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View Full Version : TBird analysis: JO on the low block vs the high post



thunderbird1245
11-17-2006, 03:28 PM
Hello again...Im off work today for the first time in a long time, so I have some thoughts on this week's Pacer developments, and some observations on JO's fundamentals that I want to share with all of you.

First of all, some discussion of JO and his role on offense. I realize that he has been struggling lately offensively, anybody who can read a box score can see the evidence of that. Apparently, both he himself and many of you are wanting him to play much less along the high post and elbow area, and much more posting up on the low block nearer the goal. However, my coaching experience and logic tells me that this is not a long term solution, and will only create different problems, and probably wont work much better than what we are doing already.

My reasoning goes like this. Even if you think JO is a much better low post player than I do, and you think he is a premier enough scorer in this fashion that it will cause double teams by the opponent, letting our offense work better because of that, how does that really help us?

There are 2 big problems that our lack of perimeter shooting causes us to have in my view. One of them is it makes feeding the post a huge huge problem. It will be very easy for teams to simply sag off our post feeders along the wing, making it a very difficult task just entering the ball to JO on the block. That lack of a shooting threat from our passer on the wing will cause JO to struggle to get open, and the passer to have to hold the ball longer on the wing, grinding our offense to a halt. When that happens, there will be many complaints on this board about us slowing down the offense and playing "JO ball".

JO posting on the block isnt his strength, and I think RC knows this. JO has a weaker lower body and legs, and often gets bumped off the block a few steps in the process of trying to get open. he isnt like Shaq, Yao, Elton Brand, or even Al Harrington who can hold their ground well and keep the defense pinned behind them. JO's defender can get around him, causing him to either have to drift away from the block to free himself, or to muscle even more with his defender, adding to the wear and tear on his already fragile frame.

With our lack of shooters, the other help defenders can sag as well, not just the passer's man. This will let double teams have less floor to cover to get to him, and will likely lead to more turnovers resulting from JO having to pass the ball out with tight defense on him. Even if he does make a successful inside out pass, who here likes our odds of our present roster making enough open outside shots to win?

JO could become better at holding his ground and being a better post player BEFORE he gets the ball, but he never has learned that key fundamental skill well. If I were coaching him at all, Id try and improve his footwork before the ball is passed to him by having him get wider and lower with his lower body, and present a bigger target to the feeder. He also clearly needs to learn to stick his inside leg (the leg closest to the defender when he is angling for the ball), right in between his defenders 2 legs, in effect making his defender straddle him. Almost always the defender (to prevent being hit in the groin) will back up a step, retreating to be able to come around him defensively. JO could then back him deeper to the goal to pin his man in closer or step back away from as the pass is in the air, creating himself some extra space to shoot or drive. Some of the players I can think of who did this fundamental well in the past were Jack Sikma, Karl Malone, Adrian Dantley, Robert Parish and Mark Aguirre. If JO would learn this and use it better he'd be a lot harder to guard. Larry Bird was pretty good at it too, except he did it on the perimeter alot to get open, especially at his favorite spot on the right side. JO doing this fundamental well, would help him get open, and set him up for a drop step to the baseline, which is a power move that can get him a dunk or a trip to the foul line. Instead, JO often catches the ball a little further out with the defender in great position on him, which causes JO to have to back in to his man while dribbling, slowing down the entire offense. Its all about leverage and footwork and balance, and JO in my view is weak in this particular fundamental.

I said before the season and I say again now: JO should be a much better player for us offensively if we play him away from the goal some, near the high post area. The only real adjustment that needs to be made with JO offensively, in my judgement, is he needs to get mentally tougher. By that I mean he needs to quit letting a shooting slump effect him and his attitude. He just needs to shut up and play, and start making some wide open shots. When that happens, teams will play up on him and he will be able to drive and get himself to the line more often. He also needs to attack the rim off the dribble, and make the man guarding him play him honestly, then he can spin against him possibly and make a more traditional post move.

