This week’s Right Play Wednesday includes Doumbouya beating a couple of All-Defensive players, Giannis’ passing development, and some other plays from the last week of NBA action. Make sure to check back on our previous Right Play Wednesdays.
Doumbouya Slips Through the Defense
Slipping a screen is often cited as the best way to counter a switching defensive scheme. However, 2nd year player Sekou Doumbouya shows the value of reading and reacting with a slip even if the defense doesn’t switch.
Ultimately, I’m not sure who did not make the right play. Simmons is frozen by watching Lee run towards the potential DHO (despite Lee currently shooting 0% from three), and Embiid doesn’t react to the pass until it’s almost above his head. Furthermore, Plumlee has made exactly zero shots from beyond 16 feet this season while boasting an impressive 7.2 passer rating (about 20th in the league).
This is a great play to illustrate the power of constantly moving and keeping the defense on their toes because even members of the All-Defense team are prone to rotation errors. – Cody Houdek
Giannis with Manipulative No-Looks
Even with his assist numbers trending down the last couple of seasons, Giannis’ passing patience and manipulation has improved this season. In the first play, Giannis, while hanging in the air, uses his eyes to fake out De’Andre Hunter. Holiday is shooting 31% on corner threes this year, so Giannis makes the right play by passing to the wide-open Middleton who is shooting 52% on such attempts.
While that play is impressive, it still shows me a concerning trend that Giannis gets himself into by leaving his feet under pressure and wildly whipping a pass. In the context of this Hawks game, it’s one of a couple plays where he shows more patience.
The next three plays all show Giannis engaging in a game of chicken to create a layup or dunk. In the second play, Giannis knows that a combination of Huerter and Reddish aren’t enough to stop him in the paint, so he continues backing himself towards the basket. Instead of kicking it out which the Bucks love to do, he uses the fear of his teammates’ shooting to open the lane for Portis. – Cody Houdek
Dejounte Murray Slowing Down
If you follow me on Twitter, you’re well aware of my affinity for the San Antonio Spurs, Rudy Gay, and athletic wings who play hard! Dejounte Murray has long been one of the more intriguing players to me, and this year he’s starting to put his offensive game together.
Murray, one of the best defensive guards in the league, has been caught between being a lead gaurd and off-guard since entering the league. His shot is falling less from outside this year and he’s below league average true-shooting, BUT he’s taking way more threes and seems way more comfortable letting it fly (19% of his shots are above the break threes compared to 10% last season); One of the first steps in becoming a good three-point shooter is ACTUALLY taking those shots with regularity!
However, we’re not here to talk about his shooting, I actually want to point out some of the areas where Murray is not shooting and how it’s benefitting the Spurs and his game all around.
Dejounte Murray is incredibly quick, with a great first step and loves getting downhill attacking the rim. The quandary; he’s never been a great rim finisher, often taking incredibly tough heavily contested shots.
Often in his first three years, Murray would sky up to try and force a difficult rim attempt. As you can see here, he’s starting to slow down, use his rim gravity to shift the defense, and find the open man.
Through 17 games, Murray is finishing at a 65% clip at the rim (86th %ile), up from 55% last season. He’s coupled that with a cleaned up passing game and more control of the ball; He’s dropped his TOV% by 5% (14.4 – 9.4). By taking less of the difficult rim attempts, stretching his game to the arc more consistenly, and slowing down his frenetic pace, he’s been able to speed up his on court processing and vastly improved as an offensive player. – Mark Schindler
Jarred Vanderbilt Offensive Rebounding
Yes, the Timberwolves are worth watching. Jaden McDaniels is fun, Malik Beasley has been on fire offensively, and most importantly, Jarred Vanderbilt is THE NBA energy guy right now. He has a long ways to go in terms of developing and rounding out his skills, but Vanderbilt has solidifed his place in the league this season after mostly being an afterthought since he was drafted.
If the ball is not going in the hoop, I can promise you, Jarred Vanderbilt is going to crash the glass.
If you are sleeping on the defensive end, Vanderbilt will sky up around you, cut behind you, or utilize his length while jostling for position.
Looks like an easy Draymond board; Jarred Vanderbilt had other thoughts. His second jump is ridiculously quick. He’s able to load up for a jump so quickly after being pushed off balance by Draymond.
In his past 5 games (all starts), Vanderbilt is averaging 10 pts/6.2 boards and 3.2 stocks while corralling 9 offensive rebounds in the last two games. He is neither taking or making threes right now and is a pretty rough free throw shooter, but Vanderbilt has earned a role on this Wolves team.
Vanderbilt has quickly become one of my favorite players to watch. He has a ways to go in terms of becoming a consistent player, but he was put on Steph Curry for stretches against Golden State and has flashed his potential defensive versatility throughout the year. I’m amped to see what he can do playing next to Karl-Anthony Towns when he returns to the lineup. – Mark Schindler
Mike Conley in Control
Mike Conley ghost screens for Donovan Mitchell, receives the ball after Bledsoe switches onto him, drives to the rim, and fakes out both Bledsoe and Steven Adams with the saavy turnaround hook.
I found this play incredibly indicative of the season Mike Conley is having. After a year in which many questioned whether or not he was on the downturn, the 33 year old has restabilzied and found comfortability in his role with the Utah Jazz.
Mountain Mike is currently one of the On/Off champions of the NBA: The Jazz are +27.7pp/100 better with him on court. That’s ridiculous.
He’s averaging the second highest points per shot attempt of his career (1.2), has found the patented floater that was missing last year, and is on pace to tie his best three-point shooting campaign of his career.
The Utah Jazz are freakin good right now, and Mike Conley is a significant reason why.
Tate & Nwaba
What on earth is the point of Right Play Wednesday if we aren’t going to talk about Jae’Sean Tate and David Nwaba?
In 252 possessions, lineups containing Tate and Nwaba are a +35.2 scoring 123 pp/100 offensively (99th %ile) and allowing only 87.8 pp/100 (100th %ile).
Basketball joy is watching Jae’Sean Tate and David Nwaba make defensive rotations, running in transition, and injecting the game with a level of energy and grit that Kyle Lowry undoubtedly admires. I’m not one to sign into the “James Harden basketball is boring,” narrative, but I’m not going to say that somehow this brand of basketball isn’t my personal Nirvana, because that would be a lie.
Here are some of my favorite plays from them this week to force yo- ahem….encourage you to watch the Rockets play in the coming games.
Jae’Sean Tate on Devin Booker in the post fighting for that rebound is comical. These two guys are just insanely fun to watch, and damned good.
Lastly, to close out, rest in peace to Sekou Smith. He’s someone I really looked up to in the NBA journalism/media community. I’d only gotten to speak with him once, but he was an incredible man who was so genuine. That came across tenfold when the news dropped yesterday and every person seemed to have some sort of positive connection with Sekou. Please be safe, wear a mask, and just let people you care for know that you love them. Life is incredibly short even when a day may seem infinite.