Digressions on the Pick and Roll (for @Lulufulu)

  • @Lulufulu

    I believe Ku is running some pick and roll, but then Self has always run it–some times more and some times less.

    Last season we saw it very little, but he did show it.

    Historically, Self has used the pick and roll in a different way than the NBA was once famed for.

    The NBA gravitated to it because of the short shot clock, and because of super centers like Wilt, etc., that could own about 60 degrees of a 10 foot radius around the ball side of the basket and 5 feet radius on the backside 40 degrees. Also, pick and roll action can happen fast, even at the end of a shot clock. And it often triggered a miss match from switching that the great athletes and highly skilled players in the NBA could readily exploit pre-zone era. It minimized turnovers due to low risk passing. And it let you keep a safety back for transition insurance, while crashing two backside rebounders for offensive carom pursuit on every shot. And you really only needed two great offensive players–one ball handling perimeter player, one stretch 4–and a top notch backside outside shooter, plus an enforcer type, or a rim protector, at the 5. Its basically a clear out for two on two basketball with your other three guys doing what I have described above.

    To master the obvious for old guys like me, Stockton and Malone of Utah became over a decade of game practice the definitive pick and roll craftsmen. Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan, descended from the Weber State hard scrabble Dick Motta, rightly understood that in a division with the Lakers, he would never have five, or even four, guys better than the Lakers would have, so he reduced the game as much as possible to two on two at the positions where his team held MUA, or where they were at least even–the one and the four spots.

    Stockton was hard for the Laker’s great guards to handle, as he was for most guards in the NBA. Malone was simply to0 good at the four for everyone. The Mailman was as wide as Thomas Robinson at the shoulders, and just as wide as his shoulders all the way down to his shoelaces. Karl Malone did not need Andrea Hudy. He had the farm. He had hay bales. He had wood to cut. He dug fence post holes, perhaps without a post hole digger. He cleaned and jerked feed bags. He probably lifted a building corner, or two, so one of his brothers could insert another concrete block to get things level. But let’s face it, Karl would have been big as a full sistern, even if he had grown up on Central Park in NYC.

    Karl Malone was IMHO the greatest athletic freak of all time at the 4. Big as he was he could run like a gazelle. If his career had not spanned both the show time Lakers and the Shaquille Lakers he would have been casting shadows instead of living in them. Karl was Larry Bird with a good back and 35 additional pounds, and the same ornery, backwoods disposition. Summer field and French Lick were only separated by some latitude.

    Karl was insanely good. Let’s put this in perspective, even though they played different positions, Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan would have had Karl “helping” on defense with Lebron, and to put it politely, Karl would have HURT Lebron until Lebron agreed to just take his threes from outside like a good city slicker, and leave the paint to Country Karl.

    Karl hurt a lot of people in the NBA. Karl played through the hey day of the gangstah hoopahs without hardly noticing. Karl treated the baddest inner city prison bodies the same way he treated country crackuhs with pillow cases. He was polite and went about his basketball business pretty much like farm chores till they crossed him; then he hurt them. Hurt some of them bad, too. And didn’t regret doing it a lick either. Didn’t care much what color you were. Might have been a little nicer to you if you were from a small town with a sweat stained, scrunch brimmed straw cowboy hat, but otherwise you were just someone that could help with the chores, or someone that had to be hurt for slowing down the chores. Forget the mail. The Mailman delivered pain–Hurtberry RFD.

    Karl grew up in Summerfield, Louisiana; not the bayou town in Grant’s Parrish, elevation 110 feet, but the one in Claiborne Parrish up north on the Arkansas border, where Eddie Sutton, then at UArk, drooled over him for three state championship high school years, before losing Karl to Andy Russo at Louisiana Tech, so Karl could be closer to the farm chores. He worked from a young age on a farm. He was one of nine children. His daddy lived with another woman on another patch of ground and raised children with “the other woman” before killing “hisself.”

    This is the Summerfield legacy Karl grew up in, according to its wiki page.

    “Summerfield was founded in 1868 by W. R. Kennedy. It soon had four general merchandise and plantation supply stores, drug stores, a sawmill, and a gristmill. After its founding, with a population of 120, there were four churches, including Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Methodist Protestant, Missionary Baptist, and Primitive Baptist. The community was known for its school, good drinking water, and land, often available for as little as $5 per acre.”

    Today, Summerfield is described this way by its Wiki page.

    “Summerfield is a very rural community with limited cell phone service and no high speed internet providers.”

    Once they didn’t like revenuers. Now they don’t like geeks bearing dishes and hot spots.

    Its a place where 91F is said to feel like 106F by the weather bureau.

    Get the picture?

    Karl Malone was so powerful he could drive and dunk on anyone, but Shaquille O’Neale and Karl just stepped back and banged treys over 310 pound Shaq. Karl was after all, only a svelte 265 at his thinnest. Karl wasn’t born a good dribbler or shooter. He didn’t even come into the NBA being either. Karl BECAME a great trey shooter while doing his defense and rebounding chores in the NBA, because, well, that was what the basketball chores required in the big city. And he held his own rebounding with Shaq just fine. And he mopped up everyone else on the glass, as if they were a bunch of effeminate, Lou Reed girlie men prattling on about taking a walk on the wild side, while the colored girls went do, da-do, da-do, da-do. Karl never plucked his eye brows and said he was a she. Down in Summerfield, they still think the colored girls sing gospel. And they do. And they don’t call themselves colored girls either. They call themselves Baptists, or Primitive Baptists, or saints, or sinners. None of this do, da-do, da-do stuff in Summerfield, where Karl grew up then, or now, I hear. But I digress on the Great Malone.

