Everyone needs to switch screens

That’s been one of the big lessons in the NBA this year. Sure, Utah got a lot of mileage out of trying to guide ball handlers to Rudy Gobert all year but that’s reaching it’s limits as a strategy against the three-point hunting Houston Rockets. And yes, a few teams won round one series by trapping ball handlers, but that tactic is going to dry up in the second round against the offenses that survived in round one.

In an era where stopping the three point shot is everything, you have to be able to switch and deny open looks to shooters.

Similarly, in football you can’t allow a team to just kill you with a bad matchup in the passing game. Teams need to become more matchup resilient, which is one of many reasons for the increase in nickel and dime packages. Read more about it at Football Study Hall.

10 Comments

  1. I have a couple questions
    1) As an offense I think you said they usually attack the middle of the field where weaker pass coverage players are (linebacker). How do offenses weigh the benefit if attacking backers in the middle of the field where there is also more likely to be more defenders in that area vs. the sideline?

    2) If you have a star player like Lebron who can do lots of things at a high level but like any player does certain things better than others. Should you try and have him focus on what he does absolutely the best or use his other high level (but weaker) skills to compensate for a team deficiency? For example if the Cavs were poor at rebounding, but good at scoring. Should the Cavs divert his energy away from scoring in order to help the rebounding or keep him focused on his scoring (superior skill to rebounding)?

    Another scenerio for a football for a wide reciever like Julio Jones. He may be the fastest, best route runner, best run after catch, and have the best hands on the team. So lets say they have decent recievers but they all are slow and bad after the catch, should the falcons having him running drags and screens in the offense because no other receiver is good at it. Or should he focus more on route running towards the first down marker because that is more valuable?

    • ianaboyd

      1) There’s definitely some more risk in the form of extra defenders (and arms) that can mess things up. However, all the passes and windows are closer and easier to rifle the ball through and spread offenses have all kinds of concepts designed to make them as clear and open as possible so that QBs can fit the ball through.

      2) I think you play to your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses. If you focus on your weaknesses with your strategy then you are choosing that as the battlefield. If you focus on your strengths well enough that you can win games with them then you force that to be the battlefield.

      Like the Cavs. When they play four shooters around LeBron they aren’t a terrific rebounding team, but they are so freaking efficient on offense that most teams end up giving up and playing small with them because the strength of LeBron on offense surrounded by shooters proves to be the more influential factor than whatever you can do trying to out-rebound them. At least usually, it was a close thing last night.

      With Julio Jones you design the offense around what he does best so that the defense has to first concern themselves with stopping him before they can start to divert attention to getting after your weaknesses.

      So many great teams have huge weaknesses that people don’t even realize because their opponents are unable to expose them while scrambling to stop their strengths.

    • ianaboyd

      You’re welcome! The NBA playoffs are probably my favorite sport to watch, perhaps because it’s entirely leisure and not work.

  2. Another question

    What if your best player is a scorer. But he’s going up against a great defender like Kawahi Leonard. Your opponent doesnt really have a lot of other good defenders.

    Do you still run your offense through you best scorer(even though his matchup maybe a tie with Kawai) or do you find another player who has a better mismatch and attack through them?

    Also, like in football. You have an all-american wr. The rest are average to good. Your opponent has an all-american corner(equal to your wr) who will guard your top wr. Do you still run plays with him as the focus or look to attack through better match up at receiver even if they are far weaker players then your star?

    Same concept but If your offense is a great passing offense. But the defense has a great secondary. But a weak run defense.

    Do still focus on the pass as your main attack. Or do base your attack around the run game that you are less proficient at?

    • ianaboyd

      Facing someone like Kawhi you want to be able to help your man out with screens and actions to free him up. That’s why you need 2 good options to win a title though and why Kawhi is one of the 3 best players in the world.

      You gotta find ways to play to your strength. If your opponent can negate your strength without exposing themselves to your constraints then…you better be playing good D.

      Usually great offense beats great D tho. Title games in CFB are often shutouts.

        • ianaboyd

          Also notable.

          Belichik’s preferred tactic is to double your best WR with his second best CB and a S, then man up your second best WR with his best CB. Good resource allocation, IMO.

          • Its funny you bring that up. Im a big fan of that strategy. It provides few good answeres to the offense. Tbh its that type of thinking on defense that kind of led to my questions earlier.

            I was thinking of ways the offense could do the same think? How could the offense put the defense in a situation where they had no good options. That’s why I was thinking of using your star to fix your problem areas, while it might hurt your best areas if they are really good they could afford some drop off. Now the defense can’t really take anything away because you do multiple things well instead of just one thing.

          • ianaboyd

            Offense is sort of a different game because it’s easier to set the terms. I think it’s generally a mistake to not do what you do best to try and mitigate a weakness. Better to attack and make the defense react.

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