Nets free Brook Lopez with cut screen

If the last two games gave us any indication, its clear that at the end of close games, the Nets are comfortable running their offense through Brook Lopez.

In Wednesday night’s 93-90 win over the Detroit Pistons, it was Lopez who got the ball on the last two crucial possessions. In Lopez’s final bucket, the Nets ran a basic post up play for the center, letting him isolate against Greg Monroe. Lopez backed his way in towards the hoop and scored with relative ease.

As easy is that hoop looked, the Nets showed on the possession before that while they may want to run their offense through Brook, there are other creative ways to get him the ball aside from just straight post ups.

Let’s take a look.

As you can see in the above image, the set begins with Deron entering the ball to Joe Johnson on the wing, then Deron rubs off of a Gerald Wallace back screen to get enough space to set up shop in the right mid-post area.

On Williams’ catch, both block areas are clear for Williams to go to work in the post. This is purposeful as the play is designed to look and feel like an isolation for him. See below.

But, Deron’s post-up is merely a clever bit of misdirection (Hat tip to Zach Lowe of Grantland for initially sniffing out this play design. Peep number eight towards the bottom).

Notice above, as Williams begins his dribble to back down Bynum, the Pistons are already sending help. The nearest Piston defender is Jonas Jerebko and even after one dribble he’s almost lost sight entirely of his man, Gerald Wallace. As a result, Greg Monroe, who is guarding Brook Lopez, is forced to rotate towards the paint to help cover Jerebko.

As you’ll see in the below image, the Nets use this rotation against the Pistons. As Monroe is rotating down, Gerald Wallace is beginning what is called a cut-screen (a screen disguised as a cut). Wallace cuts towards the hoop, but more importantly, he cuts directly in front of the path of Lopez’s defender Monroe. Lopez’s job then is to cut directly off of Wallace’s left hip. Here’s the start of that action:

And here’s the end result, which is Lopez getting a catch moving downhill towards the rim with essentially both of the Pistons interior defenders occupied:

As you can see, running the offense through Lopez can happen in a number of different shapes and forms. This creative entry takes advantage of Lopez’s ability as a diver and his ability to finish shots on the move.

Watch the play live:


  1. I love those Lopez hard-cuts to the hoop when either Deron, Joe, or Gerald is posting up because all three are such good passers and Lopez has the touch and the height to finish basically anything.

    I’ve always felt they’ve done a nice job with getting Brook good looks, now the thing they need to work in I’d getting Joe and Deron some better looks.

    I always notice that they always either run some pointless baseline screens to get Joe or Deron the ball on the wing. Unfortunately they don’t do anything after that. The other thing they run for Joe and Deron is that play where Joe sets a screen for Deron (the ball handler) in the wing as they try and force DWills man to switch onto Joe creating a good mismatch. The only issue is that against the Pistons, Joe was being guarded by Brandon Knight. He maybe had 4-5 inches on him, yet they ran a Joe post-up maybe three whole times in the first half and Joe only scored like 4 points.

    They have 3 guys that are virtually unguardable yet they allow guys like Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace to be taking shots. When my 6’7″ SG has a matchup like the one against the Pistons, he better abuse him in the post until DET responds. The same goes for Dwill vs. Steve Nash, yet neither guy took advantage. Lack of aggression.

    1. The Nets waste an astonishing amount of time running screens to get JJ and Dwill the ball on the perimeter. It’s such a massive waste of time. Dwill is best utilized in plays that force him to attack the paint and either shoot a short shot or pass to a rolling big man. No reason to run a play where he curls and hoists up an instant three. He’s not Sasha Vujacic.

      JJ, similarly, seems to benefit little from this approach. He is clearly not a catch and shoot player and seems to shoot better when he is dribbling the ball. His rhythm is always established off the dribble and in forcing the defense to make a decision and then reacting.

      One good thing about PJC is that he seems to be able to run more plays like the one diagrammed here to get Brook the ball down low. Johnson was not able to consistently run plays that got Brook looks in beneficial spots.

      1. Slowest pace in the league.

        They do waste A LOT of time by doing some crazy and dramatic screening action just to get a guy a simple post-up or a dump off pass on the wing.

  2. Great breakdown Justin. Wish it didn’t take 14 seconds to set up such a simple play. Very informative though. Thanks.