Right Play Wednesday: Horton-Tucker Using One Hand, Curry Missing a Lob Pass, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, and KZ Okpala

This week’s Right Play Wednesday includes one-handed wizardry from Horton-Tucker, Holiday’s defensive mastery, the Jazz’s whirring offense, Jokic’s defensive positioning, and Draymond’s lob-passing ability. Make sure to check out all our previous Right Play Wednesdays:

Talen Horton-Tucker: Ambidextrous Wizardry

Excitement for Talen Horton-Tucker was high earlier in the season as he flashed some exciting moxie off the bench.

While his numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, some of his plays surely require a double-take. In the first play of this video, Horton-Tucker throws an early candidate for one of my favorite assists of the season. As a natural righty, he whips an off-the-bounce, left-handed pass to Trez towards whom Doumbouya is closing. It doesn’t make any sense how he’s able to slip that pass in that small crevasse, and even though he’s young, this is the sort of play that shows a strong feel for the game.

The second play just furthers Horton-Tucker’s craftiness. Premium Hoops scholar Evan often says that teams need to get a little weird sometimes, and this is the kind of play that shows the weird quirks that can set apart players. – Cody Houdek

Jrue Holiday Switching and Communicating

As a newbie to the Bucks’ roster, it was clear that Holiday was going to bring a strong and smart defensive presence to the Bucks. In this play, he flexes multiple facets that make him an All-Defensive player. First, he hounds the man he replaced around a couple of screens. As soon as Bledsoe gets the step, Holiday clearly communicates the switch to the dropped Lopez before switching on Melli who is a solid 8 inches taller than Bledsoe. 

With the clock winding down, Holiday knows Melli is going to shot, but instead of contesting the taller player, he uses his cat-like paw to ninja strip Melli before the ball is even in his shooting pocket. Just an all-around brilliant defensive play. – Cody Houdek

Every possession is a battle between the offense and defense trying to force the other to make a mistake, and the Jazz’s whirling ball-movement preys upon weak defenses. Any time there’s an open dunk or layup, look for the defense’s mistake. In this play, the Mavericks make two. 

Remember the Holiday play from 10 seconds ago? Well, Doncic and Johnson show no such proclivity to communicate. At no point during this play do either acknowledge that they both shouldn’t double Bogdanovic to allow Gobert a wide open runway to the basket. 

Secondly, check out Hardaway Jr. just watching the whole play unfold. The reason he’s helping off in the paint instead of face-guarding the corner is to…well, help. He has more than enough time to disrupt the lob especially since the pass is below the rim. We discuss the importance of secondary rim protection in Sense and Scalability, but the Mavericks don’t need Giannis to help in this play. – Cody Houdek

Nikola Jokic Knows Where to be, but to What Effect?

“Ahh, but Jokic isn’t that bad at defense,” said the moustache twirling NBA Twitter personality. There’s always something about his hands brought up. The truth is that Jokic is a fundamentally strong rotator, but he lacks the tools to weaponize that intelligence.

Take this play for instance. He drops perfectly to prevent the drive from DeRozan and the roll from Poeltl. He’s also prepared to leap and contest DeRozan’s shot before quickly rotating to meet Johnson at the rim. However, Jokic is no Gobert. Players are shooting just about the same percentage at the rim when Jokic is defending showing that his physical gifts don’t match his reading of the game. – Cody Houdek

Draymond Shows Curry How to Throw a Lob

Stephen Curry is a nuclear bomb of a scorer, but as a passer, he’s not at the same level of other mega creators like LeBron and Doncic. Hence, Draymond’s passing ability elevates Curry’s skillset, and these back-to-back plays illustrate this. 

In the first play, Curry runs a pick-and-roll with Wiseman who, if anything, has showcased an impressive penchant for diving and finishing at the rim. Curry does not take advantage of the space the Pistons are giving Wiseman. I mean, look at that! Curry misses a couple of beats worth of throwing a lob, a bounce, or even a header.

In the next literal offensive possession, Draymond finds Wiseman in a similar situation, and he capitalizes on both of their strengths. To be a fantastic passer, one has to take risks, and this play shows the differentiation between Curry and Draymond. – Cody Houdek

KZ Okpala Showing Flashes

Miami Heat sophomore forward, KZ Okpala, got some extended run with the Heat over the past week as they continue to struggle with injury. While Okpala has drawn the eye of many a Heat fan with the #FreeKZ movement, he’s still a work in progress. That being said, he popped quite a few times on tape for me this past week, utilizing his length well on defense and getting out well in transition.

This drive and finish in a close game against the Clippers in which Okpala started most impressed me.

It’s not anything flashy or sexy, but this play sums up for me the importance of Okpala moving forward for the Heat, or at least a player like him. I personally didn’t expect Miami to miss Jae Crowder as much as they have, an error on my part. Moe Harkless hasn’t found a consistent role in the gaudy frat paint party jerseys and Meyers Leonard just underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.

If KZ Okpala is going to find a footing with the Heat, now’s the time.

The Heat have a lot of players who can shoot and a lot of players who can play defense with length, but lack players who can consistently do both. If Okpala can continue to be guarded out to the three-point line while occasionally exploiting an overplay and taking his man off the bounce like he did to Marcus Morris Sr. like he did here, he’ll earn a consistent spot in the Heat rotation or at least should. – Mark Schindler

Keldon “Hog” Johnson

Rather than writing about these plays separately I have decided to compile this game here from Keldon Johnson into two separate clips. One being what he did offensively, and the other being his defense. All these plays occured in last Wednesday night’s matchup vs the Boston Celtics, and particularly I want to highlight the 2nd quarter stretch where he sparked a massive San Antonio turn around. 

After a quiet first quarter, Keldon checked back into this game at the 6:29 mark of the 2nd quarter with the Spurs down 9, immediately giving San Antonio life on both ends of the court. By the time half time rolled around the Spurs had a 14 point lead, a 23 point turn around, and it all started with Keldon. He was tasked with guarding the red hot and perennial All-Star in Jaylen Brown and quite frankly, locked him up in their isolation matchups. Even switched on to Jayson Tatum at times and did a good job on him.

On the offensive end, Keldon went hard to the rim repeatedly, but yet under control at all times. Which is what is so special about KJ, he is built so strong and he attacks the rim so hard but you get the feeling he’s never out of control. All of his steps and his final gather are smooth and deliberate, you add in the great touch around the rim and you get results like these. – Nate Georgy

Floater God, Immanuel Quickley

It looks like the New York Knicks found themselves a great steal at #25 in this season’s draft, with Immanuel Quickley. Without getting too deep into the weeds of his game, let’s just highlight the incredible touch he has in the short mid/floater range. 

As of February 2nd, Quickley has attempted 36% of his shot attempts for floater range this season. That ranks in the 92nd percentile among point guards, and while the shots aren’t falling at an elite rate, this shows how comfortable and willing he is to attempt a very valuable shot.

Just check out this floater over the 7”6 wingspan of Jarrett Allen. Such a great tool to have especially for small guards.

Against the Los Angeles Clippers, Quickley put on a floating clinic. Note how he keeps trailing defenders on his hips very well, much like a veteran. – Nate Georgy

Thank you for checking out Right Play Wednesday! We’ve really enjoyed starting up this series and would love your feedback on it!

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