Paul George was ashamed. He had to be. Garbage time, everyone ready to go home, just waiting on those seconds to peel off the clock and then he gets dropped. This was probably the first time in recorded history that a player went on Twitter after the fact and tried defending himself. Paul, just admit it. The rook got you. Norris Cole dabbled the salt shaker on you and you went stumbling five feet backwards.
There’s a reason why so many readers argued over whether this move we showcased in Smack was legal, or if it was even nice. Besides the dunk, no other play in basketball has the potential to thrill like the crossover does. Ask George or Cole.
On Monday night, I watched Jamal Crawford go off for 26, his best game as a Blazer. As up and down as one of the game’s premier sixth men has been this season (eight single-digit scoring games, five games with at least 20-plus), anyone that has the nickname J-Crossover has the potential to ignite the crowd, so much so that when I broke down the 10 best crossovers ever, Crawford made the list. This is nothing new. Back in our HoopsTV days, I remember asking on forums if someone could shed some light on Crawford highlights from high school. He could always dance.
There are guards all over the league who can shake. Ben Gordon has the sneakiest handle in the league. Kyrie Irving already has my new favorite spin move. I said back before the season started that Tyreke Evans might have the best all-around handles in the league. But the best crossovers? A few guys stand out above the rest.
Here are the players who own the five best crossovers in the game today.
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5. John Wall
I thought about Baron Davis, but he’d rather shoot threes than break someone down off the dribble. This isn’t 2005 anymore. I thought about Tony Parker but he’s unleashed just enough of an outside game that he isn’t cracking people as much as he used to back in the day. I didn’t really want to put John Wall here for a few reasons. 1) He’s barely had a year of pro ball in him. And 2) We don’t want to make a habit out of hyping him up too much. He’s going to be great (he’s already started making the jump in the past two weeks), but just needs a little more time. Yet at the end of the day, for everything he’s still learning, Wall definitely has one of the best crossovers in the league. It’s the Jason Kidd 2.0: He took what Kidd was great at – going coast-to-coast and changing directions at full speed – and added one of those boosters from The Fast And The Furious.
If you read our cover story on Wall back in issue #66, you’d know I spent a ton of time with the Wizards’ leading man this summer. We talked about his issues growing up, his insane 21st birthday parties and the Wizards’ struggles. But perhaps more than anything, I wanted to know how he pulled off the moves he does: the full-speed crossover and the spin move. His answers were simple: I only react. I don’t plan moves and I don’t really practice them. It’s all reading the defense and reacting off of it.
Wall actually might have the best stationary cross in the game. His ability to go from standstill to full speed off one side-to-side dribble (as Evan Turner finds out here) is almost unparalleled.