Monty Williams recently suggested that the Pelicans’ offense may undergo significant changes. Last week, I took a look at what these changes might entail, focusing on how the Pelicans new roster could take advantage of an increased pace.
Here are a few more offensive actions that we could see next season:
Though this iteration is run lazily, the Sixers would often run this set to give jumpstart a pick and roll for Jrue Holiday. A secondary ball handler, generally Evan Turner (with Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, and even Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts, the Pelicans have several viable secondary ball handlers), brings the ball up the court while Holiday sets up in the wing or corner.
Holiday then sprints towards the top of the key, receiving the ball on a pass or handoff, and runs off a screen near the elbow. This play, especially if run with more attention to detail (Spencer Hawes makes no contact on the screen when a slip has no benefit because the defense does not have time to overcommit to Holiday), gives helps create separation before the defense is able to counter. By giving Holiday the ball on the move, he can easily turn the corner on a hedging big man or beat a guard trying to "Ice" the screen.
This play also complement Ryan Anderson’s ability to quickly pop out, set his feet, and take a jump shot. The defending big man may be forced to hedge hard on Holiday to prevent him from reaching the rim, leaving Anderson the opportunity to roll out for an open three point attempt.
Evan Turner Screen For Jrue Holiday (via Joe M)
In this set, Evan Turner receives a screen, and then sets a screen for Jrue Holiday. Many guards and wings are not accustomed to defending the roll man on the pick and roll, increasing the likelihood of a defensive breakdown. Meanwhile, Jason Richardson runs off a double, Floppy style screen on the opposite side. Though in this play Tyson Chandler steps into the lane, leaving Richardson open, this action can create space for Holiday in the middle as the big men defending the Richardson double screen will often fear leaving Richardson open for the jump shot. Though most will step in to defend Holiday, even a moment of indecision can create an easy opportunity.
This set seems to fit well with the Pelican’s current roster. Tyreke Evans is able to set an effective screen and will be able to attack a closeout as the defense recovers, while Eric Gordon, with the ability to gain balance and shoot a spot up or attack immediately on the catch, is accustomed to playing off screens.
While the 76ers’ offense was not particularly inventive (Doug Collins’ focus on the mid-range jumpshot is often criticized), a few of their common plays put Holiday in position to take advantage of the athleticism, handle, and jump shot that help make him a high level player.
The Sacramento Kings relied even less on set plays or systemic reads to put Evans in position. A large part, 24.4 percent, of Evans’ plays finished were transition possessions, according to mysynergysports.com. In the halfcourt, most of Evans possessions involved attacking a closeout off the catch or creating from the top of the key, be it in isolation or pick and roll. I watched around 400 of Evans’ 765 field goal attempts from last season. Though I did not track this numerically, the amount of plays that relied on Evans’ creating from the top of the key with no weak side movement was striking (with Mike Malone, a creator of the Warriors’ creative offense taking over, Kings fans can expect more creativity).
This is not to say that the Kings’ offense was entirely devoid of creativity. They had ran some interesting cross screen plays out of Horns sets, and did a good job clearing weakside post area to allow Evans room to run the baseline.
Evans Hand off (via Joe M)
Though the Kings seemed to run this type of play more often for players like Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas, Evans occasionally took advantage of this set. Much like the first set shown for Holiday, this allows Evans to catch the ball on the move. The initial entry to the big man often prevents the defender from getting into proper position to defend the pick and roll as he is in defensive position for an isolation.
For a similar play, the Pelicans would likely have better spacing, with Ryan Anderson in one corner and another wing in the other.
With Holiday, Gordon, and Evans all effective creators, the Pelicans will benefit from a variety of offensive weapons. The new roster will be better equipped to take advantage of a defensive weakness created by offensive creation.