The only true adjustment I think RC needs to use with JO offensively is to use him in some "big on big" screen/roll situations with Harrington near the foul line area. I wrote about this extensively in the summer as what I thought would be the Pacers very best half court offensive set play, and am disappointed we havent seen it yet. Those of you interested can go back and find it on here, or can recollect their memories to this years international team, when Coach K used this offensive play quite often.

I'm getting close to recommending a change in philosophy about our lineups and how we are trying to play the game, but I'm not all the way there yet. Even when or if I do write about that, putting JO on the low block more will not be one of the recommendations I make....neither he nor our other players are well suited to play that way.

JMO as always.

Isaac
11-17-2006, 03:40 PM
I think JO should get the ball on the low post more often, but I don't think that the traditional dump it in to the low block strategy will work with him. I want to see some off the ball movement by Jermaine and some double screens to free him down there. For example, Tinsley has the ball on the right wing, and Jermaine is on the left block. Jermaine curls around the free throw line getting picks from Al and then Jack. Jamaal hits Jermaine in stride and JO will have an easy dunk or a mismatch. Jermaine proved against Orlando that he's very good at getting in to the middle against a zone and making the right passes, or knocking down those 13-16 footers. I think with proper screens by the right people in the right places, Jermaine would be able to be more of a low post anchor.

ChicagoJ
11-17-2006, 04:11 PM
I must be the biggest advocate of JO in the low post here. Maybe I am a fanboy.

I think JO is an excellent low post player, but maybe I'm still living the in the Mark Aguirre era, when JO was the BEST player in the entire eastern conference.

I can't see any scenario in which JO in the low post automatically bogs down the rest of the offense. We've done a really crappy job of coaching and executing low-post offense during the Rick Carlisle era, but we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water.

There must be more movement, JO must get the ball in the post in a variety of ways, and he must get into his moves quicker. Those problems are all solveable.

My proposed 4-out offense contemplates that JO gets the ball about 1/3 of the time on the left block, 1/3 of the time on the right block, and 1/3 of the time at the high post.

With only playing one post player, it doesn't really change the spacing if JO's playing high post or low post.

Al and Danny belong on the baseline, or Al can slip into the paint for a two-post offensive set every now and then.

Tbird, in my opinion, you're advocating something close to a donut offense and that, IMO, is the offensive equivalent to fronting the post. Its something you should only do as a gimmick because you don't have a quality big man.

We have two quality big men that can play the post offensively (sometimes, Al can even make it three quality big men in the post). Let's use them.

I'll say it one other way,

If we're not going to play JO in the post, we might as well trade him for a couple of lottery picks and start a five-year rebuilding process (hoping one of them turns out to be as good as he is/was), because without him in the post we're a long, long way from a deep playoff run and we're not going to get the type of player for him we'd need via a trade.

Slick Pinkham
11-17-2006, 04:25 PM
I would agree that JO's effectiveness in the low block is limited in half-court sets with guards who can't make a post entry pass.

If we can continue to push the ball I would like him get more scoring opportunities receiving the ball before the defense is set up and committed to pushing him off the blocks and weak-side help. It is also much easier for the guards to make post-entry passes in transition or semi-transition than in a half-court 5-on-5 set.

If we can get the ball to JO with 12 seconds or more on the shot clock and as close to the basket as possible I think he can be an effective low post player. If the guards pound the ball and get it to him with a few seconds on the clock then it doesn't work.

I'd like to use him like Phoenix used Amare before his microfracture surgery, basically. Catching the ball on the move, using spin moves and attacking the basket, from either a facing the basket position or with catching the pass with his back to the basket.

Or we can trade for a guard who can feed the post even in a half court set.

Or we can use a time machine to go back and draft Marcus Williams.

:twocents:

Putnam
11-17-2006, 04:28 PM
tbird, as always your arguments are very persuasive, and would be even more persuasive if I understood more fully. I have just this question:

Are you saying O'Neal should never position himself in the low post, and that there should be no set plays with him working there?

Right now O'Neal is playing low never. Some people are saying he should play there some of the time. Jay seems to feel O'Neal should play there most of the time.

Your post makes great points about why O'Neal should not be in the low post always, but I think you are highly controversial if you are saying he should never do it.

