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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pick and Roll

In today's post, we will look at some of the various pick and roll sets that the Spurs use.

In this clip, Tony Parker pushes the ball up to the left side wing.  Before the defense can set, DeJuan Blair sets a screen on the ball.  The Spurs two shooters space the floor on the weak-side and Duncan fills the opposite block.  The defenders loose track of their assigned man in transition and mistakenly leave Richard Jefferson wide open for three.

In this clip, the Spurs simply settle into a spread pick and roll with the ball handler up top, a shooter in each corner, and another shooter at the weak-side wing.  The post man Tiago Splitter comes up from the block to set a screen for Parker.  The defense shows hard on Parker but can not stop him from turning the corner.  He gets such deep penetration that the defender covering the weak-side corner must help.  The defender assigned to the weak-side wing rotates over, leaving Matt Bonner open for three.

In this clip, the shooting big Matt Bonner is the first down the floor, so he fills the post position.  With the non-shooting Duncan as trailer, he signals Bonner to vacate the post in preparation for the pick and roll. Bonner carefully times his move to spot up to match the timing of Duncan's screen.  After multiple ball screens, Duncan's defender losses containment positioning and the rest of the Clippers stand by and watch Parker dart through the lane for the layup.

In this clip we see the Spurs run a "staggered screen" (a parallel double screen on the ball):

Out of transition, Bonner crosses the floor to act as the first screener of a staggered screen that will be set by Bonner and Duncan.  Bonner pops to the wing and Duncan rolls to the basket.  Duncan's defender shows hard on Parker to allow Parker's defender back to the ball but no one rotates over to Duncan.  With Marc Gasol scrambling to return to Duncan, Parker throws a nice bounce pass to Duncan who finishes with an and one.

Another staggered pick and roll with Bonner popping after the first screen.  The defense chooses soft coverage on both screens and Tiago Splitter rolls hard to the basket.  The threat of a Matt Bonner three scares his defender off helping as Manu finds Splitter in stride for the easy dunk.

This time the Spurs initially show a standard spread pick and roll.  Duncan, instead of screening the ball, screens for Bonner to begin a staggered screen.  The action results in three Clipper defenders running into each other.  As Duncan rolls, he seals Bonner's defender.  Upon receiving the pass, Bonner quickly shot fakes to force a rotation from the corner leaving Danny Green wide open to for the catch and shoot three.

Next we will see the Spurs run a "twist" action:

This clip begins with the two Spurs bigs at the elbows.  Instead of a staggered pick and roll, the first big independently sets a screen, quickly followed by the other big's screen.  As Blair moves to screen, his defender goes jumps out to hedge, so Blair slips to the basket.  Parker initially heads towards Duncan, prompting Duncan's defender to jump out as well.  Parker backs up and awaits another screen from Duncan.  Tony dribbles Steven Nash right into Duncan, prompting Duncan's man to play soft coverage.  Parker uses a quick in and out move to get space from Marcin Gortat and knocks down the pull up jumper.

Another twist action except the first screen is from a popping Matt Bonner.  The Jazz bigs stick with the Spurs bigs through each screen and Parker's defender chooses to go under.  A normal spread pick and roll would have forced a long 18 foot jumper if Parker's man choose to go under.  The twist action forces Parker's man to go under two separate screens - all the way down to the free throw line area.  By the time the screens clear, Parker has a mountain of space to attack before his defender can return.  Parker easily gets to his spot at the elbow and knocks down the pull up jumper.

We see another action where both Spurs big set their own screen:

This time, the trailing Matt Bonner goes down to screen for the post man Boris Diaw.  As Diaw comes off, the Suns bigs switch.  Diaw sets the screen for Gary Neal and the Suns show hard and recover.  In a normal pick and roll action, Bonner would simply duck in on the pick and roll.  Indeed, Bonner ducks in, lulling his defender who is ready to help on the rolling Diaw.  Once Diaw is clear, Bonner quickly runs out to set another ball screen.  Although Bonner isn't the fastest player, the initial decoy pick and roll was enough to slow his defender down.  By the time Bonner reaches Neal, Robin Lopez has scrambled out too far to properly contain Neal's drive.  Diaw ducks in and as Bonner pops, he draws Danny Green's defender.  With no Suns left to rotate over, Green is left open for a corner three.  Although he misses the shot, he draws three close out defenders, allowing Kawhi Leonard to roam in and clean up the miss.

Again we see the trailer coming down, but Bonner sends the post to the opposite block instead of screening for him.  The ball is passed ahead to the strong-side wing Gary Neal and Parker cuts to the weak-side corner after the pass.  Bonner motions Splitter to set the screen and times his fade to the strong-side corner with the pick and roll.  The Nets hedge on the pick and roll but the timing of the off ball actions combined with the timing of the screen forces the help to come from the strong-side corner.  The help is late to rotate over and Neal finds Splitter for an easy dunk.

In the last post, we saw how the Spurs can flow from their regular offense into a pick and roll.  Here we see a pick and roll come after a loop setup:

After the loop, Parker settles into the right side corner and Duncan comes up to set the screen.  The Suns lazily tip off a hedge so Duncan slips.  All three help defenders watch Duncan and no one rotates over to the wide open Blair.  As Duncan passes to DeJuan, the three Suns help defenders converge on Blair leaving him the choice between a wide open James Anderson or wide open Tony Parker.

In this clip, we see Parker dribble toward the strong-side wing.  Instead of looping, the strong-side wing James Anderson cuts along the baseline towards a weak-side double screen.  His defender (Deron Williams) initially stays behind, so both Nets defenders guarding the side pick and roll feel comfortable sticking with Parker.  But the weak-side double action recaptures Williams' attention and no one is left to cover the rolling Tiago Splitter.  Unfortunately, Splitter can't convert on the reverse layup.

What makes the Spurs offense so difficult to guard is the player's versatility to naturally flow from a motion offense to a pick and roll.  In this clip, the Spurs flow from a spread pick and roll into a post up for Tiago Splitter:

On the post entry pass, Matt Bonner cuts to the opposite corner.  Meanwhile, Ginobili sets a back pick for Gary Neal.  Manu sees his defender jump out to deny Neal, and Ginobili also knows the lane will be cleared after Bonner cuts through.  Ginobili quickly digests the situation and cuts to the basket.  Splitter finds Ginobili in stride and the defense has no choice but to foul to prevent the easy dunk.


  1. The Spurs two shooters space the floor on the weak-side and Duncan fills the opposite block. The defenders loose track of their assigned man in transition and mistakenly leave Richard Jefferson wide open for three.
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