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.


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