Floater or Lob pass: Which move is Trae Young about to do?

The question that puts defences in a mental pretzel.

I, like everyone else watching the playoffs this year, have been blown away by Trae.

The little shrimp breaks the brains of defenders thanks to, what I believe, has become his signature move.

The floater.

Sorry, I meant lob.

I mean… Shit. Which one is it?

^ See these photos?

Well, some of them are Trae, right before he shoots a floater.

And some, are what he looks like right before he throws a lob pass.

Now, which one is which?

I know, you’re thinking it’s a trick question. They’re all lobs. Or all floaters.



But hindsight is 20/20. At the moment, before Trae releases the ball, it’s damn near impossible to tell the difference.


Trae Young looks the same before he throws a lob, or shoots a floater.

And it drives defences crazy.

For those of you that managed to guess correctly: Congrats.

The Knicks could use you in their pick n roll coverage.

What makes this play by Trae all the more frustrating, is that floaters are the least efficient shot in all of basketball.

It’s the shot defences want you to take.


After Trae comes off the screen <-here, he has a defender (Danny Green) chasing him from behind, and another (Tobias Harris) between him and the hoop.

To make a floater, Trae has to to shoot on the run. He doesn’t have time to gather the ball with two hands, stop, and take a jump shot, because the defender chasing him will have time to contest the shot.

He also has to get the ball high enough, so that the defender in front of him can’t block the shot.

So the shot needs to be made, on the run, with a defender chasing him, over a defender in front of him, with one hand.

It’s a high degree of difficulty. Rarely do players make this shot at a high level of efficiency.

Notable exceptions include:

Tony Parker

Steve Nash

Kemba Walker.

And, of course, Trae Young.


So when the defense gives up a floater, coaches will tell you that they had a successful possession. That the defence did its job. That they made the offence take an inefficient shot.

Right Knicks fans?

But the problem isn’t just that Trae can score from this position. He’ll toss lobs for alley-pop dunks, making the opposing centres look stupid.

And he disguises these passes so well. The throws the lob pass from the same position he shoots a floater from.


Nearly identical.

Now, the centres job in this coverage (called drop-coverage) is to do 3 things:

  1. If Trae shoots, contest the shot.
  2. If Trae passes, cover his man.
  3. Get the rebound.

It’s a big ask. And Trae doesn’t make it any easier.


Effectively, it’s a 2 on 1:

Trae and Capela vs Embiid.

By throwing the lob pass from the same position that he shoots his floater, Trae makes Embiid’s decision a hopeless one.

Embiid must contest the shot, or cover Capela. And if Trae’s body language, stance, and release point, look the same before he makes his read (to shoot, or pass) Embiid has nothing to work with.

He can’t anticipate what he can’t see coming.

He’s fucked.

It’s a Catch-22. As in, “catch these 22 lobs”. Or 22 points.

You won’t know which is which, until it’s too late.



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Small W’s

West coast kid with love for the East. Just out of uni and working on being alive. Will try almost anything once and will definitely write about it. Stay tuned.