What Does Dropping Dimes Mean In Basketball?

By Alex Mercer

October 3, 2019

When watching a basketball game, we can often hear the announcer say “that pass was a dime”. A dime often has one meaning when talking about basketball terminology.

Dropping dimes in basketball is another name for an assist. The term dropping dimes is when a difficult pass is made from one player to another.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the meaning of dropping dimes in basketball, where it came from, and how it’s commonly used in basketball today.

What’s Dropping Dimes In Basketball?

It means completing a difficult pass in basketball, which results in a basket, otherwise known as an assist. For those who are unfamiliar with an assist, it’s when a play passes the ball to another player who scores either 2 or 3 points.

The basketball is often moved up and down the court with normal chests and bounce passes. However, there’s something special about perfectly placed passes. Across the court, between a defender’s legs, no-look, or perfectly timed passes are often called dimes.

Although “dimes” don’t show up on a stat sheet, the assist does. So it’s important to get the ball to the scoring player as soon as possible to record an assist. Sometimes that means dropping a dime.

How The Term “Dropping Dimes” Came Into Existence

The first explanation of dropping dimes comes from the days of payphones, it would cost a dime to make a phone call. If someone would assist you in helping to make a phone call, they would be “dropping a dime” for you. This term, like most terms, made it’s way into sports and became known as making a spectacular, well-timed pass.

Below is a video of Steve Nash talking about the theory and how it came into existence, which supports the phone call theory.

It’s also a term used to help someone who needs money. You would be “dropping a dime” for them. This is when 10 cents were relevant for either food or could make a significant impact on society. The term stuck however and we still use dropping a dime to this day.

Another popular theory is that shooting a dime is in relation to how small the US dime really is. Placing the ball in such a perfect, small area, only a dime could fit through, is the reason behind the term.

The most common theory is the payphone one that we’re seeing above. There are many more theories such as it had some carry-over from the term “stopping on a dime”, that a player could do other things quickly and instantly.

Players That Drop A Dime

Point guards are usually the position who drop the most dimes. Point guards are the main position that carries the ball up the floor. They are also known as the quarterback in basketball.

The point guards aren’t necessarily skilled in shooting the basketball, but their natural ball-handling and passing ability make them a special talent. Players like Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball are known for their ability to set up the offensive attack and get the ball to their playmakers in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

Although point guards are often the skilled passers on a basketball court, it’s common to see shooting guards and forwards drop dimes on the defense.

LeBron James for instance is usually in the highlight reel for his showtime dunks. However, he typically drops 1-2 dimes a night that makes his game even more impressive. Players that are well rounded, act a duel threat both scorer and passer, will often make it to the top of the NBA charts.

How To Drop Dimes In Basketball

Great passers are made, they’re not born. Consistently work on the bounce and chest pass at all distances on the court. If you’re smaller stature and you have great ball-handling skills, work on your passing game just as much as you work on your shooting game.

Basketball players who are great passers have a dramatic impact on the game, as they make scoring that much easier. Players often work on just their jump shot and their dribble. Making great passes, or “dropping dimes” is just as equally important.

Playing in pickup games and against your friends in the driveway is a good way to start practicing. Becoming an elite passer is noticing how the ball bounces, and how you’re able to fit the ball into tight spaces, understanding the leverage and a wingspan of the defender.


Dropping a dime means a player makes a pretty assist or a difficult pass, for a score. The term is often used by announcers or fans in the stands to detail a hard pass made by a player.

Point guards are often known for dropping dimes, as their ball-handling and quick precision passing is often on top of their skill sets. Point guards aren’t necessarily known for their scoring ability, but the ability to facilitate offense for the other players.

Dropping a dime is something that can be practiced over time. We recommend consistently working on both chest passes and bounce passes in order to officially become a dime dropper.

Players who have gifted passing ability often are able to tell how the defending players move, operate and how quickly they are to the basketball. Breaking down these important details will help you, as a passer, make the correct measurements when trying to fit a pass through a tight window.

As mentioned, practice until you can’t practice anymore. That’s how elite passers are born and dropping dimes becomes an everyday thing.

What is your version of “dropping a dime”? How did you learn how to drop dimes before after or even during the season? Let us know in the comment section below how you’re able to drop dimes and what your best pass has been.

About the author

Hey There! My Name is Alex and I run Get Hyped Sports. I created this platform to help people find their love for sports and gaming.

Our work has been featured on platforms like Mashable.com, SVG.com, and XXL.com.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}