So, if you would, please clarify the circumstances when you would and would not like to see JO down low and the likely percentage of his shots he should take from the paint and from 12 feet out.

thanks.

thunderbird1245
11-17-2006, 04:36 PM
Jay:

Im not trying to be critical of JO's game on the low block after he gets the ball, but its the BEFORE he gets it where he has issues in my judgment. Im not really so much worried about JO performing on the block, I just have little confidence in our other players abilities to get the ball to him down there in an effective and timely way. I just see post feeding being a huge offensive weakness for this team, especially with a post guy who needs to catch the ball on the move and in rhythm, instead of being able to post up strong and hold ground for a few seconds waiting on a pass.

I love the 4 out offense, and have run that as a motion set myself for many years as a part of our base motion philosophy. However, aligning the Pacers in that fashion wouldnt work that well in my view due to our lack of perimeter shooters. Intelligent teams would lay off Tinsley, Jackson, Daniels and others until they consistently proved they could make enough shots to be successful. You also are basically committed to playing small ball with this offensive set, as playing Foster or Harrison with JO becomes impossible. Actually, playing Foster at all becomes impossible playing this way because he clearly cant play outside on the perimeter, and he cant be your go to guy in the post either playing a "4 around 1" offense. I'm not a big fan of Foster but you need to be aware that he can't play at all using this style of offense.

I think with this particular team and lineup, we are better off primarily playing the way we are currently trying it, with a pg, 2 wings, a low post player (Harrington) and a high post player (ONeal). I do think that JO and Harrington need to move more and be more creative in their screen actions if you were playing this way, but that hasnt been what we've emphasized so far. On top of that, most of our current "quick hitters" weve used (flex mostly started various ways) typically have produced good shots for JO at the elbow area, lately he just isnt making as many.

Lots of the fans have enjoyed our flex movements when theyve worked and weve been playing well, its when weve struggled to score that the complaints have happened.

For now I think we need to primarily do what weve been doing, but do it a hell of a lot better.

Fool
11-17-2006, 04:40 PM
Why isn't Sarunas better at feed JO on the move, in rythm, and in a timely manner? Isn't that what he excells at with Harrison?

ChicagoJ
11-17-2006, 04:49 PM
Im not really so much worried about JO permorming on the block, I just have little confidence in our other players abilities to get the ball to him down there in an effective and timely way. I just see post feeding being a huge offensive weakness for this team, especially with a post guy who needs to catch the ball on the move and in rhythm, instead of being able to post up strong and hold ground for a few seconds waiting on a pass.

Fair point.


I'm not a big fan of Foster but you need to be aware that he can't play at all using this style of offense.

One more great thing about that offense! (Waiting for UB to recover from the heart attack I just caused. :flirt: )


I think with this particular team and lineup, we are better off primarily playing the way we are currently trying it, with a pg, 2 wings, a low post player (Harrington) and a high post player (ONeal).

I'd invert that - Al at the high post and JO in the low post.

And frankly, that's what I think JO is probably asking for.

I don't mind JO facing the basket/ high post every once in a while. I don't want it to be his primary on-court position.

I do think we need to make some decisions about how well our backcourt works with a low-post threat. Tinsley's had a lot of room to operate with JO out of the way, but he's not finishing plays well and he's even reverting to a knuckleball style shot from about 8' feet out instead of penetrating all the way to the rim.

I don't mind Tinsley on a drive-and-shoot, or drive-and-dish. But I'd much rather have JO and Marquis shooting close to the rim than Tinsley and Al.

Yes, I'm assuming we'll see the "quick" JO and not the plodding JO we've seen for the past couple of seasons. But I'd still take the plodding JO over the perimeter JO.

:twocents:

thunderbird1245
11-17-2006, 04:51 PM
tbird, as always your arguments are very persuasive, and would be even more persuasive if I understood more fully. I have just this question:

Are you saying O'Neal should never position himself in the low post, and that there should be no set plays with him working there?

Right now O'Neal is playing low never. Some people are saying he should play there some of the time. Jay seems to feel O'Neal should play there most of the time.

Your post makes great points about why O'Neal should not be in the low post always, but I think you are highly controversial if you are saying he should never do it.

