Beneath the Screen: Ryan Anderson and the Deep Ball

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Published: November 30, 2012
Screen

Ryan Anderson has been on fire from 3-point range over the last handful of games. It’s been the one real bright spot for the Hornets (along with the victory over the Clippers). So that means two things: 1) We need to think of a good nickname for him–David Wesley was throwing out Flamethrower the other night. 2) I can’t think of a better thing to look at than how the Hornets are creating these open looks.

But, before we get into the specific type of plays, Anderson’s 3-point shot needs to be talked about.

It’s good. Like, really, really good. He has a shockingly quick release. This allows him to get his shot off with very little separation from a defender. All he needs is half a step and Anderson has all the space he needs for a good 3-point attempt. Anderson also keeps his feet square to the basket on nearly all of his shot attempts. It’s the reason he is such a strong catch and shoot player. Unlike Marco Belinelli who always seemed awkward when catching the ball, Anderson displays perfect form. Like I said, he has a really good shot.

The Hornets take advantage his strong shooting by using very simple sets that play to Anderson’s strength. They run V-cuts for him, cross court cuts, pick and pops, as the outlet pass on the pick and roll, pin downs, cross screens. I could keep going but instead let’s bring up the Madistrator and look few.

The V-cut

The V-cut is very simple. The player moves in one direction then cuts back to the left or right of where they originally started. The idea is to create space for the player by cutting in the opposite direction of the defensive player’s movement.

The Hornets use the V-cut often with Anderson because it creates the amount of space he needs for a good look from deep. Here Anderson simply walks towards the basket but cuts back to the top of the 3-point line.

Look at how much space Anderson has.

The Pick and Roll Outlet

Robin Lopez sets a screen for Roger Mason on the pick and roll. As Mason dribbles to the right, Lopez is going to roll to the basket. Both Mason’s defender goes above the screen to stay on him, and Lopez’ defender also moves to cover Mason and cut off a drive to the hoop.

This leaves Lopez open around the free throw line. Anderson’s defender slides to play help defense so he can take away an easy pass and dunk. This frees up Anderson to cut and provide an outlet pass for Mason. In the image above, no one is covering Anderson.

And it leads to a wide open catch and soot for Anderson.

The Pin Down

A pin down is where a screen is set for a player close to the basket. This allows them to pop out on the perimeter. Given the two examples we’ve looked at thus far, I think you all know this might work well for the Hornets.

Lopez is going to come down and set a screen on Anderson’s defender.

Lopez slows down Anderson’s defender enough to create separation for Anderson to receive the pass and take a wide open 3-point shot.

The Pick and Pop

This was one of the staples of Monty’s offense in his first year with Chris Paul and David West. Just substitute Anderson in for West and the shot from 3-point range.

Anderson sets the pick for Vasquez.

Both defenders follow the ball handler while Anderson pops back behind the 3-point line for an open shot.

While Anderson’s been on fire from deep, expect him to cool off some. The Hornets will still create open looks for him, but at times the defense against them has been horrible. In the example above, there is no reason to double team Vasquez and leave Anderson, a very good shooter, open for 3.

One of the reasons for this is that Anderson is a frontcourt player instead of a guard. Most of the players who defend him are not used to guarding on the perimeter. It’s one of the reasons players tend to sag off Anderson or stick with the ball handler on a pick and pop. As teams watch film of Anderson expect his defenders to stay closer to him. Because of his quick release he’ll still find his shot, it’ll just be slightly tougher.

It’s also worth noting that most of Anderson’s 3’s have come from the top of the arc. I wrote previously that I thought Anderson would help, from deep, more from the corner than anywhere else. But because of how the Hornets are using him on offense, only 18% of his 3-point attempts are corner 3’s compared to 26.5% from last season. Anderson is still a deadly corner 3 shooter so as teams clamp down on him, expect the Hornets to try and get him open looks there.

Beneath the Screen is a reoccurring series throughout the season run on Fridays. See past editions here.

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