doclinkin wrote:doclinkin wrote:We might be better, but the team has been a long time on the treadmill of mediocrity. Unless you think otherwise. If we catch lightning in a bottle with this crew and all the moves work out as we can only hope, do you still see this team winning the Eastern Conference championship? If so I'd like to see the case for it. Shoot:
Outside/Inside, motion, depth. The ineffable, chemistry.
Beal at his best, off motion and screens, has hit .400+ 3 of 9 seasons.
He did so most recently with Bojan Bogdanovic and Otto Porter each also hitting .400 or thereabouts. John Wall averaged 7 free throws a game, 10 assists with so many options to kick it to.
We won 49 games, good for 4th in the EC.
Beat the Hawks, took the Celtics to game 7 in the semis.
John Wall had a career year, Beal was coming into his strength and confidence. Otto played 80 games healthy.
Otherwise, aside from Marcin Gortat setting solid screens, we had not much of consequence going for us.
Still, outside shooting from 3 positions, solid screens and picks at the top of the key, the middle wide open for the pick and roll game for Wall/Gortat, was the recipe for success. If we are making a case for a successful run this year, that seems to be the formula. Hot shooting from outside, pick and roll chemistry between guards and bigs, free throws to stop the clock, and stop any runs, foul out opposing starters, keep us in games late. Do we have enough of each?
Since this is a thought experiment imagining success, I am cherry picking the stats that make the players look best.
Beal: Shooting .404 when he is on court with shooters who draw attention.
Bertans: career .400 3FG, shooting 8/game in Washington. Deadly off ball and in motion.
KCP: .410 last year, avg 4/ game stand still shooter, hot from both corners..
Kuzma: .361 last year, avg 5.5/game, best in motion with catch & shoot skill.
Rui: playoffs this year: was the .600 3FG a total fluke? or small sample size at 3/game. Consistency will be key, but hopeful.
Bryant: above .400 in Washington, 2/game
Holiday: career .375, avg 3/game
Kispert: .440 at Gonzaga, senior year. 6.5/game
Neto: .400, .390 in DC
Holiday: career .372. .390 during his best year.
IIRC even 6'10" Isaiah Todd had a string of smooth shooting games late in the G-League season.
In any configuration we can put shooters in the wings and with the ball. We have sufficient depth that on any given night one guy should be hot enough to keep us in the game. Yeah we will have to get them the ball, and don't have top-notch passers at every position, but still, on any given play someone who can shoot is bound to be open. That opens up the middle for the others. Ironically now we have the standstill shooters that Westbrook was looking for in the corners all year. But most shoot well even in motion, teams will get tired trying to chase and keep up with them. And if we get tired running patterns, we can re-fresh the position with the next guy.
If the current version of Beal can hit the 3 like he has in the past on top of the rest of his game. Well, yeah, then he may hit Hibachi status. Dangerous all over the court. Outside and in:
ATTACK THE LANES/FOUL THEM OUT:
Beal: avgs about 8 FT's a game the last 2 years
Dinwiddie: 7FTA's last time he was seen healthy
Montrezl Harrell: over 5FTA/ game his last 2 years with the Clips
Trez is a pain for Bigs to handle when he gets the ball in the pick and roll. Beal and Dinwiddie require so much attention with the ball in their hands that teams who show hard or try to trap the ball handler will be left scrambling to catch up when Harrell attacks with determination.
Ballhandling is our shallowest position, especially with Dinwiddie recovering from injury. Still he and Beal can trade off the on-ball attack. Beal tends to play long minutes. Maybe we get something from Holiday/WInston. Winston on offense is skilled in the motion game, getting teammates open with misdirection and hesitation moves. Teammates can learn fundamentals from him even if he proves too foot-slow to keep up on court. He was a terrible fit on a Westbrook team, but in a motion scheme he has the right sense of spacing/timing and may get a 2nd look by coach Wes.
