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Thread: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

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    Default Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Anyone remember Paul Westhead?

    He's the man behind the phrase "Paul Ball" ...basically..the whole reason there is a system of Run and Gun. Thanks Paul.

    Interstingly though, Paul Westhead was successful with this system. He's won in the NBA and won in the WNBA. (And his former assistant coach, and former point guard beat the Indiana Fever this season to win.) Because, there's more to the system than a "free for all" offense.

    Quite frankly, Obrien..and maybe it's because he "hasn't had the horses" has only been doing the system half way. Regardles..he's doing it wrong. Because this offense IS fun to watch, when done right. I'm not sure if JOB is trying to run Paul Ball, but from the looks of it, and from what JOB often says..and how he refers to it as "the system" (which proponents of Paul Ball often do)..I'd guess he is.

    The point of the offense, is to run in transition, and take the first open shot. Not the first "shot" not the first "kinda open shot" the first OPEN shot.
    First lets talk about lineups. The recent WNBA won with a lineup, mostly consisting of.
    Cappie Pondextor, Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, Penny Taylor, and Tangela Smith.
    Now, as with that offense, they tried to do several things.

    Push the ball
    1. First open shot.
    2. If no open shot immediatly, Look for Tangela Smith (Center) on the trailing 3
    3. After about ten seconds of no open shot, try to run a play for Taylor (PF) or Taurasi (SG/SF)
    4. If all else fails, Pondexter (Point Guard) tries to break down the defense..going one on one.

    That's the offense in a nut shell.

    What are the qualities of that lineup. Every single one of them can shoot the three. Yes, that is important. In fact, Tangela Smith, the Center, led the WNBA in three point field goal percentage..and she was soft and a terrible defender. (hmmm) More importantly they are all explosive offensive players. The Phoenix Mercury played the players that fit the system.

    So What lineup fits that system.
    AJ Price
    Brandon Rush
    Mike Dunleavy
    Danny Granger
    Troy Murphy

    Why Troy Murphy at center? Well, as said, he can hit the three. And as part of the offense I described, the "trailing Center" is a big part of it. It also does spread the floor well, and it's an unorthodox way to play. I"m not advocating not playing Roy (I'll get to that later) I'm just saying that for this system, Murphy is the best fit at Center.

    Danny Granger at PF. Once again, I know many people hate this. But let's be honest. A. He's the best PF we have. B. Troy and Roy can't play together in the front court no matter what system, never mind a transition one. Hans and Tyler don't do what this system requires. C. This is his best fit for the system.

    AJ at the point. I'm not saying this because obviously I'm an advocate of him, but because..in order for this system to work..it's necessary he's there. AJ can do things that Watson can't. He speeds up the game, is more assertive offensive, more versital offensively, and as I said..#4, he can break down a defense better than Watson. The more explosive offensive guy is the one needed. In this system. It's asking a lot. But quite frankly, if Obrien truly wants to play this offense, and not some half *** version, Price is the best option at point.

    Dunleavy. Dunleavy is playing more of the "Taurasi" role. With screens and such to help him get open. He should obviously be one of the guys we focus on getting points. Using screens and looking for him in transition.

    and Rush..like Bonner, just fits in. I put Rush here instead of Jones because Rush can hit the three. What can I say, it is important, particularly if you are using Murphy at the Center. Because the whole point is to not allow the defense to sag.

    Substitutions. and Rotations

    Price/Watson
    Rush/ Jones or Head Possibly Price if we're shooting for midget ball...which is a component of Paul Ball.
    Dunleavy/ Rush or Jones
    Granger/Hans...if and only if Troy is at Center
    Troy/Hibbert or Murphy..both only if Granger is at PF

    There are "offensive" (which means something a bit different) players: Granger, Roy, Murphy, Price, Head, Dunleavy

    The "defensive" players: SJones, DJones, Watson, Hans, Foster, Roy (Yes Roy), McRoberts. (and Play McBob at Center.)

    Then there are middle ground players: Rush. I seperated him because he's not in the mold of the "offensive guys" but he can play with any of them, like the "offensive guys" ..in fact..I'd play him more. I think he's an important part..because he does just "Fit in" and he's the best defender we've got.


