Beneath the Screen: Give Me Some Space

Published: March 1, 2013

Good to see you all again! I’m back in the land of video after having trouble with my internet connection for the past few weeks. And I’m here to talk about Anthony Davis.

As you may have seen/heard Davis has jumped to the top of David Thorpe’s Rookie Watch list. There are multiple reasons why: a PER above 20, a True Shooting % and rebounding rate above the league average for forwards. But most importantly as the season has gone on, the Hornets have looked much better with him on the court–especially on offense.

As I watched film over the past two days to get a better understanding of how Davis contributes to the offense, his understanding of court spacing is very impressive.

Court spacing is vitally important to an offense. You never wants players to be so close to each other that it only takes one defender to guard both of them. You never want to see a player drive into the lane only to run into extra defenders because a teammates was just standing under the basket.

Let’s take a look at how Davis spaces the court. To the Madistrator!


As the play starts, Davis is fairly far away from the basket for a bigman, playing just inside the 3-point line.


After Aminu passes to Lopez in the low block, Davis creeps lower but still maintains his positioning in relation the man with the ball. This allows Aminu the space to cut, and hopefully receive a pass and score an easy layup or dunk. Had Davis been closer to the paint, his defender would have a simple time sealing off the cut by Aminu.


As Lopez posts up and attempts his hook shot, Davis actually goes out of bounds. At first it seems a little odd but it really makes this play work for a few reasons. 1) His defender actually losses track of him. If Davis cuts in front of his defender then it’s easier to play defense on him and box him out. 2) With his defender between him and the basket, it would be very tough for Davis to get inside position and have a better chance at grabbing a rebound. By looping around out of bounds and coming in from under the basket it allows Davis to do this…


Throw down the tip in.

Let’s take a look at another example.


The play starts off with an inverted set with the bigmen up top instead of down low. Vasquez passes the  ball to Lopez then cuts down and sets a screen for Aminu to cut to the rim. Davis is standing at the free throw line. Because he has the ability to shoot from that range, his defender is forced to stick to him which gives room for Aminu to cut just like in the previous example.


As Aminu comes off his cut, he comes over and sets a screen on Davis’ defender. Davis makes a quick move to the right and then V-cuts back to the left to where Lopez is standing. Just to make sure the shot is wide open, Lopez comes down and screens off any pursuit of Davis.


And this is why Davis is left which such a wide open jumper which he sinks.

So what’s so special about his court positioning on this play? It’s because Davis has a very strong understanding of why he is in a certain spot on the floor. Davis stands still on the play for over 6 seconds. That’d normally drive me crazy. Davis (and Monty as well) know that his mid range shot will create space for others.

But more importantly the only way to create this look is to have Davis make a quick and short curl to the top. If Davis is standing baseline and the Hornets run a pindown screen for him on the low block, that’s a fairly long run for him to make. This allows the defense to react.  But by placing Davis on the free throw line all he needs to do is make a short cut for a wide open look. It’s very simple yet effective.

So when the Hornets take the court tonight, keep an eye on where Davis starts the play. It could be the key to whether the Hornets score or not.

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


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