One of my favorite college basketball blogs is a site called The Mikan Drill, a site that looks at the Xs and Os of the college game. Something that they have been over there since the season has ended was Season Leftovers, looking at some great sets over the course of the college season. An idea so good, that I decided to bring it over here during the NBA offseason.
The first group of sets that we are going to look at are BLOB sets, or Base Line Out of Bounds. In my opinion, scoring from the baseline in the NBA is probably the hardest situation due to the fact that you have 10 men in the area around the basket. This means that if you want to score directly out of a BLOB set, you have to run something really special:
Staggered Off-Ball Screen For Terry
If you look at PPP, or points per possession, the Dallas Mavericks are the best team in the NBA in these BLOB situations. During the regular season, the Mavericks were the only team scoring over 1 PPP, posting a PPP of 1.0122 on 48.1% shooting. The Mavericks love to run a lot of interesting stuff that results in off-ball screens for their shooters. Perhaps my favorite play is one that had Jason Terry running off of a staggered screen off of the basketball along the baseline.
The play starts with Jason Terry setting a screen for Tyson Chandler, allowing Chandler to pop out towards the corner, make himself available, and get the pass.
Once Chandler makes the catch, he quickly pivots out and hits Jason Kidd with a pass on the wing. As Chandler made his catch, Kidd walked his man down and then quickly popped out, looking for the ball.
Peja Stojakovic, the man who inbounded the ball to Tyson Chandler, runs out towards the wing, coming off of a pindown screen set by Shawn Marion.
As Stojakovic comes off of the screen, Marion slides in position to set a baselinescreen for Jason Terry as the man in front for a staggered screen away from the basketball, allowing Terry to flash to the corner. Maybe the most important aspect of this play is how Terry sets it up. He walks his defender (in this case Steve Nash) in the opposite direction and when the staggered screen is in position, he quickly changes directions. This quick change of direction catches Nash off guard.
So now, Nash not only has to navigate his way through a staggered screen, but he also gets a late jump. Kidd puts his pass right on the mark, allowing Terry to rise up and knock down the jumper before Nash can contest. Here is the play in real time:
Just a real nice play using change of direction. The whole flow of the play makes it feel like Kidd is going to swing the ball to Stojakovic, but that is only a decoy, allowing Terry’s staggered screen get in position for him to use it.
Kenyon Martin’s Slipped Screen
The Denver Nuggets posted the second best PPP this past season, scoring 0.9439 points every time they inbounded the basketball from the baseline on 44.6% shooting. Like the Mavericks, the Nuggets love using screens to free up their shooters. However, with their athletic frontcourt, the Nuggets can also use their shooters to set up easy opportunities for their bigs:
One of the play the Nuggets like to run is a cross screen with two bigs allowing a shooter to come towards the basketball (in this case Arron Afflalo).
This puts the defender of the second screener in an incredibly tough position. He has to stay in front of his man, but he also has to be prepared to jump out on Afflalo if he catches the pass wide open.
With David Lee aware that he has to jump out and be ready to defend Afflalo, that leaves a little gap to the front of the rim, and that is exactly what the Nuggets want. Martin dives to the front of the rim, looking for the lob.
J.R. Smith puts the ball right on the money, allowing Martin to make the catch and slam the ball home. Here is the play in real time:
The threat of the lob is so important for the Denver Nuggets and their BLOB offense. You hit this once, and a defender like David Lee is forced to worry about it all game long. He will never be in position to jump out on the shooter, and this will result in open shots for the Nuggets.