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Metagaming NBA strategies thread.

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Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#1 » by doclinkin » Fri Oct 2, 2020 9:50 am

wall_glizzy wrote:I'd be interested in talking about the ongoing development of NBA strategy, both in terms of positional fixations ("playmaking wings" seems to be the new one) and possible contrarian approaches which might allow us to get surplus value from signing certain out-of-fashion player/positional archetypes and/or allow us to exploit more widely-adopted "modern" strategies. We'll leave it for a future thread!


(From the trade thread discussion on Myles Turner and whether defense shows up as a quantifiable box score stat on ‘shots deterred’)

I’m always up for looking at the shifting game behind the game. Not just the tactics of X’s and O’s In coaching but seeing what inefficiencies are being unexploited in team building and what areas of the game are not being emphasized.

For a while I’ve been banging on about how the rise in 3pt shooting leads to many more rebounds, and that a team that can snatch those boards and score with a 50%+ 2pt efficiency will be able to manage and control the outside gunning streaky pace and space strategy.

Then the Bucks and Spurs began emphasizing the methodology. And Kawhi won a chip with the North doing exactly that.

With 3pt shooting you get a chance to win even if you’re the lesser team. Any squad can get hot. But interior scoring is more reliable. Even the best outside gunning team still misses 6 out of 10 shots.

Now. Those are long bounces. You need decent rebounders at all positions. Or a dominant rebounder who Hoover’s boards outside of their area. You need smart box outs by all players. Yes, teams with tall rangy active outside defenders who force a miss on that 3pt shot will have an advantage. As will any team with Giannis. Kawhi. Who can snatch that board on either side of the game and also score unstoppably from the midrange.

Teams have begun to notice. The Rockets yearly flame out on Moreyball ended up jettisoning their last couple coaches. The teams that have ascended in the playoffs have true Bigs playing a real role.

In fact I suspect we begin to see a new role ascendant. The role of the play making skilled Big. Nuggets. Lakers. Miami. All have sweet passing big men who help direct the action from their gun tower height. People overlook that even the small ball success of the Warriors was captained by a master of the P/R in Draymond who controlled the game from the interior with smart choices and sweet passing.

This is not a new concept. Bill Russell won a double handful of rings running his team from the high post on both ends. European teams commonly have won with the so called Princeton offense that was borrowed from those same Celtics dynasties.

The unicorn you are looking for here is not an outside shooting small ball center who drifts to the outside, but an active, mobile, smart decision maker who passes well from the pivot position. Yes it helps if they can hit a jump shot from the free throw line and out. (Or hey, a skyhook like Kareem. Another forgotten skill.) But it helps more if they can recognize the cutter on a back door. Pass to the aerial lanes on a lob dunk. And make the pinpoint pass to the open sniper on the outside.

And on the other side you need that player to defend like Myles Turner. Not necessarily a dominant rebounder. But a guy who can play defense from the pivot position. That is: he can cover the screen and still recover to block the shot on the interior. Ideally corralling it for his squad. Or when possible swatting it towards the far basket to initiate the break.

I think smart Bigs are the next shiny player that teams will spend for in the arms race. Not stretch Bigs. But passing ones.

Until we get a big man who can teach this play the best place to find them is still Europe. Especially Eastern Europe in particular where the senior Sabonis is revered as a demigod and basketball academies teach fundamentals and passing from infancy.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#2 » by nate33 » Fri Oct 2, 2020 2:21 pm

doclinkin wrote:The unicorn you are looking for here is not an outside shooting small ball center who drifts to the outside, but an active, mobile, smart decision maker who passes well from the pivot position. Yes it helps if they can hit a jump shot from the free throw line and out. (Or hey, a skyhook like Kareem. Another forgotten skill.) But it helps more if they can recognize the cutter on a back door. Pass to the aerial lanes on a lob dunk. And make the pinpoint pass to the open sniper on the outside.

Could Thomas Bryant be that guy? (At least on offense, that is.)

