Hornets’ Offense

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Published: December 31, 2008

This quote comes from the Wizards interim coach after last night’s game (hat tip):

“It’s a well-constructed team and concept,” Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. “They have Chris Paul with the ball and he has the best vision in the league, and then you’ve got some big guys who can catch around the basket so they roll, and then they’ve got guys who space you out and can hit the three, so you end up picking your poison and you end up making some very difficult choices.”

Tapscott’s just an interim coach and it’s a single quote taken out of context after his team got beat, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into it.  But there has been plenty of complaining this year by Hornets fans/bloggers about how our offense lacks, and it’s nice to see a third-party present the counter-argument.

The Hornets have the best point guard in basketball.  And unlike the previous best point guard in basketball, Mr. Nash, CP3 isn’t just a fast-break PG but is as effective (if not more so) in a half-court set.  That’s why Paul goes out of his way to keep the pace of games slow.

And if you’re going to design an offense around world’s greatest point guard (W’sGPG) Chris Paul, you want him to have the ball in his hands as much as possible.  The Hornets offense allows precisely that, with play 1/1a.  Chris Paul either dribbles out top (1) or swings around to catch the ball on the wing (1a), a screener gets him some space, then CP3 breaks down the defense and ultimately either takes a short runner, alleyoops to Chandler, finds an open shooter for three, or finds DWest for an 18-footer.  There might be a little movement in there by other players, but that’s the gist of it.  With the exception of the occasional DWest/Posey postup, 1/1a is our entire offense.

And maybe that’s a good thing.  A more developed offense, (triangle-style), would result in other players trying to create shots for teammates or read the defense and make the right pass.  But when you have the W’sGPG, why would you want to take these decisions away from him?  I trust CP3 to find the open shooter much more than I trust Chandler or West (or, god forbid, DB).  Chris Paul has also proven that no defender in the league can keep him from penetrating, so it’s not like teams eventually adjust to our overreliance on Paul.

The offense falls apart without Paul on the floor, which is a problem.  And apart from the brilliance of Chris Paul, it’s often ugly to watch.  But it’s effective, and it’s gotten us the second-best record in the West.  Perhaps it’s time to relax and accept the fact that we’re at the mercy of the W’sGPG.  We’ll go exactly as far as he takes us.  I’m okay with that.

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