Though it’s been around for a while, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili is often credited as the first player to popularise the “Eurostep” in the NBA.
Dwyane Wade mastered it too, and now Houston Rockets star James Harden is the league’s most lethal Eurostepper.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle wrote an article about how Harden deploys the move, and it gives you a good idea why he’s so unstoppable.
The Eurostep is a quick two-step change in direction move that players use while driving to the basket.
The dribbler plants one foot one way, then uses a long lateral step in the other direction to go around the defender and get an open shot.
Here, Dwyane Wade uses it to perfection. His first step takes him toward the middle of the court, and then the second step takes him the other direction for an easy layup:
Harden in particular has made the move impossible to defend, because he’s added another feature to it: drawing fouls on players who reach for the ball as he goes around them.
Harden is averaging a league-high 26.9 points per game this season, and he leads the NBA in free throws attempted with 10 per game. With his ability to finish at the basket or get to the line, Harden has become a nightmare for defenses.
As Harden told Feigen he’s not as explosive as Wade or other guards, so he added the Eurostep to be more crafty:
“When I first came in, I said I wasn’t the most athletic guy or the quickest guy, but I can get to my spots. The Eurostep is another way to help me get to my spot if I can’t jump over the defender.
“I do it to avoid the defender. If he still makes contact, hopefully I’m strong enough to hold the basketball and try to finish the play. Tough move. You just have to be crafty. Not a lot of people are crafty.”
Harden often gets compared to Ginobili because they aren’t athletic enough to jump over defenders. Instead, they go right around guys:
When the defence plays him tighter, however, Harden is even craftier at drawing fouls. He often extends or lifts his arms way past his body, making defenders reach and usually make contact with him to draw the foul.
Here, Harden doesn’t completely evade the defender, so as he completes his second step, he holds the ball up high and takes just an extra second to draw the contact before throwing the shot up to get the foul:
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Harden’s ability to draw fouls makes his version of the Eurostep unique:
“He’s just crafty. He’s clever. Ginobili is the only guy you can try to compare, but Ginobili doesn’t try to swipe the ball underneath your arms and draw fouls as much. It’s unorthodox. Players are used to going for the ball. As soon as you go for the ball, James is too smart, too quick. He’s going to draw the foul.”
It’s incredibly frustrating for opponents. If you sag off Harden, he’s going to go right around you. If you play him tight, he’s going to contort his body and arms into a position where you’re almost forced to foul.
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