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Pistons signature play: Tobias Harris’ off hand finish

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The ability to finish with either hand keeps defenders guessing.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

For professional hoopsters, the off-season is a chance to let their body heal and just as important, to work on their craft. Setting an abstract goal of “getting better” usually doesn’t cut it so they will pick one specific aspect of their game to hone in on and perfect during the summer months. The hope is to implement that new found or newly polished skill into the following season.

Tobias Harris has clearly logged gym minutes working on finishing with the left (off) hand and it’s now a staple of his offensive arsenal.

The Play

There is no smoke and mirrors but Harris’ off hand finish is trickier than it leads on.

Above, in a half court Horns set, Harris blow by Blake Griffin attacks the rim and finishes with the left. Aron Baynes wrestles with DeAndre Jordan long enough to negate any block attempt. Good play on both Harris and Baynes.

What if Baynes/Drummond aren’t around to occupy the rim protector? Or what if Harris is challenging the opposing big by himself?

Most (consistent) shot blockers own instinctual and impeccable timing that allow them to anticipate what the ball handler is going to do. Finding a way to throw that timing off allows openings that normally wouldn’t exist.

Once Steven Adams switches onto Harris, the mismatch is ripe for the taking. Despite being slower footed, Adams can rely on meeting Harris at the rim. Being on the left side of the hoop signals to Adams that Harris will jump off his right foot to finish and his “instincts” kick in. Harris not only finished with his off hand but - technically - jumps off the wrong foot. That slight adjustment leaves the OKC big in the dust and without altering the shot.

Slick stuff.

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Successfully defending in transition also relies on timing and recognition no matter if you’re big, small or in-between. Below, Harris is leading a pseudo-fastbreak with only Kristaps Porzingis standing in the way. Oh, I should mention that’s 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis.

There is no doubt that Porzingis is timing his defense as soon as Harris crosses mid court. Harris side steps the Zinger, jumps off the wrong foot and again, finishes with the left. The ball doesn’t touch his left hand until it’s time to shoot.

Below is a similar scenario but with a less than shot blocker:

And again, Harris side steps the initial defender in Anthony Tolliver, and scores with the left hand. Had he tried to finish with the right hand, there is a good chance the trailing defender (Garrett Temple) could’ve altered the shot.

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Community Question

Who had the best off hand you’ve seen? Currently, John Wall and LeBron James come to mind. What about this guy?