Ankle breaker or Push-Off?

Hopefully you read my piece about Dribbling vs Ball Handling. Now I want to talk about real ankle breaking moves. Sometimes people get hype about a move but the ball handler doesn’t make a good move. They might push off or step on the defenders foot. Sometimes a defender can slip on their way to playing defense and people would get hype. Not every move is an ankle breaker.

Good defenders will get crossed over just like good shot blockers will get dunked on. If you get crossed over it is not the end of the world but it has to be a legitimate move. If a pick is involved you have to question if the move is legit. Let’s look at this first crossover Deron Williams puts on Chris Paul. Paul guessed wrong and tried to jump the pick and Williams got him with a nice move. It wasn’t an ankle breaking move by any stretch but people would hype it up as that. Paul knew he was beat and went around the screen. Now the second move is a great crossover because it was 1 on 1 and Williams just beat him on the play.

If we look at another crossover that involved a pick, Kyrie Irving shakes Pablo Prigioni. Now this is a legit crossover because Prigioni was done before the screen even got there. Pablo just happened to hit the screen after he was beat. The initial hesitation by Kyrie had Pablo off balance and jumpy so Irving used basic moves to make him look a little silly.

This simple crossover move by Kevin Durant on Vince Carter is an ankle breaker in a sense. There is space and Durant just beats him with a nice move. Carter was done as soon as Durant started his move. Carter didn’t fall but he was out of position to actually make a play.

A non-ankle breaker move is this push off plus trip by Chris Paul on Rudy Gobert. The move looks very bad because Gobert falls to the ground. The replay shows that Paul pushed off and then Gobert stepped on Paul’s foot. To make matters worse Gobert is really tall and he couldn’t regain his balance.

I’m not sure what to call this Joe Johnson move on Paul Pierce. Johnson didn’t really do a crossover, he lost his handle and Pierce was reaching too much and went down. Johnson was able to recover and make Pierce look silly but a better defender would have taken the ball.  The setup to the move was nice and Johnson would still have made Pierce look foolish with a clean crossover, the hiccup made Pierce reach and eventually fall over.

Elite ball handlers can make moves in traffic. Breaking down one defender is cool but when you can break down multiple defenders than you are special. Steph Curry made the Clippers look silly in this clip. Even Matt Barnes was trying to get back on defense thinking Curry would lose the ball. He splits the double team, makes DJ go back into the paint and still freezes Spencer Hawes and Chris Paul.

Kyrie Irving sliced his way through the defense in this Team USA scrimmage. He didn’t break any ankles but he froze every defender in his way.

When you see a move get made just make sure it is a real ankle breaker before you start going crazy. Push offs don’t really count and stepping on a foot can knock any defender off balance. How many ankles have you broken?