Last year Jordan Kahn (@AyoItsJordan) was a staple of the basketball coverage here at Hickory-High with a series of masterful video playbook pieces breaking down all sorts of NBA nuances. Jordan may be back occasionally this season but has also moved on to contribute at Bullets Forever and the brand-new site, HoopChalk. This leaves a void in our video breakdown department, one that I will be clumsily attempting to fill.
I would humbly posit that most of my meager strengths in the basketball analysis department lie in the statistical realm. Actually watching a basketball game often leaves me with an incomplete understanding of the true narrative thread, and only by combing through the box score can I really fill in the gaps. These video pieces will be a learning experience for me, both in breaking down the plays and on the technical side of actually creating and annotating the videos. Hopefully, as I go through this learning process there will be some value for you, the reader, as well. I thought a good place to get a jump on this new project would be with Tony Parker‘s game-winner against the Thunder last night.
After Kawhi Leonard created a turnover at the other end of the floor, the Spurs came out of a timeout with the ball and 5.7 seconds left to create an open shot for the win.
As Boris Diaw inbounds the ball to Danny Green at the top of the arc, Parker is already moving along the baseline, dragging Russell Westbrook towards a Stephen Jackson screen under the basket. Westbrook has given Parker a ton of space and appeared to have responsibility for face guarding Parker, keeping him from popping out to receive the ball beyond the three-point line.
As the play develops, Jackson doesn’t actually screen Westbrook, instead giving him a bump as he passes through and stepping back to try and make himself available in the lane. It looks like the plan was to have Diaw continue towards the lane and screen Westbrook, with Parker continuing to curl out towards the wing. Westbrook makes this action moot by allowing his head to get turned, focusing on Danny Green with the ball at the top of the key. Seeing a completely empty weakside, Westbrook loses Parker and moves back towards the wing to help corral any attempt at penetration by Green.
Green, of course, makes no move towards the basket leaving Westbrook to guard ten square feet of empty space. Parker has continued curling around and receives the pass from Green just behind a down screen from Tim Duncan on Kendrick Perkins.
Parker is able to take one dribble to his left, finding space behind Duncan for the jumpshot. Serge Ibaka has been sticking close to Diaw along the baseline, and is a step late closing out.
The result is more then enough space for Parker to knock down the jumpshot. Here’s the play in real time:
The Thunder defense did nothing to bump the Spurs off, and the play seems to have been executed exactly as it was drawn up. The really confusing piece is where and what Westbrook was supposed to be doing. Even if he was responsibility was be face-guarding Parker at the beginning of the play, the amount of space he gave up put him at a huge disadvantage. He may have been taken out of the action anyway by either the Jackson or Diaw screens, but losing Parker completely to focus on Green and unoccupied space seems like the inexcusable fatal error here. It’s possible I’m missing something here, but I would assume Westbrook will have a few fingers pointed at him during any Thunder video sessions today.
Because of the Knicks/Nets cancellation this was the only game played last night, and I’m sure some other sites will be breaking down this play as well. Keep an eye on 48 Minutes of Hell, NBA Playbook and HoopChalk to see if anyone has a different take on Westbrook’s defensive lapse.