There are many different terms used to describe the playing styles of different basketball players. One such term is a slasher, often used to describe a guard or a wing player. The term “slasher” is commonly used when people talk about types of basketball players. But what is a slasher in basketball?
What Does a Slasher in Basketball Mean?
In basketball, players are usually described based not only on their positions but also on how they play the game. The players that can shoot from any spot on the floor are called shooters. Meanwhile, those that excel in protecting the rim on defense are rim protectors or shot-blockers. But what is a slasher basketball player?
Slashers are generally types of basketball players that excel at getting to the basket on offense. And they are not only capable of getting to the rim but are also great at breaking defenses down and making plays by scoring or passing the ball when they get to the basket.
In most cases, slashers are guards and wings that start from the perimeter and make plays when they get to the basket. They start by handling the ball and then make a few series of moves that will allow them to lose their defensive assignment while dribbling to the painted area. But some slashers do not even use crafty dribbling moves because they can get to the basket in a hurry with one quick step and their footwork.
Slashers are valued by their teams because they are excellent at creating shots close to the basket. Of course, closer shots are the more efficient types of shots in basketball. Of course, some slashers are valued because they can break defenses down. When a slasher can easily get to the basket, this player loses their defender and will now have to attract multiple defenders trying to recover or to contest or block a shot at the basket. This allows the slasher the opportunity to attract enough defenders to find open teammates.
Any team needs a slasher to be successful because slashers can make plays independently without the need to rely on running set plays. A slasher with enough space to work with can easily generate points when a play was broken or when the team needs a basket without calling out a play. This is why a lot of the greatest NBA players in the history of the sport are slashers.
How Do You Become a Slasher in Basketball?
To become a slasher in basketball, a player needs a lot of different skills and physical attributes. However, you do not have to have all of these skills or physical attributes to become a slasher because there are slashers capable of getting to the basket by relying on skills.
The most important skill that a slasher needs to develop is dribbling. Learning how to use fundamental dribbles while mixing these dribbles up with a few key moves, such as hesitations and crossovers, can help make a player a slasher. Any player who has mastered dribbling fundamentals and has taken the next step in mastering can become a good slasher. There are plenty of players that have become slashers by using fundamental dribbles.
Footwork is also a skill that is useful for slashers to use. Plenty of different dribble moves can be mixed with footwork to develop combinations that allow a player to find crafty ways to get to the basket. This is basically how the Euro step was developed, involving fundamental dribbling moves and masterful footwork.
Even though dribbling skills and footwork are very important for slashers to develop, the player’s physical attributes can ultimately give the player the advantage needed to become an unstoppable slasher. Many of the different physical attributes that a slasher needs to possess are genetic, but some attributes can be developed through hard work and training.
Some of the physical attributes that can be trained include explosiveness and strength. When we say explosiveness, we are referring to a quick or explosive first step. You do not even have to be gifted with top-level speed to have a quick first step. Meanwhile, having a strong upper body can help a player absorb contact or even push defenders out of position when slashing.
Then there are the physical attributes that cannot be trained. Some slashers are as good as they are because they are tall and athletic. These slashers rely more on their physical attributes than their skills but are still skillful with their dribbles and footwork. However, a slasher with a good combination of height, length, and athleticism is dangerous even without mastering the fundamental skills that a slasher needs.
How Tall Should a Slasher Be?
For those who want to become slashers, the good news is that there is no actual height requirement to become an effective slasher. The most important part of being a slasher is knowing how to get to the basket while losing defenders in the process of doing so. This does not involve being too tall because plenty of different slashers are point guards.
You can be six feet tall or even a tad shorter than that, but that does not mean that you cannot be an effective slasher. As long as the slasher is a masterful ball-handler and has worked hard on the physical aspects such as footwork and explosiveness, that player can be an effective slasher.
However, being a tall player can have a lot of advantages for a slasher. Taller players can cover more ground using fewer movements and lesser time when dribbling their way to the point. This is why some of the best slashers in basketball history are not only skilled but also tall. Such players are usually between 6’6” and 6’8” because these are the players that have the perfect blend of height, athleticism, and skill.
How Do Basketball Players Improve Their Slashing Ability
While some people tend to look at slashing as a natural skill, it is a combination of different skills that can be worked on to improve. A player may be tall and athletic, but that very same player cannot be an effective slasher without developing and improving certain important skills.
Improving as a slasher starts from the basics, which are dribbling skills. A player does not need to have the best crossovers and hesitation moves as a slasher because even fundamental dribbles are enough. Knowing how to effectively dribble the ball with both hands and learning a few crossovers can help improve a slasher’s abilities.
Meanwhile, a good physical attribute that can be trained is an explosive first step. Having an explosive first step does not mean that you are fast. It simply means that you can take a first step that is so quick that your defender will not be able to keep up with it so easily. In most cases, having an explosive first step is already more than enough to become a slasher because that initial first step is all it takes to lose a defender.
There are plenty of different ways to develop an explosive first step. These include plyometric training programs that train the fast-twitch muscles in your legs. And you do not even have to be the most physically athletic player to develop an explosive first step through training.
Another physical attribute that can be trained is strength. Slashers are not only known to get to the basket by losing their defenders because some slashers are strong enough to create enough separation between them and their defenders using their strength. Developing strong upper body muscles that can take bumps and hits while dribbling your way to the paint can help turn you into an effective slasher. Of course, you also need a strong lower body that can help provide the strong base that you need to create contact when slashing.
Here’s a video to learn more about how to improve your slashing ability in basketball:
5 Best Slashers in NBA History
If you want a few examples of what a slasher is, here are some of the best slasher NBA players:
1. Dwyane Wade
Because much of his style involved getting to the basket, Dwyane Wade is often regarded as one of the greatest slashers of all time. Wade used his blazing speed, masterful dribbles, and excellent athleticism as a slasher. Even though Wade learned how to make midrange jumpers as he got older, his bread and butter relied on getting points inside the paint.
2. Tony Parker
Tony Parker is the perfect example of a slasher who does not need to be big, strong, and extremely athletic. Even though Parker was always known for his quickness and speed, he often used his quick first step and craftiness to get to the paint. Tony Parker was better than most centers at generating points inside the paint at one point in his career.
3. LeBron James
LeBron James is your man if you want the perfect slasher in terms of skills, size, and athleticism. LeBron made a career out of getting to the paint to score points or make plays for his teammates. He often uses his freakish strength and athleticism to his advantage when getting to the basket, but he is also known for having dribble moves that are better than most players half his size.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is another quintessential slasher that lives by getting the ball to the basket and finishing strong at the rim. Antetokounmpo is another perfect example of how physical attributes blended with fundamental dribbles and footwork to create a perfect slasher. Antetokounmpo can get from the three-point line to the rim in a blink of an eye with only one dribble and a few steps.
5. Michael Jordan
Even though Michael Jordan was a midrange player during the most successful years of his career, he started as an unstoppable slasher that started the entire Air Jordan movement. Jordan brought a combination of crafty dribbles, length, and freakish athleticism to the table during his younger years when he was almost exclusively a slasher.
Wrapping Things Up: What is a Slasher in Basketball?
All that said, a slasher is one of the most important players on any basketball team because of how slashers are capable of generating offense as scorers or passers when they break defenses down by getting to the paint. But, even though people often think that slashers are naturally gifted athletes, the good news is that anyone can be a slasher as long as the player trains in the fundamentals and works on the different physical attributes that slashers need have to succeed.