[Today, we have a guest story on Monty Williams' play-calling from one of my favorite NBA writers, Sebastian Pruiti. He breaks down NBA play-calling extensively at his website, NBA Playbook, and you can also find his work at SBNation, The Basketball Jones, and Basketball Prospectus. Enjoy. -R]
One of the toughest things (along with developing a starting lineup and rotation) for a new head coach is drawing up plays during timeouts. Now, being an assistant, Williams has probably had some input on post-timeout plays, but this season with the Hornets was the first time he was on his own in terms of playcalling out of timeouts. With that being said, despite finishing 4th in my Clipboard Awards (it was a system that just looked at good plays and ignored the bad ones), Williams' Hornets was one of the worst teams when it came to scoring it after timeouts. In 1140 post-timeout possessions, the Hornets scored just 931 points, good for a PPP of 0.817 (good for 27th in the NBA).
So what went wrong with Williams' playcalling coming out of timeouts? One of the problems that I have noticed is that when the Hornets fail to score out of a timeout, it is because there is not enough movement on the court. When coming out of a timeout, the defense is already set, this means that you usually aren't going to be able to make one pass and come up with a good look (usually) as everyone just stands around:
Here you have a simple dribble handoff, one pass, a cut through, and then a post entry pass. Landry misses an ok look, but coming out of a timeout, you want to try to get a better look. To do that, you want to get Landry in better position, and that would require him to move off of the basketball (maybe get a cross-screen) a little bit. Having Landry just stand there doesn't allow him to establish position.
In addition to some poor playcalling decisions coming out of timeouts, Williams' team did leave him hanging a few times when he did draw up some great plays:
Now, on all of the plays above, Williams did a great job drawing up a solid set to get his team the basketball in a position to score. On all of these plays, there were turnovers. While the coach is somewhat to blame (you need to put your players in a position where you know they will succeed), this is mostly the fault of the players.
Despite the poor performance coming out of timeouts, Monty Williams is still responsible for one of my favorite after timeout plays of all time:
This "swinging gate" type of play is really hard to defend when you aren't expecting it, and Monty Williams did a great sprinkling it in during the regular season.
All things considered, I think Williams has the potential to be a pretty good playcaller coming out of timeouts. He just has to make sure he maintains ball/player movement to get the defense moving and out of position.