Previously, I broke down some of the quick hitting variations of Portland's basic horns set. I want to continue by demonstrating how these quick hitters flow into their continuity so that as opposed to most NBA offenses, the ball and players are constantly moving rather than ponderously moving from one set to the next. I also want to demonstrate why LeMarcus Aldridge is so key to a lot of what Portland does.
The following two plays illustrate both Portland's continuity and Aldridge's importance to that continuity nicely.
In the last post on Phoenix's pick and roll D, I noted some of the common mistakes the roll defender was making. Now, I'm going to look at some of the mistakes being made by other defenders. All of these examples come with the caveat that for the most part, I have no way of knowing what scheme Phoenix was attempting to run, so it's entirely possible I'm placing blame on someone for not making a rotation they weren't supposed to make. But aside from egregious errors
I see you, Morris Twins
where the players were clearly expecting different schemes or have no idea what a scheme is let alone which one they are attempting, I'm going to assume that everyone is at least attempting to do the right thing.
In rewatching some of the plays I wanted to use for discussing Phoenix's poor pick and roll D, I kept noting to myself 'hey, that was a nice little action Portland ran to get into the PnR.' Meanwhile, my guy Zach Lowe noted "POR offense is gorgeous to watch."
Wes Matthews: just offscreen to the left
And then during the first half of Monday's win in Brooklyn, (where doing the fourth quarter the hone fans sounded like they were yelling "Boooooooo-rooklyn"), Portland's offense hummed. The ball moved, players moved. Brooklyn's defenders where just a little late, a little out of position and Wes Matthews went all Pleasantville. Of course Brooklyn's neanderthal iso-ball routine might make anyone look fluid by comparison.
One of the more interesting development of this early season has been the competitiveness of "tanking" teams like Boston, Philadelphia and especially Phoenix. It's another discussion, perhaps for another day with the guys from PPP, but these teams are building correctly - they aren't trying to lose (more or less intentionally) by playing known crappy veterans (looking
at you, Utah Jazz, playing Richard Jefferson 40 minutes a night), but are willing to take some lumps with their young guys which does three things.
So, a quick intro. I'm a mid 3os lifelong NBA fan, who's been obsessed with sports statistics in general and basketball statistics specifically for as long as I remember. I'm also a fan of the game as a game, with how the players interact with each other across time and space. And not that it matters terribly much, but I also played a little small college ball, which I hope gives me some small insight as to how the game works.
I very much enjoy the discussion that the advances in SABR-style research on the NBA allow us to have, which allow us to say no, Kobe vs. Lebron is not a reasonable discussion (for the last several years it has just been unequivocally true that Lebron is substantially, measurably better), Chris Paul is historically elite and Golden State Monta Ellis was overrated by "CasualFan" because he scored a lot.
However, looking at basketball on paper (though you should read Basketball on Paper) and stopping there is a trap too many (at least in the online discussion community) fall into. Which brings us to the mascot of this blog: Kyle Korver. Korver is not my favorite basketball player, (nor is Ashton Kutcher for that matter.) But he is the poster child for the extreme strawman version of Analytics Only Guy.
AOG looks at his alltime record pace (through 10 games at the time of this writing) .710 True Shooting Percentage (defined here, though I'm assuming if you are reading this blog, you have a passing familiarity with at least basic box score statistics as well as the first generation of advanced metrics such as TS% or PER) and wonders why Atlanta doesn't let him shoot more three pointers, especially from the corner as a Kyle Korver Korner 3 is close to the platonic ideal of a perfect basketball possession.
And the reason Korver doesn't shoot more 3s is because he can't. By NBA standards he's not particularly tall, strong, quick, fast or athletic. And the players on the other team are fairly well compensated to stop Mr. Korver from launching said three. (Well some of the opposition are well compensated to do some stopping, and some are Jamal Crawford or play for the New York Knickerbockers, below the fold we ask where are you going, Mr. Shumpert?)