Bryant has always been a sneaky good passer who takes care of the ball. He averages nearly 3 assists per 36 minutes despite being primarily a finisher in our offensive system. And he does so while averaging less than 2 turnovers per 36. All at the age of 22.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#3 » by payitforward » Fri Oct 2, 2020 3:48 pm

Really interesting thinking, doc!! A pleasure to have someone open a new angle (all the moreso given connecting it back Bill Russell!).

nate -- I love your idea for Bryant. That would be a great direction in which to coach him, as you'd still get the individual offensive benefits he supplies, plus you'd be adding value in an area where skill/smarts/hard work make a difference. That would lessen the effects of any defensive deficits he can't shake.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#4 » by payitforward » Fri Oct 2, 2020 9:36 pm

I want to try & understand this with clarity & to ask a question about it. To that end, I've pulled out your concepts (don't think I've left out anything essential -- tho i left out the defensive part for the moment):
doclinkin wrote:...a new role ascendant. The ...play making skilled Big ...an active, mobile, smart decision maker who passes well from the pivot position, ...can recognize the cutter on a back door. Pass to the aerial lanes on a lob dunk. And make the pinpoint pass to the open sniper on the outside. smart Bigs....

Not stretch Bigs. But passing ones... (like...)

--- Bill Russell ...running his team from the high post on both ends.
--- Nuggets. Lakers. Miami... sweet passing big men who help direct the action from their gun tower height....
--- Draymond who controlled the game from the interior with smart choices and sweet passing.

On the "Nuggets, Lakers, Miami" you are talking about Jokic, Davis & Bam, obviously.

Jokic, Bam & Mason Plumlee (also on Denver!) were the top 3 Centers in assists per 40 minutes. Others near the top 10 included Sabonis, Horford, KAT, Marc Gasol, Embiid, Love & Poeltl -- how many of those guys actually fit your paradigm to a significant degree?

More important -- & this is the question I wanted to ask -- who are the undervalued players in the league (&, maybe most important, undervalued prospects in the draft) who qualify well for this new role. It'd be great to find this kind of guy before that role becomes "ascendent."
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#5 » by doclinkin » Fri Oct 2, 2020 10:12 pm

payitforward wrote:I want to try & understand this with clarity & to ask a question about it. To that end, I've pulled out your concepts (don't think I've left out anything essential -- tho i left out the defensive part for the moment):
doclinkin wrote:...a new role ascendant. The ...play making skilled Big ...an active, mobile, smart decision maker who passes well from the pivot position, ...can recognize the cutter on a back door. Pass to the aerial lanes on a lob dunk. And make the pinpoint pass to the open sniper on the outside. smart Bigs....

Not stretch Bigs. But passing ones... (like...)

--- Bill Russell ...running his team from the high post on both ends.
--- Nuggets. Lakers. Miami... sweet passing big men who help direct the action from their gun tower height....
--- Draymond who controlled the game from the interior with smart choices and sweet passing.

On the "Nuggets, Lakers, Miami" you are talking about Jokic, Davis & Bam, obviously.

Jokic, Bam & Mason Plumlee (also on Denver!) were the top 3 Centers in assists per 40 minutes. Others near the top 10 included Sabonis, Horford, KAT, Marc Gasol, Embiid, Love & Poeltl -- how many of those guys actually fit your paradigm to a significant degree?

More important -- & this is the question I wanted to ask -- who are the undervalued players in the league (&, maybe most important, undervalued prospects in the draft) who qualify well for this new role. It'd be great to find this kind of guy before that role becomes "ascendent."



MGasol and PGasol used to both be solid in this game. Playing with Spain they ran with Rudy and Navarro and all as distributing Bigs. In the draft I look for Bigs who post a smattering of assists along with steals and defensive boards. That is how I tabbed Xavier Tillman as a freshman. He's got the right heads-up software.

As for the above: Horford absolutely did. As did his college teammate Joakim Noah. Now they are older. I'd hire any of those 4 to the bench or as player-coach for a year.

Sabonis of course since he is his daddy's son, but while he rebounds quite well, I'm unconvinced on his show-and-recover skill on defense. Poetl is a Spurs player. So he has a fundamentally sound skillset. But with Spurs I am always suspicious why Pop would let them go if they are any good. He is decent, so Pop won't.

KAT is simply a relic of getting so many touches. I don't think he lives and breathes the game.

I'm still looking at college prospects. Other than XTsr, no one jumps out this year.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#6 » by wall_glizzy » Fri Oct 2, 2020 10:31 pm

Love it - I've been banging on the "playmaking big" drum for a while now (and in no small part because of my secondary Nuggets fandom).

