Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just the briefest collection of thoughts about the pick and roll ...

Which would be a great name for a rap duo.

Spoiler Alert:  If you're a Knicks fan you're not going to like this.

The pick and roll:  One guy is dribbling the ball and his teammate sets a screen.  At which point, all sorts of scenarios ensue, depending on how the defense reacts:  For starters, the guy with the ball can just drive to the basket.  Or the guy setting the pick can, once he's done that, roll to the basket and receive a pass from the first guy.  That's why it's called the pick and roll.  Or, instead of rolling, he can also step back, receive the ball and shoot it.  Likewise the original ball handler can take the jumper as well.  Plus some other stuff, possibly involving a third teammate, that we don't have time to go into here.

It's like the blues -- simple and complicated at the same time.

As is so often the case in life, the trick in multi-variable situations is to try to eliminate one of the variables and let the chips fall where they may when the other thing happens.  As in:  "If that guy wants to take 18 foot jump shots, we'll give them to him all day long.  But we'll be damned if we're going to let him roll unimpeded to the basket."

All of which leads me to the unpleasant statistic of the day:  The Knicks, in their majesty, managed to rank dead last in points allowed per possession on plays finished by both the guy with the ball and the guy setting the screen.  (Truth in blogging:  I grabbed both the stat and a good portion of the sentence from Grantland.com)  The moral being that it's okay (although not great, obviously) to be last in the NBA in one of those variables, but if you are then you should definitely be doing the tighten-up on the other one.  Being last at both simply means your defense is a shambles.  Incapable of defending one of the most common plays in basketball.  Which is ironic, given that Mike Woodson was supposed to be a defensive coach.

Anyway, the question, now that Woodson is gone and a new coach is on the way, is do we want to be like these guys ...

 Or do we want to be like these guys ...

For those of you not completely in the loop, they are the 73 Knicks (with Phil Jackson in the upper left) and (I think) the 91 Bulls (with Phil Jackson at top, center).

If we want to be like the Knicks then it's time to let Carmelo Anthony go and just start building from the ground up.  If we want to be like the Bulls we have to find an adequate Scottie Pippin analog.  Which, given the givens, is virtually impossible.  It also presupposes that Carmelo is the Jordan analog, which is its own leap of faith.

Offensive wizardry aside (and the guy is really something with the ball -- way better than I thought he would be), I still find Anthony to be the least impressive super-star in basketball.

I vote 73 Knicks.

Brief personal aside:  I'm sad to see Woodson go, even though it's time.  He comported himself well and I feel bad that he's getting the short end of the stick.  It should also be said, given the personnel, that Winston Churchill himself (a defensive wizard in his own right) probably couldn't turn the current Knick roster into a decent defensive team.

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