So, if you would, please clarify the circumstances when you would and would not like to see JO down low and the likely percentage of his shots he should take from the paint and from 12 feet out.

thanks.


Ok, Ill try and clarify.

JO isnt a true unstoppable low post option. He can score down there but he is dependent both on his teammates ability to get him the ball and the matchups created by who else we have in the game with him. He can't just post up all players every time, he isnt strong enough or good enough to do that, plus we arent very good at feeding it to him in there anyway.

Here is how we can use JO to score more and get more shots, in no particular order:

1. Out of the high post, just like we are trying now.
2. In screen/roll and screen/fade spots, just like the NYK game for example.
3. Against teams who try and defend him with a smaller man we can post him more often, like Jay wants to. This wont happen however playing the lineups we are using curently very often.
4. If we rotate our players in such a manner to have JO in with the second unit against the opponents back up center we can post him more.
5. We can run more 3 out 2 in motion, with JO and Harrington screening more often for one another. If JO screened better, hed have more offensive rebound chances.
6. We can run big on big screen rolls for Al and JO like described previously.
7. We can feed JO at the high post and clear a side, so he can attack off the dribble and use his speed more effectively.
8. He can hit the glass harder and get some offensive rebounds to spark himself.
9. We can emphasize all the above and stress to JO to not settle as easily for the open jumper, but to take his man off the dribble and attack the rim more.

Jo has to score 20 plus points and shoot a high percentage for us to be any good, but he doesnt have a clear unstoppable go to move, nor does he have one dominant strength to his game. He has to use variety and versatility to be at his best. I think he solves alot of his own problems if he just starts hitting some open jumpers, making teams come up on him and play him honestly. Then he can drive more, get to the line, etc etc etc.

it would also help if he was just plain stronger and better and more fundamentally sound without the ball, but he isnt, so there isnt any reason to expect that to change at this point.

thunderbird1245
11-17-2006, 04:54 PM
Why isn't Sarunas better at feed JO on the move, in rythm, and in a timely manner? Isn't that what he excells at with Harrison?

Yes it is, but unfortunately he has other weaknesses that if he isnt shooting well prevent him from being in the game. Lots of problems would be solved if Sarunas would just play better, but other than occasionally that doesnt happen.

JMO

Fool
11-17-2006, 05:10 PM
That doesn't address why he's not better at feeding JO. Clearly in his limited time on the court (justified as its been to limit him) he's been able to show he can do it for Harrison but I've yet to see a post that says he's done the same for JO. I assume they've been on the court together at the same time. I'm asking why (in that time) they haven't connected like he and Harrison have.

I'm not asking or even breaching the topic of giving Saras more time.

D-BONE
11-17-2006, 05:34 PM
I think he solves alot of his own problems if he just starts hitting some open jumpers, making teams come up on him and play him honestly. Then he can drive more, get to the line, etc etc etc.


This is the simplest way for JO to get untracked. He's just in a slump. He's a good mid-range shooter and most guys that check him won't close out on him away from the hoop.

I said it in another thread-the addage of the shooter shooting out of the slump. He's just got to stop worrying and overanalyzing and just keep chipping away until he breaks out of the slump. This is one of the reasons I somtimes get irritated by JO. It's like, when his scoring is down, it doesn't have anyting to do with him. It's b/c he's not being properly utilized.

Once he starts hitting again, it opens up some other options for him. It's fine for him to get some looks in the low post, but I don't honestly think he's a true low post dominator.

Besides, how many teams these days even have a true offensive low post presence. And even if they do, there are donut or semi-donut teams that make deep playoff runs. Take last year. Shaq didn't win Miami the championship.

And, finally, I think Al is the superior low post scorer of the two of them in terms of traditional post ups.

NuffSaid
11-17-2006, 05:44 PM
T-bird has skillfully outline how important a player like Reggie was to this team's offense (even when so many people felt he should come off the bench at times). A predominate low-post player like JO needs three things to help move his game along:

1) a deep ball threat!

2) a good passer.

3) A good Center or SF on the opposite side of the blocks.

