Right Play Wednesday: Jokic Exploits, Lakers’ Passing, & Conservative Chris Paul

Make sure to check out our previous Right Play Wednesday post to keep up with all of our favorite plays from each week this NBA season.

Jokic Exploits the Warriors, but Who is at Fault?

In episode 3 of Sense and Scalability, we talk a bit about different pick-and-roll coverages. Against the Nuggets, the Warriors opt to hedge meaning that Looney (the center guarding Jokic) needs to stop Barton’s attack and recover to Jokic.

However, there seems to be a miscommunication between Looney and Bazemore because both start recovering to Jokic on the catch. Jokic, being the brilliant passer that he is, exploits that single second of a mistake to whip a pass to Campazzo in the corner. Lee recovers for a solid contest, but it probably isn’t his job. I’m not sure what the Warriors’ scheme is, so it’s tough to determine which of Looney or Bazemore was in the wrong. – Cody Houdek

Passing Brilliance from the Lakers Leads to a Layup

This play blows my mind because the Lakers are able to create a layup without any player driving inside of the arc. It’s no secret that LeBron is brilliant, but all he needs to start this action is for Adams to hedge against the pick-and-roll between Bron and Trez. With just a sliver of space, he whips a pass to the corner forcing the already moving defense to shift again.

Furthermore, Morris takes advantage by upping LeBron by one-touching a Bird-esque pass to an open Trez. The pass is just far enough to avoid Adams’ outstretched hand, but close enough that Adams thinks he can steal it.

Somehow, the Lakers create the easiest half-court shot without any passers entering the three-point line. – Cody Houdek

The Point God Avoids Taking a Risk

Chris Paul’s all-time assist mix is filled with a dazzling display of lob passes, pick-and-roll feeds, and general passing wizardry. However, one critique leveled at him revolves around his rather conservative passing.

“His assist numbers and highlight passes might create the appearance that he’s a flawless passer, but he takes fewer risks than the greats…”

Backpicks GOAT #21: Chris Paul, Ben taylor

This play perfectly illustrates his lack of a hyper-aggressive passing game seen from all-time passers. For a brief moment, Paul has Booker wide open under the basket. Even though Morant is closing in and has the speed to make that steal, this is the kind of pass that you want to see your primary creator make: high risk/high reward. You can clearly see that Paul notices that Booker is open, but his type-A control of the game leads him to making the less risky but still right play to the open Ayton on the perimeter. – Cody Houdek

Connaughton Pulls Off a Greatest to Holiday

Right now, the Lakers have the best net rating in the NBA which is hovering right around +11. When people talk about “winning plays,” they mathematically mean plays that eke out any extra points/100 possessions that wouldn’t otherwise be there. 

Consider this Connaughton save. Had he not hustled to save the ball to Holiday, Lopez’s airball would’ve effectively been a turnover. Instead, Connaughton changes a play worth 0 points into one worth an almost guaranteed 2. Since Milwaukee and Brooklyn both use a shade over 100 possessions a game, Connaughton saving the ball like this is effectively worth +2 points/100 possession (for these 100 possessions at least). In a league where winners are determined at the margins, these sorts of off-ball, right plays are extraordinarily valuable. – Cody Houdek

Patrick Williams: Budding Midrange Wizard

Patrick Williams may have been a surprise selection at 4th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft to some. To others, he was a young, versatile, athletic wing who showed flashes of advanced shot creation and playmaking ability, and a keen sense of positioning on both ends in his lone season at Florida State. However, I think even the most ardent Patrick Williams supporters are impressed by his rookie season up to this point. In particular, I wanted to highlight Pat’s midrange game this week.

Pat has shown both the proclivity and the ability to score effectively in midrange isolation situations this year. Similar to other breakout wing creators in the past (Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum are a few notable examples) Pat has scored off a variety of long two point attempts. Whether it be attacking closeouts or creating off the dribble in P&R, he has demanded defensive attention. Even then, his footwork, his ability to combine dribble moves, and the high arc and relatively quick release of his shot make him difficult to guard.

Pat is taking most of his shots in this area, and with slight biomechanical refinements and more time to acclimate, I believe he can convert his success here to success on a more diverse diet of three point looks. If he can stretch the shot out, his gravity will warp defenses and create easier looks for his teammates. Having a pullup midrange or, better yet, a pullup three in the toolkit unlocks his ability to attack off the dribble and makes Pat an absolute nightmare to defend, and he’s only just getting started. – Evan Zaucha

Xavier Tillman is Awesome

I know I know this isn’t some galaxy brain take! As someone who spent undergrad time at Michigan State and followed Tillman’s career at State, I was shocked to see him fall to the second round. I and others with even better draft knowledge and comprehension than myself are in bliss. Xavier Tillman is a good player, who knew? The Grizzlies are currently +10.8 pp/100 with Tillman on the floor.

The Grizzlies have won 5 straight games, bumping them to a 7-6 record and tied for 7th in the West. Xavier Tillman’s all around game has played a significant factor in bolstering a Memphis team bereft of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant for the majority of the season.

Tillman isn’t flashy, but he just does the little things so well. He processes the court remarkably well, has a solid handle, and is a smart playmaker for himself and teammates. Often, Tillman finds himself a mismatch on a slower big and will take them to the rim ASAP, where he shoots 70% per Cleaning the Glass.

When Tillman gets an opportunity to post up on a smaller man, That’s All She Wrote, (Yes, I hear this in my head when Tillman gets a post mismatch why do you ask?).

However, my absolute favorite part of Tillman’s offensive game; his floater.

Seriously though, Tillman is a player who exhibits the value of even just screening. He is incredibly strong with a great base, but his intuition to angle his screens to most benefit the ballhandler is something that you might not notice on first watch.

Xavier Tillman is a really fun player who provides tremendous value on both sides of the court. Draft Twitter and the Grizzlies scouting department stay winning. – Mark Schindler

We hope you enjoyed Right Play Wednesday! Let us know what you think! What were your favorite plays or observations this week?

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