Beneath the Screen: In Need of Innovation

Published: December 14, 2012

It’s no secret that the Hornets’ offense has been putrid at times. Rob Mahoney writing at’s Point Forward summed up the Hornets’ struggles pretty accurately saying, “Coach Monty Williams has his team running its pet play actions well, but executing simple sets reliably shouldn’t soon be confused with resilient offense. At the moment, the Hornets’ arsenal is dependable — it just isn’t particularly adaptable.” Now that Anthony Davis is back in the lineup, I decided to take a look at how he can impact the Hornets’ play.

While going through the game film I looked for plays involving Davis that were out of the ordinary offensive sets or at least interesting variations of regular sets. There were also a few stats which jumped as well.

For Monty to try and kickstart the offense, his best use of Davis would be having him cut to the basket. For the season Davis is being used on cuts 16.7% of the time. Of those plays Davis averages 1.37 points per play compared to the team average of 1.20 ppp. Davis shoots 64.3% in those situations which is well above his season average of 48.9%. He also gets fouled 16% of the time while only turning the ball of 5.3% in cut situations. To put that in perspective Aminu commits a turnover 20% of the time.

As for the specific plays…to the Madistrator!


The play were going to look at is a minor variation on the pick and roll which essentially creates two roll men. Take a look at the positioning of the highlighted players above. Vasquez and Lopez are in standard positions to start the Hornets set. Davis on the other hand is hanging out well behind the 3-point line which is not his normal spot on the court.


As Lopez comes up and sets the screen which starts the pick and roll, Davis is still in the same spot. Considering he doesn’t exactly have 3-point range, at first it seems like all this does is give Vasquez a very poor outlet pass as he drives.


Vasquez beats both his and Lopez’ defender and Lopez rolls to the basket. Davis cuts on the opposite side of Vasquez creating another roll man in this set. Davis’ defender is now stuck on an island and forced to pick one of 3 people to defend.


Vasquez passes to Davis who finishes with a made jumper and the foul.

The next play were going to look at is a pindown screen which utilizes lots of movement to create space for Davis as he cuts along the baseline.


Davis starts the play around the free throw line.


Vasquez passes to Davis and then cuts down to the baseline.


Davis immediately hands the ball off to the other guard. He then rolls to the corner and cuts along the baseline.


Vasquez continues his cut and sets a pick right at the end of the paint for Davis.


Vasquez’ screen free up space for Davis to receive an easy pass from the guard. This play is a reverse of what the Hornets often run for Anderson to get him open for 3.

I’m a huge Monty fan but with how the offense has performed recently I’d like to see him mix up the offense. Unfortunately the Hornets just don’t have the talent to make wholesale changes, but, as we can see from the pick and double roll play above, adding a small wrinkle or two (or just getting the team’s best bigman back) can really help. Hopefully we see different sets from the Hornets tonight.

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


  1. 504ever

    December 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I think the basic problem is talent. The Hornets have very few players with the ability to break down a defense off of the dribble or with deadly 3 pt shooting. So, if Anderson’s shot isn’t falling, they are basically left with running their sets, and they run them with too many average and below average players. The only other way the Hornets score easily is in transition after a turnover, but we don’t force enough turnovers in the open court to have run out baskets.

    Just to look at Davis; you can’t roll him to the basket every play. Defenses will catch on. He needs a complimentary skill (outside shooting or passing) to keep defenses honest, the way Anderson can score inside and out.

    Adding a healthy Eric Gordon, if it ever happens, would help the offense a lot because he can score by shooting from the outside and driving to the basket. So he would join Anderson as a legitimate threat to score from anywhere. Those two playing together could open the floor up for others: Lopez with his amazing true shooting percentage, Vasquez with his long frame and high launch point for perimeter shooting or driving shots, and maybe even some dunks by Aminu on cuts to the basket. (The reserves are on their own still.)

    • Jake Madison

      December 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

      It certainly does come down to talent. Gerry V pointed out that the Hornets have a lot of players with similar skill sets which makes it hard to really vary the offense.

      That said, at times the Hornets seem stubborn by running the same not-working sets. At a certain point I think you just have to try something new to see if it works. Worst case is you’re in the same position you started in. It’s one of the reasons Monty changed his starting lineup.

      The changes don’t need to be drastic. I’m not saying run the triangle or anything like that. Little plays like the above are ways to inject some life into an otherwise stagnant-at-times offense.

      If you’re at a bar using the same pickup line and most of the ladies have shot you down, shouldn’t you at least try another line on the rest to see if it works? Or at least use an accent with the original line?

      • 504ever

        December 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        Either that, or you are butt-ugly and no pick-up line can overcome that.

      • okithor

        December 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm

        Lol…504ever! Great comment!

  2. GerryV

    December 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Run all the sets and variety you want,if you lack players that can “break off plays” and lack “jump shooting skils” alerting plays won’t help you…the Hornets JUMP SHOOT THE BALL ( 2 pt jumpers at a 32.6% clip.)

    Don’t confuse lack of scoring abilty vs ‘offense needs variety’….Horents need to upgrade some skills sets……simplicity can win for you …quicks and scoring skills is what matters..thats when the fun begins.

  3. GerryV

    December 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

    If a play gets you open and the shot is missed does that make it a bad offensive set? No…watching game tape opens up alot of doors.

    • Jake Madison

      December 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

      I agree with all your points. But I don’t think the Hornets problems are just because they miss wide open 2’s. The poor shooting is part of it, but the team isn’t getting good looks like that on a lot of possessions.

      As a coach, I think you need to put your players in the best position to succeed. If you’re running sets that get players open looks from spots they are bad at it’s not a bad set, but you could also do better.

      With the lack of scoring ability you need to do something that makes use of what you have. Otherwise you have a square peg in a round hole situation.

      • GerryV

        December 15, 2012 at 7:02 am

        Love your passion for the game! ( man hug)….the key point i was making is this…”who can break off plays?” bailing out of a set and creating is a must have in this league…the better teams will take you out of your sets…the “random moments” are what separate you……..upgrade the skill set and even a dull looking play looks good…like a lil touch of makeup to make a ladies eyes come to life…..can you dig it? LOL.

  4. Ryan Schwan

    December 14, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I love these posts, Jake.

  5. Ken

    December 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    One advantage the Hornets do have over most of its opponents is youth yet the Hornets never run fastbreaks. Why not run more often? Hornets never get easy baskets. I can’t remember the last easy basket the Hornets have gotten. Hornets run strictly a half court offense even though they lack talented offensive players and have only one consistent 3 point threat to spread the floor. A good coach adapts his system to the talent (or lack thereof) on the team and it is time for the Hornets’ coaches to be more creative in their offense.

  6. okithor

    December 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Man, these post are great for basketball junkies. I love the stats breakdown to go along with the example sets. Is it possible to get a video at the end to show the real time execution of the set?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.