Getting Brook Lopez Back In The Post

Posted on: November 9th, 2009 by Sebastian Pruiti Comments

That's Brook Lopez's shot chart from Saturday and while it worked then, I don't see him shooting this well from the outside, and that presents a problem.  I mean if I took away the name from the chart, you would think that the above chart is for Rafer Alston or something like that.  So how does it get fixed?  Well, my solution is to take Brook Lopez out of the pick and roll, and use either Eduardo Najera or Josh Boone to set the picks.

Successful Pick And Roll:

To get an idea of why the pick and roll worked, and why it isn't working now, lets take a look at a successful pick and roll.  This pick and roll is from the first game of the season against Minnesota.  Notice something?  Devin Harris is playing.  When Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are both on the court together, I am all for the pick and roll.  The pick and roll with Devin Harris and Brook Lopez works for a few reasons.  The first, they have a feel for each other.  They have been playing with each other long enough that Brook knows when Devin is going to use the screen, how he is going to come off of it, and stuff like that.  The second reason why it works, is because Devin is a threat offensively.  Just look at this example.  Al Jefferson can't possibly allow Devin Harris an open shot or to get into the lane, so he needs to show on Harris.  When that happens, it allows for a clear lane for Harris to roll into.  It also allows for Brook Lopez to be wide open, and because of that, the pass is easier to make.  The result?  An easy dunk.

Keeping Yi Out Of It

Even with Devin out, the Nets have been hesitant to take Brook Lopez out of the pick and roll.  That is because when Yi is the game, you don't want him setting pick and rolls, the Nets would rather have him shooting from the outside, and he can't do that being involved with the pick and roll.

For this set, Yi is at the top of the key, where you usually find the PF in the spot.  As it gets swung back to Rafer Alston, Brook Lopez is flashing towards the post getting ready to set the pick.

Brook sets a nice ball-screen, and as everyone's attention is focused on the pick and roll, Yi spots up, and he is wide open.

Rafer does a fantastic driving in enough to draw Oberto in.  Look at Yi, spoting up already, ready to step into the pass and shoot all in one motion.

Yi gets the ball and knocks down the shot.  With him in the game, the pick and roll with Brook Lopez can still be successful.  Since he was shooting well before the injury, teams were being forced to stay home on him, and that gives Brook Lopez a nice lane to roll into.

Why It Doesn't Work Now?

I don't have any clips of a poor pick and roll between Rafer and Brook, but there have been plenty of them.  There are a few reasons why the pick and roll doesn't work when they run it.  The first is that they don't really know each other.  That haven't really gotten in a rhythm playing together, and there have been a few times where Brook was open on the roll, and Rafer hasn't hit him.  Another reason is that Rafer Alston doesn't always use the screen, there have been a few times where he has went towards the screen, done his little spin move and drove the lane.  The last reason why the pick and roll with Rafer Alston doesn't work is that he isn't the threat that Devin Harris is.  I would imagine that a team's plan when playing the Nets includes allowing Rafer Alston to shoot jumpers.  The pick and roll gives opposing teams an opportunity to do that.  When Rafer comes off the screen, he is usually left wide open for a moment as both defenders hedge on Brook Lopez rolling.  If Rafer shoots, so what?  That's what teams playing the Nets want.

Also, with Eduardo Najera/Bobby Simmons/Josh Boone playing the 4, the shooting threat on the opposite side isn't there anymore either.  So when teams see the pick and roll starting to be run, they clog the middle.  So what if Najera gets the ball skipped to him?  He isn't a threat from the outside.

So What Now?

So what should the Nets do until Yi and Devin come back?  Take Brook out of the pick and roll game completely.  Use guys like Josh Boone and Eduardo Najera to set the screens to get the Nets into their offense.  Boone played center most of the year, so he knows how to set the screens, and Najera is a tough body not afraid of contact.  Where will Brook be when this is happening?  In the post of course:

Here is a play that the Nets ran Saturday in Boston.  The play starts with Josh Boone setting the pick for Rafer Alston at the top of the key.  Brook is on the weakside block.

As the pick and roll happens, Brook Lopez  executes a post to post flash and seals Perkins.  The pick and roll action takes everyone's attention off of Brook, and that allows him to sneak past Perkins and get terrific position.  Rafer gets him the ball, and Brook Lopez finishes with a nice baby hook.  Not only does the pick and roll draw attention away from Brook Lopez, it occupies defenders, and keeps the double teams away from him long enough for him to execute a post move.  Now do me a favor and take a look at this:

Notice anything different?  The left is Brook catching the ball after a pick and roll with Josh Boone.  The right is from the Washington game, a game that Brook Lopez struggled in.  Brook Lopez is making the catch much deeper in the post.  The final advantage of keeping Brook out of the post is in the transition game, Brook should be getting easier baskets.  Think about it, when the Nets are running a set with Brook setting the screen, he comes down and sets up at the high post.  If he isn't involved in the screen, he can bust it down the court, beat the opposite big man down the court and get solid inside position.  This just makes the game easier for Brook, and anything that makes the game easier for Brook, I am all for it.

Is This Really A Problem?

I know what you are thinking, "Brook Lopez went 10-16 and scored 23 points is this really a problem?"  The thing is, Brook won't be going 10-16 shooting from the outside most of the time.  He had a great night sure, but I would rather see him in the post than floating around on the outside.  Here is a set from the Boston game to illustrate what I am talking about.

Rafer brings up the ball and look where Brook Lopez is standing.  He isn't involved in the set or anything like that, he is just hanging out on the outside.   If he gets too comfortable shooting from the outside, this could happen.  He will find himself floating around the outside.

Rafer loses his dribble and looks for help.  If Brook was in the post, he could probably make an entry pass.  Now though, Brook Lopez has to be a release for Rafer and come to the ball.

I mean, look where Brook catches the ball.  This isn't a part of a set or anything either, look at the shot clock.  The Nets wouldn't start a set with 12 seconds left.  The problem with this is two-fold.  One, he isn't a threat to score from there.  Two, if a shot goes up, how is he going to get a rebound floating on the outside.  You get him back in the post, the defense has to pay attention to him, and if a shot goes up and misses (which happens a lot when the Nets are playing) he can go get a rebound.

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In conclusion, even though Brook had a great game against Boston, he needs to get into the post more.  I am looking towards the future, and it only makes sense to get him back into the post.  Yes, the fact that he is developing a nice touch from the outside is great, just adds another dimension to his game, but 10 shots outside 15 feet...that's way too much.