    If you'll notice, this is truthfully broken up into 3 point shooter who are aggresive scorers vs. non three point shooters and/or who aren't as aggressive, and Rush..who is a three point shooter that isn't aggressive.

    The important part of this, is WHO you use together.

    And it basically comes down to this, if you want to use a defensive player, the system works much better if the other players on the court are "offensive" players.

    Do NOT play Watson and Jones together. Don't do it. Teams will sag, that's two positions on the floor that can not hit the three, (although Watson can, he's gunshy) You want to sub out Price, you leave Rush in or you put Watson and Head in.

    In fact (wait for the screams) Don't play ANY of the "defensive" players together, or as little as possible. You can play the "middle" guys with "defensive" guys though, but it's better to play them with the offensive group.

    As I said earlier. No Troy and Roy together. None. You'll suddenly be slow and the defense is terrible. In fact, Roy should be Troy's backup. Given plenty of time. There are some other defensive liabilities together. I wouldn't stick Head and Price together too much. Although neither is terrible defensively, they're both kind of short, and neither are defensive stoppers so that's a pretty big mismatch on the opposing team's shooting guard.

    It's a pretty easy formula to follow. And in fact, many of the people who try to use "Paul Ball" are incredibly systematic. You'll notice JOB is incredibly into his statistics. He has certain players come into the game at certain times, no matter what. Corey Gaines is like that too, listen to him talk about basketball..and you'll think he's talking about Math.

    But he changed a bit, and that's how his team won.

    And Paul Westhead is different than the above, because he was an excellent adjustment coach. Knowing who to play when, is important. I laid out a bit of a formula, and the system needs for it to be followed. But adjustments are needed too. IF AJ's "acting like a rookie"...watson needs to play, and the #4 option gets handed to Danny or Rush. ect...it's those intuitive coaching moves..adjustments..that need to be made.


    As for Defense. Westhead used a sort of "zone" with his team, which was the best form of defense for them. Because his center was a terrible defensive player. Basically, protect the middle. How was this done, well...Danny and Rush would be doing most of the work. Basically you sag into the middle. In general, Westhead's defense is pretty bad. And it'll rain threes. But it'd be good for this team to make SOMETHING difficult for an opposing team. *anything* and proctecting the middle is the best way to go.

    This is an unconventional way to play basketball. I know that. And I'm not necessarily advocating it for this team..because I think we'd be better off playing with Roy as the focus..and getting rid of Murphy. It can be fun to watch, when done right. But it does rely on shooting, an off night and you will get blown out. But it's been successful before, and this system and these players are capable of bringing a better record than this.

    However, as long as JOB is here, he's going to want to run his system. And if he's gonna run "paul ball" he needs to do it 100%, instead of this ...run down the court and shoot up a god awful shot..nonesence. That isn't this system. This is a mess. Either do it right, or don't do it at all. Because if you don't do it right, it..well..it looks like this.
    Last edited by Sookie; 01-21-2010 at 02:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sookie View Post
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    Anyone remember Paul Westhead?

    He's the man behind the phrase "Paul Ball" ...basically..the whole reason there is a system of Run and Gun. Thanks Paul.

    Interstingly though, Paul Westhead was successful with this system. He's won in the NBA and won in the WNBA. (And his former assistant coach, and former point guard beat the Indiana Fever this season to win.) Because, there's more to the system than a "free for all" offense.

    Quite frankly, Obrien..and maybe it's because he "hasn't had the horses" has only been doing the system half way. Regardles..he's doing it wrong. Because this offense IS fun to watch, when done right. I'm not sure if JOB is trying to run Paul Ball, but from the looks of it, and from what JOB often says..and how he refers to it as "the system" (which proponents of Paul Ball often do)..I'd guess he is.

    The point of the offense, is to run in transition, and take the first open shot. Not the first "shot" not the first "kinda open shot" the first OPEN shot.
    First lets talk about lineups. The recent WNBA won with a lineup, mostly consisting of.
    Cappie Pondextor, Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, Penny Taylor, and Tangela Smith.
    Now, as with that offense, they tried to do several things.

