Passes That Only the NBA's Most Elite Point Guards Can Make
When the NBA's most elite point guards are in the zone, they make the types of plays that other floor generals shouldn't even try.
The old saying "don't try this at home" applies when watching dime-droppers like Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash and Chris Paul.
It takes an uncanny amount of court vision and instinct—along with exceptional precision and timing—in order to pull off a jaw-dropping assist.
Let's take a look at how some of the best passers in the NBA get it done.
1. The "Thread-the-needle" Bounce Pass
A bounce pass is a handy tool for a point guard to have, and it's an excellent way to deliver the ball past taller players. Point guards use bounce passes all the time, but very few of them can fit the ball through a tight window while their teammate and defenders are on the move.
Check out Rajon Rondo effortlessly slipping the ball past LeBron James and Mario Chalmers to perfectly lead Paul Pierce.
As Jeff Van Gundy notes, the degree of difficulty is high because Rondo must bounce it off a precise spot on the floor. A slightly inaccurate bounce would be deflected and result in a turnover.
2. Hesitation Dribble Sets Up the Alley-Oop
Anybody can toss an alley-oop to a tall, athletic forward. But there are only a couple of guards in the NBA who can use the dribble and body language to freeze an entire defense and set up a no-look lob.
Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo are the best at executing this maneuver in the half-court setting. They use their ball-handling skills to get into the lane, and they keep the defense honest with their options and ball fakes.
The key to completing an easy lob is to freeze the dunker's defender and any potential help defenders.
In the following lob to DeAndre Jordan, Paul not only freezes Jazz pick-and-roll defender Al Jefferson, but he keeps Paul Millsap at bay because he threatens to drive all the way to the hoop. The beauty of this play isn't the actual pass, but the setup.
3. The Off-Balance, No-Look Pass
Not all no-look passes are created equal.
Some are gift-wrapped, easy plays in a two-on-one or three-on-one situation. Others involve much more hand-eye coordination and other-worldly instincts. Some are premeditated, and others are split-second decisions while attacking the hoop.
In the video below, Steve Nash delivers a Magic Johnson-caliber pass by flipping the ball over his right shoulder with pinpoint accuracy into Grant Hill's shooting pocket.
Rajon Rondo had a similar "Houdini Pass" against the Nuggets. The accuracy of these tosses is astounding.
4. The Left-Handed, Behind-the-Back Bounce
Anyone who's played a little basketball—even pickup—has tried a few behind-the-back passes.
But how many people can execute a left-handed behind-the-back bounce pass to a cutting teammate?
It takes years of practice and a healthy portion of God-given talent to be able to dish with the weak hand so effortlessly. Reading the defense is critical, and so is maintaining the proper height of the bounce.
This kind of pass is attempted a decent amount in the NBA, but only the most polished passers can do it with ease and and make their teammates look better.
Nash makes it look like a piece of cake here, and Rondo also possesses this skill.
People still crow about the spell-binding passing skills of players like Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson, John Stockton and Jason Kidd (in his prime). But today's cast of Rondo, Nash and Paul are giving them a run for their money.
Young passers such as Ricky Rubio, John Wall and Kendall Marshall could soon perfect some of the aforementioned ultra-difficult passes.
Until then, let's continue enjoying the exploits of Rondo and his elite company.
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