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Beneath the Screen: The Passing Bigman
One thing I’ve noticed more and more in the Hornet’s game plan is the effort to get Anthony Davis looks on the blow block under the basket. I looked at the film to see what he’s doing to get open. And it turns out it’s not that hard.
No matter how the play is designed, Davis more or less loafs around on the baseline. He looks like he’s standing there taking a play off. Once his defender looks away he just cuts towards the basket, gets an easy pass and scores.
Other times it’s slightly more difficult.
As we’ve mentioned before the Hornets rely heavily on the pick and roll. When the roll man receives the ball, the defense is forced to make a choice. Rotate help over, potentially leaving a man uncovered, or risk playing him one on one.
While they’ve struggled at times with the pick and roll, the roll man has scored 1.07 points per play this season which ranks 6th in the league. Because of that efficiency, most teams are forced to collapse into the lane. The Hornets use this to their advantage–especially with Robin Lopez. To the Madistrator!
The play starts with Lopez setting the screen for Vasquez. Davis is staying baseline just wandering around.
Vasquez passes the ball to Lopez as he rolls to the basket. Because of how well the roll man scores for the Hornets the defense brings over a help defender which frees up Davis for an easy pass.
Davis receives the pass and goes up for a wide open dunk.
It looks so easy! And the Hornets run variations on this constantly. But there are times when the defense plays the roll man better. So what happens then?
It’s a similar setup to the one before with Lopez setting the screen for Vasquez. Keep an eye on Anderson up top.
After Lopez gets the pass the defense collapses on him. Because of their positioning it takes away the pass to Aminu.
However Anderson is wide open and Lopez passes to him for a 3 which he makes.
Lopez’s passing ability has been a very underrated part of his game this season. After totaling all of 20 assists in 64 games this season, Lopez has put up almost double so far with 39 in just 46 games. He’s not in elite territory but Lopez currently ranks 15th in assists for centers.
In a slower paced offense having a passing bigman is huge since it forces the defense to react and rotate which creates open looks for teammates. With a fully healthy team, Lopez’s assist numbers should only increase.
Beneath the Screen is a reoccurring series throughout the season run on Fridays. See past editions here.