Speaking of my personal dead horses, let me once again bring up Harry Giles as being exactly the sort of undervalued guy that we should be kicking the tires on for this role. Stuck in a bad situation for the duration of his rookie contract, a more-than-adept playmaker despite limited minutes and an offensive system that's in no way concerned with facilitation from bigs, and, if not world-beating as a rim protector, at least physically gifted enough to imagine the ability coming along if he lands with the right team and buys in.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#7 » by Ruzious » Fri Oct 2, 2020 10:59 pm

I got nothing from the current college crop. Too bad Cameron Krutwig isn't an NBA level athlete. https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/cameron-krutwig-1.html
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#8 » by payitforward » Sat Oct 3, 2020 12:08 am

wall_glizzy wrote:Love it - I've been banging on the "playmaking big" drum for a while now (and in no small part because of my secondary Nuggets fandom).

Speaking of my personal dead horses, let me once again bring up Harry Giles as being exactly the sort of undervalued guy that we should be kicking the tires on for this role. Stuck in a bad situation for the duration of his rookie contract, a more-than-adept playmaker despite limited minutes and an offensive system that's in no way concerned with facilitation from bigs, and, if not world-beating as a rim protector, at least physically gifted enough to imagine the ability coming along if he lands with the right team and buys in.

Giles has one awful flaw so far -- he fouls at an extremely high rate. He also turns the ball over too much, but the fouls absolutely kill him.

edit: couple more problems. He is completely incapable of shooting the 3; I mean not at all. & he shoots a poor FT %. Too many problems; he wouldn't be (well... isn't) able to stay on the court.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#9 » by Dark Faze » Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:39 pm

I'd like to see more gambles and strategies to hide our defensive limitations this year. Zone, box and 1, whatever. It's fairly clear we're going to be atrocious playing man or a traditional switching defense. At least with zone teams will be obliged to try to bomb us out, and I'd rather live with a team being hot or cold from three rather than getting easy looks at the rim all year.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#10 » by doclinkin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:38 pm

Dark Faze wrote:I'd like to see more gambles and strategies to hide our defensive limitations this year. Zone, box and 1, whatever. It's fairly clear we're going to be atrocious playing man or a traditional switching defense. At least with zone teams will be obliged to try to bomb us out, and I'd rather live with a team being hot or cold from three rather than getting easy looks at the rim all year.



We are not terribly far from being a decent defensive team. I'd say we are perhaps 2 players plus a bit of depth away from solid. And yeah some coaching, both in schemes and use of the personnel we do have. But it is possible one of the 2 players we need is already on the team.

Consider that after we shipped IT we went from deadlast (and historically terrible) to middle of the league in most defensive measures. This suggests that simply being able to apply pressure on the outside will assist a guy like Bryant on the interior. His stats in particular jumped when we got competent play outside. And he is still improving. His play in the bubble suggested that he took to heart criticism of his game and showed solid improvement in his activity on both ends, posting an average of ~18 points 9 boards, 2 blocks, 1.5 steals (with improved shooting from outside as well). Yes we lost more than we won. But we also were playing without any starters other than Bryant. Even a rusty John Wall should be an improvement from Thomas. Hopefully he has learned a ton from watching the game as an assistant coach, basically. He was a former all-defense PG, can he improve on technique where he has lost on athleticism? Is a repaired Wall-minus IT an upgrade from a SHabazz/Ish combo? Unknown. We will be bigger though, and bigger plus effort and smarts go a long way on defense.

In addition, we can see development from other players such as Isaac Bonga who have proven to be solid glue type players and a solid defender of positions 1-4. I have high hopes for Bonga, his game is unusual, raw, but advanced in many ways considering his age. The way I see it, simply by working on his outside shot and catch and shoot jumper, I think he can prove to be a key player on both ends. His development on offense, helps our defense.

Points tend to be what earn a player minutes on every team in the league, so simply by Bonga working with David Adkins and our player development team to expand his offensive game, we will improve on defense simply by him being able to stay on the floor. Ultimately he needs to work with Beal on that screen and shoot game (give and go, pick and pop, fake hand off roll, etc). He is such a solid decision maker that he is one of the players I look to as a potential secondary offensive captain. He will be overlooked by players chasing Beal or Bertans trying to prevent them from getting loose outside, if he can add a bit of muscle to set hard screens and be used as a primary pick setter then he can be a solid weapon in pick and roll games on the wing. On defense he looks awkward but is so long and knows how to play the angles like a soccer player, to cut off penetration and easy shots simply by taking up space and forcing the attacker to where they are less comfortable. If Bonga can develop to a true swingman role on offense (2-4 depending on match-ups offense/defense) then we have depth developing right there.