    Push the ball
    1. First open shot.
    2. If no open shot immediatly, Look for Tangela Smith (Center) on the trailing 3
    3. After about ten seconds of no open shot, try to run a play for Taylor (PF) or Taurasi (SG/SF)
    4. If all else fails, Pondexter (Point Guard) tries to break down the defense..going one on one.

    That's the offense in a nut shell.

    What are the qualities of that lineup. Every single one of them can shoot the three. Yes, that is important. In fact, Tangela Smith, the Center, led the WNBA in three point field goal percentage..and she was soft and a terrible defender. (hmmm) More importantly they are all explosive offensive players. The Phoenix Mercury played the players that fit the system.

    So What lineup fits that system.
    AJ Price
    Brandon Rush
    Mike Dunleavy
    Danny Granger
    Troy Murphy

    Why Troy Murphy at center? Well, as said, he can hit the three. And as part of the offense I described, the "trailing Center" is a big part of it. It also does spread the floor well, and it's an unorthodox way to play. I"m not advocating not playing Roy (I'll get to that later) I'm just saying that for this system, Murphy is the best fit at Center.

    Danny Granger at PF. Once again, I know many people hate this. But let's be honest. A. He's the best PF we have. B. Troy and Roy can't play together in the front court no matter what system, never mind a transition one. Hans and Tyler don't do what this system requires. C. This is his best fit for the system.

    AJ at the point. I'm not saying this because obviously I'm an advocate of him, but because..in order for this system to work..it's necessary he's there. AJ can do things that Watson can't. He speeds up the game, is more assertive offensive, more versital offensively, and as I said..#4, he can break down a defense better than Watson. The more explosive offensive guy is the one needed. In this system. It's asking a lot. But quite frankly, if Obrien truly wants to play this offense, and not some half *** version, Price is the best option at point.

    Dunleavy. Dunleavy is playing more of the "Taurasi" role. With screens and such to help him get open. He should obviously be one of the guys we focus on getting points. Using screens and looking for him in transition.

    and Rush..like Bonner, just fits in. I put Rush here instead of Jones because Rush can hit the three. What can I say, it is important, particularly if you are using Murphy at the Center. Because the whole point is to not allow the defense to sag.

    Substitutions. and Rotations

    Price/Watson
    Rush/ Jones or Head Possibly Price if we're shooting for midget ball...which is a component of Paul Ball.
    Dunleavy/ Rush or Jones
    Granger/Hans...if and only if Troy is at Center
    Troy/Hibbert or Murphy..both only if Granger is at PF

    There are "offensive" (which means something a bit different) players: Granger, Roy, Murphy, Price, Head, Dunleavy

    The "defensive" players: SJones, DJones, Watson, Hans, Foster, Roy (Yes Roy), McRoberts. (and Play McBob at Center.)

    Then there are middle ground players: Rush. I seperated him because he's not in the mold of the "offensive guys" but he can play with any of them, like the "offensive guys" ..in fact..I'd play him more. I think he's an important part..because he does just "Fit in" and he's the best defender we've got.


    If you'll notice, this is truthfully broken up into 3 point shooter who are aggresive scorers vs. non three point shooters and/or who aren't as aggressive, and Rush..who is a three point shooter that isn't aggressive.

    The important part of this, is WHO you use together.

    And it basically comes down to this, if you want to use a defensive player, the system works much better if the other players on the court are "offensive" players.

    Do NOT play Watson and Jones together. Don't do it. Teams will sag, that's two positions on the floor that can not hit the three, (although Watson can, he's gunshy) You want to sub out Price, you leave Rush in or you put Watson and Head in.

    In fact (wait for the screams) Don't play ANY of the "defensive" players together, or as little as possible. You can play the "middle" guys with "defensive" guys though, but it's better to play them with the offensive group.

    As I said earlier. No Troy and Roy together. None. You'll suddenly be slow and the defense is terrible. In fact, Roy should be Troy's backup. Given plenty of time. There are some other defensive liabilities together. I wouldn't stick Head and Price together too much. Although neither is terrible defensively, they're both kind of short, and neither are defensive stoppers so that's a pretty big mismatch on the opposing team's shooting guard.