The first item we're still looking for. The second is coming along in Granger. The third...let me just say there are two options here: a) Al needs to play from SF vice Center and play more defense; or, b) Foster needs to play more (minutes) at Center to free Al from some of his defensive responsibilities.

I really don't think a lineup w/JO @ the 4 and Al @ the 5 is a good pairing mainly because Al is more of an offensive player and as such looks more to score than defend. But if he were moved to SF w/JO and Foster on the court w/him the front-court could be opened up more and allow JO or Al to do what they do best! But as long as one of these guys is either called upon or views it his job to score, rebound, defend and pass while the other looks mainly to score and play limited defense, it's just not going to work.

ChicagoJ
11-17-2006, 05:51 PM
But then you get back to the all JO/Jeff problems, and that list is about a mile long but starts with "JO is double-teamed by another big a l l g a m e l o n g." That's not good for the Pacers, although it does give Jeff a few more OR opportunities.

imawhat
11-17-2006, 06:58 PM
There are 2 big problems that our lack of perimeter shooting causes us to have in my view. One of them is it makes feeding the post a huge huge problem. It will be very easy for teams to simply sag off our post feeders along the wing, making it a very difficult task just entering the ball to JO on the block.

That would be a problem, but I can't say that's true at the moment. Al Harrington is at .467, Danny Granger is at .462, and Darrell Armstrong is at .550 from 3-point range so far. I'm not saying we should keep them behind the arc, but right now they are enough of a threat for the defense to respect them, rather than sag away. I would think it'd continue to be that way until their percentages drop, hypothetically.


JO posting on the block isnt his strength, and I think RC knows this. JO has a weaker lower body and legs, and often gets bumped off the block a few steps in the process of trying to get open. he isnt like Shaq, Yao, Elton Brand, or even Al Harrington who can hold their ground well and keep the defense pinned behind them. JO's defender can get around him, causing him to either have to drift away from the block to free himself, or to muscle even more with his defender, adding to the wear and tear on his already fragile frame.

Jermaine's strength is his quickness and athleticism, and that can be used on the block. He doesn't have to muscle his guys into a good shot, but we've seen him do it before. I agree about the wear and tear.



JO could become better at holding his ground and being a better post player BEFORE he gets the ball, but he never has learned that key fundamental skill well.

Couldn't agree more. Your suggestion is spot on, and theoretically it could benefit Jermaine as much/more than it did your examples because of his quickness.


I said before the season and I say again now: JO should be a much better player for us offensively if we play him away from the goal some, near the high post area.

I think he'd be much more effective near the goal, or at least with a mixture of near the goal and away. His two best seasons (in my opinion) came during the Isiah era when he was playing almost entirely near the goal. He is good at facing up his defenders, and it was easier then because he was facing up bigger, slower players, but not that many teams have those bigger, slower players anymore. I still think he can face up, but he has a better chance of backing guys down now than he did then. Either way, his field goal percentage during those two years was significantly higher, and despite the wear and tear theory (which I do believe), he played 72 and 77 games (ones missed mostly for personal reasons, sickness, etc..but not injury) those years. Another thing is that it cuts down on his turnovers, surprisingly (look at his turnovers/game ratio and how it spiked with him playing further from the basket). Overall I think he's really good outside, but his field goal percentage is lower with that style, and I think everyone on the team should be taking the best shots they can get.



The only real adjustment that needs to be made with JO offensively, in my judgement, is he needs to get mentally tougher. By that I mean he needs to quit letting a shooting slump effect him and his attitude. He just needs to shut up and play, and start making some wide open shots.

I agree with you. I think it's a general adjustment that he needs to make. He cares a lot, and it can negatively affect his game when things aren't going well. I'd love to see him put his head down and grind it out when he's not shooting well.


The only true adjustment I think RC needs to use with JO offensively is to use him in some "big on big" screen/roll situations with Harrington near the foul line area. I wrote about this extensively in the summer as what I thought would be the Pacers very best half court offensive set play, and am disappointed we havent seen it yet.

I think that would be great, and I'm surprised I haven't seen it yet. I feel like Al and Jermaine haven't really played off of each other this year, and they should be.