By: Lucas Shapiro / HoopDirt.com Contributor
Welcome to the first edition of HoopDirt.com’s new feature: The Tuesday Starting Five. You can now get a look at the top sets from the past week in the NBA and college basketball (and even high school basketball if high school coaches are looking to make submissions).
This week was a great week to start off this column. While high-quality college basketball games were sparse with schools finishing up finals and getting the holidays off, the NBA was jam-packed with action on Christmas Day. Thus this week’s post will be a little NBA-heavy, but it should balance out during most weeks.
The Starting Lineup:
New Orleans Pelicans – Triangle Pinch Post
This was an ugly game and particularly ugly for the New Orleans Pelicans. After getting punched in the mouth by the Miami Heat from a 7-0 run, Alvin Gentry came out of the timeout with two sets for his star, Anthony Davis. The one above was just simple Triangle offense using the pinch post. Davis simply snuck back behind Asik on the opposite side of the pinch post for a pin-down screen and popped out for a mid-range jumper. Davis is shooting 55.6% from the floor from this spot, according to Synergy Sports. It is important when a team is down and looking to gain back momentum to get an easy basket. Drawing up a play for your best player in spots where they are comfortable is the best way to do that.
Golden State Warriors – Lineup BLOB
I’m not sure whether it was the Warriors execution or the Cavaliers defense (or lackthereof) that made this such a jaw-dropping play. Starting off with Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green at the free-throw line and Shaun Livingston in the weakside corner. Thompson went off the Iguodala screen to the strongside while Green and Livingston simply cut to the hoop. Curry hit Green for the simple wide open layup.
It is pretty amazing that this wasn’t well defended but the alignment makes it particularly tough. When you have three players lined up on the free-throw line, it puts the defense in a vulnerable position because it is hard to see the ball and the player they are guarding. What is amazing about the Cavalier’s defense on this particular play is that Livingston could have scored an easy layup as well. Love should have played closer to the hoop considering that Livingston has only hit one three-pointer all season. This would have at least challenged the pass in the paint of Green’s layup.
Chicago Bulls – Stagger Lob
Fred Hoiberg is a big fan of lob plays. In this play Gasol comes off of Mirotic’s back screen at the elbow, which turns into a stagger screen for Butler after Mirotic re-screens. Rose feeds it to Gasol while Butler cuts to the hoop. Gasol throws a simple lob pass to Butler.
If you aren’t satisfied with just one lob play, here is another one Hoiberg drew up for Butler earlier in the season. Instead of the stagger on the wing, the Bulls do more of a weave action but end up with the same result: a high percentage shot.
Houston Rockets – Loop Iverson SLOB
This set embodies how NBA teams do so well with spacing. Lawson loops up to get the ball. After, Terry does an Iverson cut to the weak side. Capela cross screens for Brewer, which puts both wings spread out and then goes to screen ball-screen for Lawson. This allows for a Lawson and Capela screen and roll with the floor spaced. This is another great example of a team putting their players in a position to do what they do best. Lawson goes downhill for an easy take to the hoop.
Northern Iowa – Inbounder Handoff BLOB
This may have just been a read from the Northern Iowa players considering that they have not run this play this season. It was a simple pass to the corner followed by a handoff to the inbounder while the other three players play safety valves. What is particularly brilliant is that one player acts as a safety valve but dives to the hoop for the offensive rebound.
It is simple yet effective plays like this that have allowed a team like Northern Iowa to have two top-5 wins this season. They know how to capitalize on baseline out-of-bounds opportunities as they are ranked second in the nation in baseline out-of-bounds efficiency (1.215 points per possession according to Synergy Sports).