    It's a pretty easy formula to follow. And in fact, many of the people who try to use "Paul Ball" are incredibly systematic. You'll notice JOB is incredibly into his statistics. He has certain players come into the game at certain times, no matter what. Corey Gaines is like that too, listen to him talk about basketball..and you'll think he's talking about Math.

    But he changed a bit, and that's how his team won.

    And Paul Westhead is different than the above, because he was an excellent adjustment coach. Knowing who to play when, is important. I laid out a bit of a formula, and the system needs for it to be followed. But adjustments are needed too. IF AJ's "acting like a rookie"...watson needs to play, and the #4 option gets handed to Danny or Rush. ect...it's those intuitive coaching moves..adjustments..that need to be made.


    As for Defense. Westhead used a sort of "zone" with his team, which was the best form of defense for them. Because his center was a terrible defensive player. Basically, protect the middle. How was this done, well...Danny and Rush would be doing most of the work. Basically you sag into the middle. In general, Westhead's defense is pretty bad. And it'll rain threes. But it'd be good for this team to make SOMETHING difficult for an opposing team. *anything* and proctecting the middle is the best way to go.

    This is an unconventional way to play basketball. I know that. And I'm not necessarily advocating it for this team..because I think we'd be better off playing with Roy as the focus..and getting rid of Murphy. It can be fun to watch, when done right. But it does rely on shooting, an off night and you will get blown out. But it's been successful before, and this system and these players are capable of bringing a better record than this.

    However, as long as JOB is here, he's going to want to run his system. And if he's gonna run "paul ball" he needs to do it 100%, instead of this ...run down the court and shoot up a god awful shot..nonesence. That isn't this system. This is a mess. Either do it right, or don't do it at all. Because if you don't do it right, it..well..it looks like this.
    What you have posted here is as terrifying as it is spot on. Excellent analysis!

    Failing in the shooting department does kill us virtually nightly, and there are many resemblances to what you describe. The only way to make a system like this work consistently is to have more of the elusive quicker and more athletic players who can shoot threes to run faster than the opposition and wear them out over the course of games. Teams easily adjust and stop this system early in games (like they do the Pacers at this point), but as fatigue sets in, open shots become easier to find as the game goes on. If our legs hold up, we become more effective defensively as the opposition loses its legs for shots and our either continue to fall, or at least don't drop off much, which leads to comebacks.

    So, with that assumption, it is still very difficult to figure out who plays and who doesn't. The banished TJ is our fastest player, but otherwise fits this system best (I still think Jim wants to play him because of his "ability to push the ball" and drive to the rim for "high percentage" finishing moves [wretch]). The question is, will Jim give up threes from his starting point guard? Second is Price, and spot minutes go to Watson, unless Diener gets healthy enough to shoot threes.

    At the wings, Granger MUST hit shots and be considered a threat from 3, which will not happen for a while until he learns how to adjust to his foot issues, but he has to be a starter in this system. But, who else do you play? The best facilitator of offensive flow who is currently still recovering from his knee issues and will likely continue to struggle with his shot due to a heavy schedule in Dun? No. Luther Head? Too streaky to be reliable enough for O'B to trust, which is good. Rush or Dahntay? Pick your poison between a player who can make threes if the planets align and no one has messed with his qi (energy flow) recently in Rush, or Dahntay Jones who is not a threat from 3 and is mostly a threat offensively when he wildly drives into traffic in the manner of the point guards in this system and can't avoid being too "hands on" defensively to avoid fouling at a high rate for his position.

    Inside at the 4 and 5, plainly the only viable choice is Murphy (hurl) due to his threes, with a grab bag for the rest of the minutes. In reality, the player who should play in a system like this is probably McRoberts due to his athleticism compared to anyone else on the roster, but not if O'B is going to try to have him shoot threes. Doing that totally destroys the rest of what he can do, which is to play the role of an athletic traditional 4. So, that should leave Roy currently because Solo is just as slow but is not a factor offensively, and Hansbrough is just not healthy enough to get minutes. When he does get healthy, his only reason to be out there under this system is to get to the line (very similar to how he has been utilized thus far). That said, Foster's speed if he gets healthy could lead to extending posessions offensively and increase our success rate, and for that he should be the 5 next to Murphy at the 4.

