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View Full Version : Running an Offense vs Getting Assists



Sookie
03-05-2011, 06:32 PM
Well I warned everyone. Annoy me enough about the “assists are what defines a PG” issue and I’d write a mega essay. (This may or may not have anything to do with me avoiding to research for an actual school essay...:D)

I think evaluating a PG by how many assists he (or she) got, is..missing the forest for the trees, in many cases. I would have thought that Troy and his rebounds would show us all that stats aren’t the end all be all. There are ways to “pad” assists. (see James, Lebron) Simply, I think that a PG should be evaluated by how the offense is running, and what kind of shots the team is getting.

AJ Price is a true point guard. His mind is that of a point guard. Does he have the talent that Lance and DC have. No he doesn’t. And currently he’s pretty limited from his injury last season, which should return eventually (playoffs if we’re lucky..) But his floor game is far superior. AJ plays point off the ball quite often. He uses more than one other play to get a good shot, acting like a director or “coach on the floor.” This is essentially the very definition of “straw that stirs the drink.” It means other guys get involved.

Here is an example of a play that was quite clearly set up by AJ.
http://img29.imageshack.us/i/pic1aj.jpg/ (I can't get the pictures to show up, so links we'll have to do.)

Here there’s an obvious point to Danny, because it’s a still and not in motion, you can’t see that Price was vigorously pointing for Danny to come to that specific spot, and run a PnR with Foster

http://img5.imageshack.us/i/pic2mq.jpg/
http://img7.imageshack.us/i/pic3vi.jpg/
Price is pointing to Foster in where he wants him to set the screen. This is one of those “not really noticeable” things, but you can clearly see it here.

http://img714.imageshack.us/i/pic4ek.jpg/
And finally, here, Josh is cutting, and is about to get a nice pass from Jeff for a Dunk.

I don’t know whether AJ told Josh to cut. I do know, that AJ has completely taken himself outside of the play (Has moved farther beyond the three point line, and is now watching the game) and is looking/saying something to Josh. Josh is a good cutter, but he’s also not very aggressive. But I do know, because of AJ’s body language and where he placed himself on the court (and the fact that he’s taken himself out of the play -although also at a perfect angle for an outlet pass from Foster in case the play didn‘t work) He, at the very least, knew what was going to happen.

Now, AJ doesn’t get a single stat for that. I don’t know whether it was a set play by Vogel, or whether it was something AJ created. However, he clearly recognized it could work, set it up, and directed it. All while not really ever touching the ball during the play.

He doesn’t get any statistic to show for it. (Other than +/-, not a coincidence that AJ tends to lead in that.)

How do I know he’s doing this, he's played this way the entire time I've watched him. I'm not throwing out BS here. This is what it means to be a court general.

Now, he (Price) typically isn’t this far away from the ball with the goons. He really can’t be, that would probably require Hans and Dahntay to pass on the same play. Yea..(Although, he did do something similar last night, which resulted in a Paul George +1, I think Foster passed the ball though. Another scary little tidbit. AJ Price is our best and most willing screener. Now he's good at it. But anyone else think that's an issue?)


In the second unit, AJ tends to play with triangles, often times, you can get a higher quality shot if you use more than two guys. Brandon and AJ did a really good job last year of getting Roy the ball in good spots. They’d be spaced well, and would pass the ball back and forth to each other, shifting the defense, and allowing Roy to get the ball in a good position, and then they’d do a good job getting him the ball then. Basketball is about angles, and using triangles is a very effective way to get a good shot.

http://img200.imageshack.us/i/piccy1.jpg/
AJ then tells Tyler to move, and Tyler gets in position on the other side, with Dun.

http://img171.imageshack.us/i/piccy2.jpg/
Tyler gets fouled, and the play starts again, but the setup is still pretty clear

What’s my point with these two shots?

First off, in both situations, AJ is using the PnR, to get the ball to Dun, so that Tyler can slide into position to get a basket. (During the Heat game, AJ was trying to get the ball to Hans almost every time down the court. For good reason, Bosh was struggling with him. And this is another Bball IQ gem. The “get the ball to the RIGHT person.” Collison really hasn‘t gotten this concept down too well. I haven‘t seen enough of Lance to know if he would. My guess is the way he plays though, wouldn‘t allow him to do that as effectively.) Yet again, no assist, but it’s getting a better shot for Tyler. Neither one of these shots actually worked, but that's not the point. The point is the setup.

To go along with that, obviously it’s been said, but quite often a PG doesn’t get an assist for a pass into a post up situation, because the post player makes the move. Still, it’s pretty obvious that getting the ball into the post, and putting that post player in a good position, is a necessary skill. But yet again. No assist. AJ's our best point at getting the ball in good position for the guy in the post.


