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 post in my Season Leftovers series looked at BLOB sets, and after looking at a few different plays in a few different situations, we have returned to BLOB sets, looking at a few more set plays coming from underneath the offense’s own basket.
Detroit Gets An Easy Look for Richard Hamilton
In recent years, Richard Hamilton has been one of my favorite players to watch, and usually it is when he doesn’t have the basketball. Hamilton might be the best player in the league at using screens off of the basketball (Ray Allen is up there as well), and coach John Kuester was able to use that skill to get his team, and one of his best shooters, a wide-open look late in their game against the Utah Jazz.
As soon as the ball gets handed to the trigger man, Tayshaun Prince goes from his spot at the top of the key and uses the two screens that the Pistons’ bigs set for him.
Once Prince clears the area that Hamilton wants to get to, he uses the two screens. Now, this is where the skill of Richard Hamilton and his ability to use screens comes into play. Look at how close Hamilton comes off the bigs’ screen. Since he is rubbing off the bigs’ hip is that it forces Hamilton’s man (in this case Deron Williams) to trail him.
The effect Tayshaun Prince’s cut had on the Utah Jazz defense becomes pretty apparent when you look at this screen shot. Al Jefferson was playing off of his man, ready to help on any cut in the lane (which is what Prince did). However, because he helped on Prince’s cut, he was out of position to help on Hamilton. With Williams needing to trail the screen, Hamilton ends up being wide-open with both Jefferson and Williams off of him. Also, Hamilton curls his screen enough where he is able to catch and go straight up. He doesn’t need to adjust his body at all.
Hamilton set up his body well enough that he was able to make the catch and quickly go up with the shot. With Jefferson and Williams out of position, neither of them are able to challenge the shot, allowing Hamilton to easily knock it down. Here is the play in real time:
This play call is simple, but I think it does enough to get Richard Hamilton open, allowing for Hamilton to put his skills on display. That’s exactly what he does here, using the screens set for him very well.
Miami Gets Chris Bosh A Wide-Open Look
With just 7 seconds left on the shot clock and 2:51 left in the game, the Miami Heat had the basketball on the baseline with a 2-point lead. Looking to get a good, quick look, the Heat decided to run a set play from the baseline. The result was one of my favorite set plays of the season:
The play starts with the Miami Heat getting in a box formation, but instead of starting the bottom players on the blocks, they are up towards the elbow. As the ball goes to the trigger man, LeBron James, Mike Miller uses a screen set by Udonis Haslem to get to the corner. Because Miller was knocking his shot down this game, this action really draws the attention of the defense. Not only does Derrick Rose trail Miller over the top of the screen, but Carlos Boozer strays away from Haslem to beat Miller to the corner and take the pass away.
Once Miller gets to the corner, Dwyane Wade flashes straight to the basketball. No screen, no jab step in the other direction, just a straight sprint to the basketball. This is another action designed to draw help defense. In addition to Ronnie Brewer trailing Wade, Joakim Noah gets sucked in to help on the cutting action.
What these two flashes to the basketball did was draw the defense to the basket. All five Bulls defenders are below the restricted area if you extend it along the width of the court. This allows Haslem to set up a screen in the middle for Chris Bosh who flares behind it. Wade’s cut does a fantastic job of sucking Noah in and actually causing Noah to set himself up for Haslem’s screen.
The screen set by Haslem wasn’t to free Bosh up (he was already open), instead, it was designed to knock Bosh’s man off of his path as he closes out on him. Because Noah got sucked in, his path to close out on Bosh took him right into Haslem’s screen. That is exactly what happens as Bosh makes the catch and knocks down the wide-open jumper, extending the Heat’s lead to four points. Here is the play in real time:
On set plays like this, you usually see one decoy, but rarely see two. That is exactly what happens here as both Miller coming off the screen and Wade running straight to the basketball draws two defenders. The secondary action of this play is also fantastic, with Haslem setting the screen for Bosh instead of relying on Bosh just cutting off of the basketball.
With all of that being said, what really makes this play is the timing. If Miller or Wade cuts too soon, you won’t really have the same effect of drawing the entire defense towards the baseline. Great design by coach Erik Spoelstra, even better execution by the Heat players.