We can also look to secondary playmaking by smart Bigs out of screens and picks. Deni showed flashes, and Harrell is an underrated passer in this role:
PICK AND ROLL THREATS
Beal and DWiddie are a lethal attack from the outside in. Players hack and chase when they get beat by them. If you can force opponents to foul you, you can stay in any game. The ones who will help them spring loose are the Big guys, who look to be a dangerous threat in this function:
Gafford: above 60% inside 10 feet, FG 66% on pick and roll plays
Trez: 74% on pick and roll plays, getting fouled about 25% of the time
Bryant is less efficient out of the pick and roll, since he has to gather himself to get momentum and lacks stop/start quick twitch speed. His defenders can catch up. However he is stellar once he is already in motion on a catch and finish off the ball:
CUT EM DOWN BIGS
Bryant: scored 81% on cuts to the basket, for 16% of his offense. He was fouled on his cuts 22% of the time.
Gafford: 77% on cuts, accounting for 30% of his offense
Trez: 71% on cuts, accounting for almost 25% of his plays.
All of our bigs cover a ton of ground when they aggressively slice to the hoop.
We lack scoring on cuts out of the wing or guard positions, no SF with great hands and hops. The closest we've got is:
Rui: 61% on cuts, accounting for 11% of his offense. But this is only the 39th percentile league wide.
What looks like redundancy with an odd man out may actually prove a strength for us. Bigs tend to foul more than other players since the action is funneled towards them. When one sits there is another waiting, each with a different strength. And all play with pace and activity. Bryant is recovering from injury but runs hard end to end, Gafford gets gassed since he jumps all over the court, Trez plays aggressive. We lead the league in high activity Bigs. If we can force opponent bigs to foul out trying to chase and keep up with this corps, then we further soften up the interior for DInwiddie and Beal.
To sum up:
On Offense, motion on the perimeter forces defenses to chase, or spring free accurate shooters.
Opportunistic ball handlers can find gaps and seams to slice past over-eager defenders.
Enthusiastic bigs screen off the ball or set hard picks. Bigs roll off picks, cut off screens, attack hard and fast.
Bryant has the option to pick and pop if he is left alone to hit a standstill three.
Our depth in starting calibre players off the bench means we can can feast on opponents second units.
Depth will also tire out teams who rely on their stars. Substitute freely. Run the same sets that work with interchangebale personnel.
Every team runs pick and roll plays, augmented by outside shooting. Pretty standard stuff. Our advantage is that we have a few players who do these things at an elite level. Bertans hitting outside, as a catch and shoot big, drawing opposing bigs from the paint. Beal and Dinwiddie attacking the lanes and forcing contact. Bryant scoring under the basket. Montrezl Harrell attacking the lanes in the pick and roll. Individually each is stoppable, but if we get our timing down and groove it so we can hit the right option each time, we can score over any team in the league.
On Defense we have most of what you need to do well:
one-on-one perimeter defenders in Rui, Bertans, Holiday, KCP.
Rearline intimidation in Gafford.
Rebounding from Bryant and Gafford.
2nd line rebounding from Kuzma, Beal, KCP.
The rest is up to coaching, chemistry, team cohesion. Young veterans all at a similar point in their career, in their prime or reaching their breakthrough years.
And of course the swift maturation to All-star status from one or all of our young players. Players adding aspects to their game we haven't seen yet. A jumper for Trez/Gafford. A low post game for Rui. Deni regaining his game and confidence from overseas championship runs. Bryant returning to the game faster and quicker on defense. Dinwiddie's shot beginning to fall from the midrange and out. Montrezl Harrell says he aims to be an all-star. Improved habits/activity on defense plus a reliable jumper would put him in conversation as a 4/5 instead of undersized center. Shooting is one skill many players develop over time. He has steadily improved his FT shooting, that tends to be the sign of a player putting in the work to improve.
Growth and development, a few lucky breaks, good karma, an off year for the league MVP contenders -- never know, we might just mess around and win a series or two.
Aside from that it does look like we have a foundation to build on, with enough players developing to look pretty good, and enough pieces that a midseason trade could make us look even better. Here the depth is also depth in tradeable assets.
So, we are basically one or two players away. The problem as always is that those players are a healthy Kawhi, this year's Giannis, any year's LeBron. One or two MVPs away from a championship, that's all Still I do like this squad and think they will surprise some teams who think they can overlook us this year. Should be interesting to see how it all comes together.
I could see Deni becoming very good running the offense of the 2nd unit. I think he could be very good with the ball in his hands, taking it to the hoop if left alone, dishing it to a rolling Harrell when the D collapses, or kicking out to an open Bertans, KCP, Holiday/Neto on the perimeter.