Things Done Changed: Why The Nets Are Better Under P.J. Carlesimo

Kings Nets Basketball
P.J. Carlesimo (AP)

2. Brook Lopez ballscreening.

See that above? That’s every field goal attempt from Brook Lopez in pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop situations from the last three games. Try counting the misses. Actually, don’t. There aren’t any. (Note: there’s no music so you can pick your own soundtrack. My suggestion is the Superman theme.)

Once Avery Johnson departed the team and P.J. Carlesimo took over, it was like a light switch turned on in Brook Lopez’s brain: he dominated the next two weak opponents and started a tear, averaging 24.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes on 55% shooting, getting to the line nearly 8 times per game and converting at an 83% clip. Lopez is now fifth in the league in player efficiency rating.

One of the bigger differences in how Johnson & Carlesimo utilize Lopez is in the pick-and-roll. In 22 games under Avery Johnson, Lopez finished just 33 pick-and-roll/pop plays, or 1.5 per game, shooting 46%. But in 13 games under Carlesimo, Lopez has finished 48 pick-and-roll/pop plays — nearly four per game — and shot 61% from the field on those plays. The pick-and-read (as I like to call it) is such an effective weapon with Lopez as the big, because he’s able to either get to the rim and put up quick hook shots & layups, space the floor with his jumper out to 18-20 feet, or abuse mismatches to get easy, clean looks.

Lopez’s added use in pick-and-roll plays spaces the floor for everyone: with an effective screen, Deron Williams (usually the guard Lopez screens for) can either look to get an open shot or draw fouls from opposing bigs, or if the defense collapses, find Joe Johnson on the wings to feast on threes.

Next: A smarter Deron Williams