Do I have a preference for that type of PG? Obviously. The first “special” PG I ever watched play, played this way. (Although she was/is significantly more talented/skilled than Price, and probably smarter. Although Price is a very..very intelligent player, especially for his age. You can‘t do this, and not be.) Essentially, it takes an extremely high bball IQ to play this way, as well as an obvious ability to command the floor. It’s a chess game.

If AJ isn’t making shots, he quite often doesn’t feel like he played well. Because this is just how he plays. You can expect him to come in every night and command the floor, and run an offense. (obviously we can’t expect him to make shots every night…) It’s similar to Tyler coming in the game with energy. It’s expected. And in AJ’s case, it’s more subtle. But it's the reason why he is a pure point.

Now, when he has the ball in his hands, and is expected to do something with it, he’s more often then not looking for his own shot or running the PnR,. This is the exact same thing Lance and DC do. (They just don't give up the ball nearly as much.) And this way of playing, is playing like a ball dominant SG. The difference in the three is that AJ has another element to his game.

Lance was the most effective of the three at these three things, last game. Good. Those skills are good to have in the rotation. Probably really good to have at crunch time. Doesn’t make him a point guard if that‘s what he is going to do every time. (And teams will figure it out and adjust) Makes him effective though.

A lot of the all star points play a bit differently. Which is why I don't think this style of play is as well noticed or appreciated. There is a lot more improvising and creativity (Steve Nash is the perfect example) They think like AJ (except Rose), but they don’t need to use other guys to get the shot they want for their teammates, they can do that themselves. And that’s where the whole talent thing comes in.

However, I’ll also point out, that there’s a reason that offenses like Boston’s and San Antonio’s wins, but offenses that focus entirely on the point guard (or Lebron James) do not. There’s five players on the court for a reason. Rajon Rondo actually runs an offense, and breaks down a defense and creates a shot for others if he has to, but his first goal is still to run an offense. (Which is why, I tend to end up with “Rajon is the best PG in the league. Albeit, that could simply be a result of coaching.”) Fisher runs the triangle to perfection (or he used to, I haven‘t watched them much this season), and Kobe breaks down the defense creates a shot for himself if need be. Parker actually ran an offense, even though he was/is score first. You need a point guard capable of running an offense in order to win.

Yes, I'm big on Price. But maybe this explains why a bit. If I've got to chose between a guy with the right talent, and a guy with the right mentality, I'm picking the one with the mentality 110% of the time.

And just for curiosity's sake, I went back and looked at games where Dun was playing with DC. To see if he was doing the same thing as AJ does, and perhaps that was what DC was missing. Not really the case. Dun's floor spacing and movement is excellent, but he wasn't running the offense off the ball.

sportfireman
03-05-2011, 06:44 PM
I agree totally I've always said Price is better than Collison. I think Collison would be better off the bench. Now Lance I feel will be better than both. Price is the "true" point point on our team. Lance can be more of a Westbrook and Evans point.

pacer4ever
03-05-2011, 06:45 PM
the funny thing was with Lance last night the offense wasn't revloving around him. He was making plays for other in the context of the offense but what ever. You can see it your way I will see it my way. AJ is a solid pg like a Derek Fisher Ron Harper type is wont be flashy but is solid.

EDIT: with AJ you need a lot of talent around him and he will be really good. but without the talent he looks and will look really average.

Sookie
03-05-2011, 08:18 PM
EDIT: with AJ you need a lot of talent around him and he will be really good. but without the talent he looks and will look really average.

This, I agree with completely. But that's the point in having a "straw that stirs the drink" kind of point guard. I'll be interested in seeing his skills develop. But to me, he's about as perfect of a point as you can get for a team like Miami. Can play off the ball, but still a leader. Has a way of uniting even the most disjointed group of players..

But as I pointed out. Teams that win don't necessarily have the most talented pgs. They have other talented players and PGs that run the team well.

pacer4ever
03-05-2011, 08:44 PM
This, I agree with completely. But that's the point in having a "straw that stirs the drink" kind of point guard. I'll be interested in seeing his skills develop. But to me, he's about as perfect of a point as you can get for a team like Miami. Can play off the ball, but still a leader. Has a way of uniting even the most disjointed group of players..

But as I pointed out. Teams that win don't necessarily have the most talented pgs. They have other talented players and PGs that run the team well.

FYI we are never gonna have that much talent like Fisher had and like Ron Harper had so maybe it is best he moves to a Miami or a place like that.