    Obviously, there is not a single thing to like about this system played by our roster, but I really think you might have exposed a large part of what is going on. The terrifying part is that O'B still is refusing to change his ways even with player confusion, fatigue, and possibly rebellion dictating that adjustments need to be made to the SYSTEM by the coach. How can Bird be expected to trade away approximately 8 guys to enable (and I am using that term both in its positive and negative senses here) O'B to continue to run his "system"?

    I am now more firmly convinced (if that is possible) that the entire issue with the franchise is our reliance on the vision of Jim O'Brien to shape our franchise going forward, and that Larry Bird needs to make a coaching staff change no later than the end of this season, if not immediately, and begin the LONG process of building a roster piece by piece with quality players with basketball IQ who can adapt to various traditional basketball viewpoints depending on whatever coach is hired to take on the onerous and likely thankless task of cleaning up the abomination that O'B has influenced the assembly of here.

    It will take more than just the expiring of contracts to make things even close to right here. It will take a concerted effort between actual basketball minds that have the best interests of the Pacers both as a franchise financially and from a basketball standpoint, at heart to figure out what moves need to be made, and to resist the temptation of taking the easy way out by trying to fix everything with just the signing of a superstar or two and letting the rest go due to budget constraints that signing superstars inevitably leads to. I don't have any idea whether such people are currently employed with the franchise or not, which is frightening in and of itself.

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Yeah as you mentioend this isn't Paul Ball - thankfully because what Westhead ran as coach of the Nuggets was disgusting.

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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Excellent contribution, Sookie.
    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

    “If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning.” - Catherine Aird

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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Yeah as you mentioend this isn't Paul Ball - thankfully because what Westhead ran as coach of the Nuggets was disgusting.
    No, it's not Paul Ball, it's a cheap imitation, which was my point.

    Obviously, you have to have the personal to do it..which my guess is, in Denver, Westhead did not. But on the other side, Westhead is the only "run and gun" coach, that I know of, that's been successful professionally. As he has an NBA ring, and a WNBA ring.

    So, if we're going to do "Paul Ball" Let's actually run it. Do it right or don't do it at all. I don't know how JOB actually expects the team to run and score well with some of the player combinations he puts on the court. I think there are player combinations that could run this system successfully on THIS team. And at the very least, it would be fun to watch. Although, I like many people, would rather the team slowed it down, and use Hibbert as the main anchor offensively. That won't happen so long as JOB is here. If his system won't change, it needs to be amended *as the four things I pointed out..quick open shots, look for the trailing center for three, if that fails try to get a quick open shot for Danny or Dun, if all else fails, let the point break down the defense.*

    As for Ford. No, he's not the type of point guard that's good in the system. He can do the last bit, the..breaking down the defense. However, he's not a shooter..which is important. He's not a passer, which is also important. He dribbles too much, which means the game is actually slower, and he's turnover prone..which is another danger. A huge part of Paul Ball is trying to get more shots than your opponents. If a team can't defend, turnovers have to be limited.
    Last edited by Sookie; 01-21-2010 at 04:45 PM.

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    One of the major components of Westhead was pressing full court - that is a major difference from anything that JOB does.
    Westhead did not run anything close to the same suystem he ran in Denver when he won in LA. - Not even close

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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    One of the major components of Westhead was pressing full court - that is a major difference from anything that JOB does.
    Westhead did not run anything close to the same suystem he ran in Denver when he won in LA. - Not even close
    But that was another thing, that I pointed out that Westhead does, that Jim does not.

    Early on in his career as a coach of the Mercury, he quickly realized his team could not press, as the other team would just get layups..*as what would happen to our team* and changed it. He adjusted it. And maybe that's why he's more successful than other run and gun coaches.

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    Default Re: Jim O'Brien and "Paul Ball"

    Whatever you choose to do as a coach, I think usually (always?) you need to pick a style where the clear majority of your energy is used on either offense or defense, but not both.

    If I wanted to primarily put my players' energy into the offense with a run and gun, 7 seconds or less, whatever kind of offense, I would probably play a lot of zone defense to rest them on the other side.

    If I wanted to primarily put my players' energy into the defense (aggression, trapping, forcing where the ball goes, etc.), I would walk the ball up often and run a set offense.

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