LeBron, AD and the indefensible pick-and-roll

Not long ago, two men perfected the basketball weapon called the “pick-and-roll.”  John Stockton and Karl Malone reestablished this two-man offensive technique to combine for over a decade of playoff victories, two NBA Finals appearances and countless points scored.

If you didn’t hear the phrase “Stockton to Malone” in the 80s and 90s, you simply weren’t watching basketball.  The two Utah Jazz Hall-of-Famers were symbiotic, still holding the record for most assists to one another in NBA history.  Their record will stand for some time.

The pick-and-roll is actually a pretty simple concept.  One man has the basketball; his teammate sets a pick.  Once that pick is properly set, i.e., positioning himself to either side of the defender, the person dribbles the ball in that direction creating contact between the man defending him and his teammate setting the pick.  Once contact is made, screening of the defender, the person setting the pick immediately rolls to the basket.  It is at that point that the two defenders, the one covering the man with the ball and the other covering the one setting the pick, must make a split decision.  Who covers whom?

Does the defender covering the man with the ball fight through the pick or does he switch to cover the man cutting to the basket?  Whichever way it works, the decision must be made instantaneously.  Communication is paramount.  If this fails to happen, either the man cutting to the basket will receive an easy pass for a lay-up or the man with the basketball will have an open jump shot.  The two defenders covering the pick-and-roll must be as in tune with each other as the offensive players running the scheme.

Upon watching SportsCenter the day after the Anthony Davis trade, ESPN showed the big fella’s top ten highlights as a New Orleans Pelican.  The majority of these highlights came off pick and rolls.

Next year, Anthony Davis will be playing in Los Angeles alongside a man they call LeBron James, who is a pretty good passer in his own right.  Note: LeBron James is 10th on the all-time assist list in NBA history.  This year, he will pass Isiah Thomas and Gary Payton, which is pretty good company.  At 6’8” and 6’10” respectively, James’ and Davis’ pick-and-roll offense could become downright nasty.

If properly executed, the pick-and-roll offense is a bear to defend.  Add the fact that two of the league’s best players will be running it and opposing defenses could be in for the wrong end of a photo op.  Both these players can pass, both these players can shoot and both these players can leap out of the gym.  Prepare yourselves, NBA fans, for a lot of oohs and aahs.  They’re a’comin’.

I’d be downright shocked if Frank Vogel’s Laker game plan didn’t feature a heavy dose of pick-and-roll and why wouldn’t it?  He’s not reinventing the wheel.  You have two of the best finishers in the league and a fan base that’s been thirsting for dunks and more importantly wins.

Just because the play is simple in design, however, doesn’t mean it doesn’t require discipline every time it’s executed.  These two have the wherewithal, however, to make this an indispensable part of Showtime 2.0.  I’m no Lakers fan but I’ll be damned if I’m not looking forward to seeing what these two can do.

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6 Replies to “LeBron, AD and the indefensible pick-and-roll”

  1. I can’t fucking wait.

    We gave up a lot, but AD will be the cornerstone after LBJ is gone, so it was worth it. Rob dropped the ball on keeping a max slot open, but he’s working on that. Hopefully it’s addressed but that was a major oversight.
    Kawhi & Kyrie are the only ones I’d want max out. Probably Jimmy or Kemba if they’re willing to come, though I would prefer one of the first two. Of course Kawhi is the ultimate prize. I think D’lo is a good option, but not for a max and probably wants too much $. If he came in at 15 or 20 per might be worth it. Otherwise at PG: get 2 of either Pat Bev, Seth Curry, Rondo, D-Rose or Alex Caruso. SG: 2 of Danny Green, KCP, T-Ross or Reggie Bullock. SF to backup LBJ, 1or 2 of Ariza, Lance, even Shump or Vince because they’re minimum contracts. PF: we already have AD & Kuz so maybe 1 of Marcus Morris, Aminu, Taj or even Melo in a pinch. C: 2 of Brook Lopez, JaVale, Thomas Bryant, DJ or Chandler again if we get desperate. I think Boogie goes to NY to get paid or stays in GS.

    I also like the idea of bringing back familiar faces if the big fish pass.
    I’d love to see former Lakers D’lo, Julius, Brook, JaVale, Ariza, KCP, Lance, Rondo, Caruso, Bullock and then toss in a Danny Green and Seth Curry if we can afford it. Probably a pipe dream, but would be kinda cool to get the band back together.

    We need shooters to open the lane for these two. Kyle Korver is rumored to be getting bought out by Memphis and he’s from LA, so I think we’ll end up with him regardless.

    Lots of options. Just gotta figure out the money.

  2. I did a lot of pickin’ and rollin” back in the day, it just didn’t involve a basketball. I miss those days.

  3. Gettin’ the band back together, huh, Bleed?

    Man, I hope the Magic are able to keep Terrence Ross in Orlando. If you snake him away, that’d be a score.

    Yeah, the max money issue thing is a big deal. How big of a gaffe by the Lakers and Pelinka remains to be seen. I mean, I knew about it before the AD signing. You probably did too. So why didn’t Pelinka? I’m not too sure NOLA is gonna let that slide or is it a league decision.

    Either way, those two will definitely be fun to watch. I wanna see who LeBron woos to play out West.

    Nice night at the draft last night, huh?

  4. That pick and roll had better be unstoppable, because they are going to be the only two guys on the floor in purple and gold.

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