that YOU can master.
Check out how effortless he makes these floaters in traffic against NBA defenses.
Morant’s floater makes him unstoppable in the paint. He can finish at the rim, pass it to a teammate, or knock down the floater at an extremely high level.
Guess what? You can make these floaters too!
Here are three steps to master the floater like Ja Morant!
Step #1: change speeds to keep the defender off balance
Ja Morant is always under control when he is changing speeds with the ball. Morant always gets to where he wants on the basketball court because he changes speeds while he attacks the basket.
His man is always off balance because he has no idea what Morant has planned next.
Changing speeds while handling the ball is a problem for defenses. They will not know how to guard you if they cannot possibly know what you intend to do next.
If you regularly change speeds, you will always be attacking and your defender will always be reacting!
That’s crucial when attacking the basket. You will have a much easier time scoring if you get to your spot before your defender does!
You’re past your defender now. You now see a much taller defender standing under the basket.
You know the floater is your best bet.
So what’s next?
Step #2: slow down and square your shoulders
On each of these floaters, Morant always puts his body at a near standstill before he goes up for a floater.
The purpose of this is to control the shoulders and hips so his hand can be even with the basket as he takes the shot. Slowing himself down gives him more time to align his body and allows him to have more control over his shot mechanics.
Morant’s most clutch floater in the play-in game against the Golden State Warriors is no exception.
The level of body control required to make these floaters in traffic is not as difficult as it seems. You just have to practice slowing your entire body down as you dribble.
Once your muscle memory is used to stopping on a dime, slowing down and squaring your shoulders to the basket will become second nature to you.
And as you slow down, make sure to also square your hips and torso towards the basket. Just like when taking a jump shot, it is imperative to square your body towards the basket.
Because even with your shot mechanics intact, you still have to make the shot.
So what can you do to make the floater on a consistent basis?
Step #3: shoot the ball as slowly as possible
Why should you shoot the ball as slowly as possible?
Slowing down the ball’s speed allows the ball to land softly into the basket, which gives the ball a greater chance of going into the basket!
How do you do this? Put as little spin and as much arc as possible on the ball!
Notice how each NBA player shown on this video makes it a point to slow down the ball’s speed as the floater is taken.
You may ask: why is it true that slowing down the floater
Slowing down the ball’s trajectory gives you a greater margin of error in case the ball hits the rim or backboard. The softer the landing, the more likely the ball will ultimately go into the basket.
Once you ballpark the distance needed between the ball and the defender to get your floater off, you will then master the exact strength and arc required to make the floater nearly every single time.
My advice would be to initially exaggerate the arc needed to make the floater while you practice. This action will train your muscle memory to always shoot higher than usual when shooting a floater.
Then when the game comes, your muscle memory behind your shot mechanics will put just enough arc to make the floater nearly every single time.
How Mastering the Floater makes you an elite scorer
Coaches often say there are three levels to scoring: 1) at the basket; 2) at the midrange area; 3) at the three-point line. To be a three-level scorer is to be a threat to consistently make shots from each of those areas.
The midrange game is a lost art, with the majority of shots taken now being layups and three-pointers. The floater allows you to be a threat to finish at the midrange area at all times.
Layups and free-throws are usually your best bet to score points. However, making layups and drawing fouls to get free-throws is not always a surefire guarantee when facing bigger teams.
Your shot might get blocked. The officials may not call every foul at the basket.
However, the floater is a surefire counter to your opponent having a much taller player stationed in the paint.
Once your finishing and three-point shooting is mastered, you will become an elite, three-level scorer thanks to the floater.