Net Strategy: Pick & Roll Offense

Net Strategy: Pick & Roll Offense

Deron Williams

To improve in the future, the Nets will have to learn from the mistakes of the past. In this weekly series, Nets are Scorching writers Justin DeFeo and Devin Kharpertian take a look at how the Nets performed in different sets on both sides of the ball during the 2010-11 season.

The Nets pick and roll offense has experienced some drastic changes this season. Since Deron Williams came on board, our pick and rolls have primarily had two ballhandlers: Williams and Nets backup point guard Jordan Farmar. In fact, just about 50% of the time our pick and rolls were handled by either Williams or Farmar.

Let’s look at how each attack as the ball handler in pick and roll situations:

Deron Williams

Williams presents a handful of problems for any team defending a Nets pick and roll in which he is handling the ball. He is very methodical when dealing with screens, patiently picking the perfect counter to whichever way the defense guards him. He is an excellent ball handler and by that I mean, his literal dribbling skills. Williams is a whiz with the ball and his confidence when dribbling is high. Because of this, he’s able to keep the man guarding him off balance and not always able to get around the screen cleanly. Despite this ability to do so, I haven’t seen Williams refuse many screens (the way Dwayne Wade might).

He’s perfectly set with going off the screen, reading the defense and reacting. If his man sags off of him and decides to go under the screen, Williams happily obliges with pull-up three’s or pull-up jump shots. Rarely does his man try chasing over the top of a screen, but in the event that it does happen, Williams attacks downhill and engages the help defender. Slower, clumsier defenders are often merciless and left back pedaling. This is especially affective when the Nets get some drag action using the trail person.

Most of the ball screens he receives come directly at the top of the key in the middle of the floor where Williams has the whole court to operate in. He’s big enough to see over the top of traps. He’s also a willing passer and can make every pass at every angle necessary, which can be especially dangerous when the Nets have Brook Lopez as the roll man and shooters such as Anthony Morrow on the court in the corner.

Jordan Farmar

The ball-screen game is an even bigger part of Jordan Farmar’s game as it makes up 31.7% of his offensive plays with the Nets. Farmar is obviously not quite as skilled as Williams is, but he uses and attacks screens slightly differently.

Farmar is definitely more attack-minded when using the ball-screen. As with Williams, he’s more than willing to shoot a three-pointer if his defender decides to go under the screen, and he does this at a decent clip, shooting 35.1%.

He’s also more likely to refuse the screen, using it as decoy to be able to crossover and go by his man. When he’s by his initial man is when I see Farmar get into trouble. He’s not quite explosive enough to get separation and get all the way to the rim to finish and he’s not quite crafty enough to be able to evade help defenders and shoot around or over them (the way a Steve Nash or J.J. Barea would). Because of this, Farmar is often left having to shoot wild floaters, or getting his shot blocked.

Our two most frequented roll men are again, no surprise: Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. Let’s take a deeper look:

Brook Lopez

Lopez as a screener and roll man is nice offense for the Nets. Firstly, Lopez’s wide and solid frame presents a problem for the person guarding the ball to get around. Secondly, Lopez is agile enough to screen from all different angles and to adjust and switch the screening angle when the situation calls for it.

When Lopez rolls hard to the hoop, he immediately presents problems for opposing defenses. He’s a huge target and has soft hands, therefore if a defense is slow or late with their rotations, Lopez can catch nearly anything thrown to him and is strong and athletic enough to finish with dunks.

What separates Lopez from other centers is his ability to hit mid-range jump shots, which also makes his pick and pop game successful, especially with Williams dragging both defenders with him, Lopez will usually just spot up and wait for the return pass to hit a shot he’s proven he can hit. As of now, this seems to be Lopez’s preferred attack, sometimes due to what the defense is giving him, but mostly due to his choice. Most fans will point to this as a criticism of Lopez, which is fair to a point. Lopez settling for long jumpers is sometimes letting the defense off the hook, however, it is a skill that Lopez has and he shouldn’t abandon it. I think moving forward, Lopez can take great strides if he has more of an equal mix between picking and popping and picking and rolling.

Take a look at some clips of Deron and Jordan running the pick and roll game: