Floater, the ‘ultimate weapon’, becomes a variable that will influence the championship

SK actively utilizes floater, defies expectations and wins 77-69 against KGC

Floater, an offensive technique in basketball, is considered an advanced technique whose value is gradually increasing in modern basketball. It is a method of running and shooting like a layup, but due to the nature of the motion in which the ball is launched with an overhand, the difficulty of the mechanism is higher than that of a general layup or jump shot. Instead, it has the advantage that the shooting timing is faster and the angle of elevation is higher, making it difficult to block, so once you start entering, you are in a situation where the opponent can’t block it even if they know it.

Floaters are used as an essential offensive technique by strikers in NBA (American professional basketball) and overseas stages. Even top players such as Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, James Harden, and Trae Young can often be seen using the floater as a ‘special move’ at critical moments. It is considered a useful skill for short dribblers because it is effective in dealing with players bigger than themselves, but it is more threatening when tall players are equipped with floaters.

Professional basketball Seoul SK proved that they can dominate the game with floaters. SK produced an unexpected 77-69 victory in the first leg of the 2022-23 professional basketball championship match against Anyang KGC, the regular league winner held at the Anyang Indoor Gymnasium on April 25. With this, SK continued its 16-game winning streak from the 6th round of the regular league to the playoffs and the championship match.

Seoul SK coach Jeon Hee-chul predicted a ‘molppang basketball’ centered on Kim Seon-hyeong and Jamil Warney when asked about the management strategy for the championship game. SK, which was evaluated as inferior to Anyang KGC, who was ahead of Anyang KGC in regular season rankings and team power due to the absence of Ahn Yeong-jun (Senior Director) and Choi Jun-yong (injury), admitted that they had no choice but to solve the game with a focus on the ‘one-two punch’ Kim Seon-hyeong and Jamil Warney.

The MVP duo also did not disappoint. Warney made a big success with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals, and Kim Seon-hyeong recorded 22 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. KGC also struggled with Omari Spellman (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Oh Se-geun (21 points, 16 rebounds), but there was a difference in concentration in the game. In this game, as many as four players from both teams set a record for double-doubles in one game.

What stands out here is that SK launched an attack that used the plotter exceptionally actively that day. Of the 45 points that Warney and Kim Seon-hyeong collaborated on, a whopping 32 points were scored with plotters. The two players succeeded in 10 field goals each side by side that day, and among them, Warney had 9 and Kim Seon-hyeong had 7, and the proportion of floaters was overwhelming. Excluding 3-point shots (Kim Seon-hyeong 2/3) and free throws (Warney 3/3), it is no exaggeration to say that the main offensive option for the two players throughout the game was virtually a floater.

The reason why KGC, which boasts the best defense in the league, suffered Kim Seon-hyeong-Warney’s basketball despite knowing about it, was because they couldn’t stop the plotters. Although KGC had the upper hand in height, Warney and Kim Seon-hyung’s floaters, who were throwing with defense, were pierced with 100 shots and 100 shots, and the defense under the goal was neutralized.

Warney, the first offensive option, has already used a floater as his main weapon in the regular league. In the championship game, where his opponent’s concentrated check was already expected, Warney used a pattern of finishing with a quick floater from the free throw line before being surrounded by KGC’s double team rather than hitting deep into the net. He hit directly under the goal and had the effect of reducing the consumption of physical strength rather than putting it in with a fight. On this day, Warney did not show any tiredness while digesting the full time for 40 minutes. 

Also noteworthy was the movement of Kim Seon-hyung. Among domestic players, Kim Seon-hyeong is equipped with a high-level floater ability, but on this day, he intentionally used the floater more often than usual. Kim Seon-hyung, who has excellent breakthrough power, was able to take two options at the same time: his own shot or A-pass after stirring up KGC’s defense with his unique speed and off-beat steps.

In fact, Seonhyung Kim’s breakthrough here always had the pass in mind rather than his own attack. However, it is not easy to match the timing for an outside pass when he is rapidly breaking through the bottom of the goal. Here, the floater can make a natural connection regardless of whether he chooses to score or pass, depending on the opponent’s movement. The opponent gets confused about whether Kim Sun-hyung will shoot or pass, and loses his rhythm.

The fact that Kim Seon-hyung recorded double-digit assists that day is proof that he focused on selfless play. KGC could not help but be conscious of Kim Seon-hyung’s plotter, so naturally the response timing had to be delayed one beat at a time. It was possible because Kim Seon-hyung’s plotter was backed by an attack option that the opponent could not ignore. It is also a scene that showed that floaters can bring a ‘tactical advantage’ at the team level beyond the efficient attacking skills of individual players.

In addition, coach Jeon Hee-chul gave up his unique three-guard system to diversify KGC’s defense, and boldly appointed sixth-man tall shooter Heo Il-young as a starter, focusing on expanding the space for Warney and Kim Seon-hyung to work. As for KGC, it was difficult to score and catch up, but when the situation of being repeatedly beaten by the opponent’s plotter knowingly was in vain, it was inevitable that the pulse would fall. 

In fact, Korean basketball has been late in accepting the tactical value of plotters. Only a few players, such as Lee Hyeon-min, Jeon Tae-pung, and Kim Seon-hyung, were relatively good at plotters. Just 10 years ago, even basketball experts disparaged floaters as ‘just shots’ or ‘low-probability plays’. Fortunately, the number of players actively trying floaters has recently increased, especially foreign players, but there are still only a handful of domestic players who use floaters as their main attacking option with perfection.

The first leg of the championship match between the two teams showed how much the value of floaters has increased in modern basketball. The reason why coach Jeon Hee-chul was able to predict the basketball with confidence was because of the confidence that “Kim Seon-hyeong and Warnie’s floaters can’t be stopped even if they know it anyway.” KGC confirmed that allowing Warney and Kim Seon-hyung a bit of space near the free throw line pays a price. It is noteworthy what kind of defensive solution KGC, who was badly beaten by the plotter,안전놀이터 will come up with from the second game.

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