What he does need is someone behind him to grab those missed shots and intimidate players who do penetrate. A fierce true rebounding/rim defending PF would improve the utility of both Bryant, Bonga, and Bertans. We measure Bertans against a true PF, but he plays as a perimeter gunner. Basically a 2-3 swingman himself on offense. On defense he lacks the muscle to rebound in traffic or intimidate, but he plays smart and anticipates well. If we have players behind him and next to him who can make up for his shortfalls, he becomes an asset on both ends. As a 6'10" SG/SF he needs only stand up tall and move his feet to make it tough to shoot over him. If he gets beat we need someone behind him who can make a stand.

The real question mark for me is Rui. The team sees him as a SF, which makes sense I suppose since his face-up game is more advanced. He has a ways to go before he is a solid defender at any position though, but at least the learning curve there isn't as steep and the role isn't as critical as is the interior mobile defender we need at PF/C.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#11 » by nate33 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:04 pm

I'm not buying the talk that Rui is a SF. Players almost always settle into the biggest position they can physically manage. SG/SF's become SF's. SF/PF's become PF's. Rui will be a PF, at least in the respect that he will defend PF's on most nights.
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#12 » by doclinkin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:52 pm

nate33 wrote:I'm not buying the talk that Rui is a SF. Players almost always settle into the biggest position they can physically manage. SG/SF's become SF's. SF/PF's become PF's. Rui will be a PF, at least in the respect that he will defend PF's on most nights.


Yes and no for me on this one. Defense nowadays, in an NBA that allows for zones etc. is less about one on one match-ups and more about reading the space. The closer you are to the basket the more true this becomes. Rui does alright when you can put him on a Giannis and tell him his sole job is to mark him hard and stay in front of him, put a body on him or play inside his footwork. He doesn't do so well if he has to adjust to multiple angles of attack and recognize breakdowns etc.

Also he does not instinctively box out or fill lanes or anticipate angles on rebounds etc. Maybe this improves with experience, maybe with coaching, but so far it is not instinctive. As an SF he will be asked more often to simply stick on his man or guard his area on a switch. Until he can be a plus rebounder and clog attack lanes he will be useless defensively as a PF.

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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#13 » by doclinkin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:11 pm

Funny WizKev Secretweapon has him as an Aaron Gordon doppleganger. Or possibly Jabari Parker.

https://www.bulletsforever.com/2020/10/18/21521178/hachimura-wizards-doppelganger-machine
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Re: Metagaming NBA strategies thread. 

Post#14 » by nate33 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:26 pm

doclinkin wrote:
nate33 wrote:I'm not buying the talk that Rui is a SF. Players almost always settle into the biggest position they can physically manage. SG/SF's become SF's. SF/PF's become PF's. Rui will be a PF, at least in the respect that he will defend PF's on most nights.


Yes and no for me on this one. Defense nowadays, in an NBA that allows for zones etc. is less about one on one match-ups and more about reading the space. The closer you are to the basket the more true this becomes. Rui does alright when you can put him on a Giannis and tell him his sole job is to mark him hard and stay in front of him, put a body on him or play inside his footwork. He doesn't do so well if he has to adjust to multiple angles of attack and recognize breakdowns etc.

Also he does not instinctively box out or fill lanes or anticipate angles on rebounds etc. Maybe this improves with experience, maybe with coaching, but so far it is not instinctive. As an SF he will be asked more often to simply stick on his man or guard his area on a switch. Until he can be a plus rebounder and clog attack lanes he will be useless defensively as a PF.



It's not so much the position he plays. I agree that position designation is less relevant in an era of switching and zone defense. I'm just saying he is likely to be the second biggest guy on the floor for the most part. That makes him a PF or a "4" on the organization chart. He will play alongside one guy who will be bigger, slower, and probably less skilled (our center, or "5") and 3 guys who are smaller, faster, and probably more skilled.

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