Friday, November 14, 2008

Keys to offensive efficiency

John Schuhmann has a good article over on about the offensive efficiency of the Utah Jazz, who scored "115.6 points per 100 possessions" last season.

Schuhmann credits that efficiency to Jerry Sloan's system. According to his article:

At every NBA game, you will find several advance scouts (employed by other teams) sitting courtside, watching the coaches call plays and charting the ensuing action on the floor. That information is passed on to the scouts' own employer. This allows defenses, upon hearing the play call, to (figuratively) cheat defensively and take away what the offense is trying to do.

Sloan wants his opponent to hear his play calls.

The Jazz run a lot of their offense out of a one-four set, where the point guard brings the ball up, the two bigs are at the elbows, and the two wings are in line with the bigs, near the sidelines. There are plays where the first pass goes to the wings and there are plays where the first pass goes to a big.

And with each of those plays, there are a myriad of options that can be run on the fly, depending on how the defense is playing. So, if the defense hears Sloan make the call and overplays to where they think the ball is going, the Jazz will just counter it and get an open shot elsewhere.

"If you think you've stopped one thing," says new acquisition Brevin Knight, "we've got something else to go to that's off that same play."

Jazz guard Ronnie Price (above with Coach Sloan) says the structure allows players to "know where everyone's going to be on the court, so you know where to get guys the ball, and you know where guys are supposed to be. It's just making reads and common-sense basketball reads that you're taught to make when you're a little kid. It's just that we pretty much do it every time down the court.""

According to Coach Sloan: "They just can't go out on their own because nobody has any idea of what's going on when they do that. That makes it difficult for everybody."

Kyle Korver says spacing is a key the Utah's offensive success, explaining that the Jazz "run a lot of motion sets, not a lot of one-on-one, a lot of screens, a lot of cutting, a lot of movement. I'm not necessarily getting wide-open shot after wide-open shot, but I help create spacing, I keep the middle open, and that's where we're really trying to attack all the time. You need to have the people to space the floor for that to work, and that's where I come in."

Carlos Boozer boils it down to two elements:

"We have to set screens and we have to pass the ball. Basically, if you're willing to set screens and pass the ball, [the system] can work for anybody."