James Johnson, Raptors’ lock-down defender, has added a move to his offensive arsenal that is making him a pretty big threat at the other end of the court.
It’s the Euro step, first popularized in the NBA by San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili and since copied by the likes of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and John Wal
In short, it’s an offensive manoeuvre in which the player changes direction after picking up his dribble while driving to the basket. After picking up his dribble, the player steps in one direction and then steps in another direction to evade defenders and often avoid a charge call.
Johnson’s Euro step, however, is different from the others.
“His core is so strong so he can do it at a speed that other players can’t,” Raptors coach Jama Mahlalela said. “Most players, it’s a fast motion. Bang-bang and faster. He’s strong enough that he can go and stop and then come back and still get control. All the drills we do are to enhance that getting in control. It is the perfect move for him.”
Johnson worked on it over the summer and has been doing a lot of work, much of it with a medicine ball at nights when he comes back to the gym with Mahlalela.
“Medicine-ball heavy work allows him to control the ball up top (above his shoulders), get through contact and then finish it,” Mahlalela said. “The biggest thing with James is finishing at the rim. He can get to the rim every single time.”
Next up for Johnson according to Mahlalea: Mastering the corner threes.