    The point is the pick and roll to be done right takes a pretty good guard and a pretty good stretch 4 that don’t scare easy and play as dirty as the opponent requires. The pick and roll is not about finesse. Its not about muscle either. Its about dilemmas. It is about repeatedly confronting an opponent with a dilemma. You recall a dilemma. That is a choice between two bad options. Switch and have to guard Stockton off a pick with a guard that couldn’t stay with Stockton even without a pick, or switch and guard Stockton with a center Stockton can go around as if the center weren’t even there. That’s one dilemma. The other dilemma is switch and guard Malone with guard that Malone will plough deep into the ground as he goes to iron, or don’t switch and guard Malone with a four that Malone will step out and shoot a trey over, drive by as if he weren’t even there.

    Every damned time down the floor: DILEMMAS. First one side, then the other side. And when they overshift and help, boom! Whip it cross court to the backside wing that can drain the open look for three!!!

    But as I said, Self has never played the pick and roll the way god intended it to be played.

    Until now, Self never had a short shot clock to worry about. And he rarely wanted his post men shooting treys. Even Kieff took relatively few good as he was at the long art. Historically, Self’s bigs pick, and they roll, but they don’t get passed to and they take treys about as often as often as Karl Malone ate quiche instead of spare ribs at a barbecue.

    For Self, the pick and roll was just a low-risk technique of drawing an opponents big away from the basket ever so slightly to create some driving lanes and some rebounding angles. For example, Self played a lot of pick and roll with Cole Aldrich even though Cole of the funky jumper was hardly a trey ball threat. Cole could hit a 10-15 footer though. So even though Cole set the pick and rolled, and was rarely ever looked at to pass to by Sherron, Cole was drawing his man away from the rim and keeping him from helping as much.

    But this short shot clock is forcing the defensive maestro to look for something different to do on offense–forcing him to at least explore what Poppa is doing down in old San Antone.

    But we all know how Minister of Defense for Edmon Oklahoma operates.

    He looks at offenses that use action instead of passing to create impact space and he hears voices. The voices belong to Dean, Larry, Eddie, and Hank. The voices form a Greek Chorus with a distinct midwestern twang and that half drawl/half hick up that gets thicker as you move south from harshly continental-climated Nebraska into transitionally continental-climated Kansas and then into the barely subtropical-climated Oklahoma.

    Action congests.

    Absolute action congests absolutely.

    Beware the ides of action for they congest the impact space.

    The voices don’t stop here either.

    The voices say, “Yay, you walked through the valley of the shadow of Bad Ball last season. And you feared no evil. But you went out early because you did not listen to us about your transgression. You shrank the impact space with the drive, which was not technically a violation of our ten commandments we have handed down to you, but it trespassed on the spirit of those commandments. And so you paid for it. And if you rely solely on the pick and roll, or on any other action, your basketball soul will roast in the fires of basketball hades for all the seasons of your career.”

    Self tried to have it both ways last season. He avoided action to appease the voices, but he used driving to shrink the impact space which no doubt made them shake their heads and wag fingers down at him.

    In any accent, the action of the pick and roll is unstoppable and suitable for your core offense, if and only if the following conditions are met.

    You have a good perimeter ball handler that can make the trey, or drive it to iron. Think Frank Mason.

    You have a stretch 4 that can make the trey, or drive it to iron. Think Perry Ellis.

    You have a back side wing that can make the open look trey, if the defense overshifts to stop the pick and roll, or a matchup goes south. Think Wayne Selden, or Vick, or Greene.

    Pick and roll heaven would be having two such wings and two such stretch fours able to play pick and role on both sides at the same time. Add Nic from SMU and Bragg.

    Pick and roll nirvana would be having not just four, but four backups that could do it also; this would ensure being able to pick and roll non-stop for 40 minutes, or at least the portion of 40 minutes the offense would have the ball. Dream on.

    Nirvana has never been achieved in basketball that I can recall.

    I cannot even recall pick and roll heaven being achieved in college basketball, though someone with higher functioning cortex likely will.

    Regardless, you can be damned hard to guard with just one Stockton, one Malone, and one Jeff Hornacek on the back side. You can get away with journeyman types at the 5. And if you find a big shot blocker like Ostertagg to play half the minutes at the 5, you can be a real head ache. This is the model.

    The closer you come to it the wiser it is to play pick and roll often.

    The farther you are from it the more foolish it is play pick and roll, especially with a short shock clock.

    Frank Mason and Perry Ellis could make a nice watered down college version of Stockton/Malone.

    Selden can be the back side Hornacek that can either shoot the trey or drive it, when the defense overshifts to stop the pick and roll action.

    But the voices!

    Self will keep hearing the voices.

    Action congests.

    Absolute action congests absolutely.

    Beware the ides of action.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate-1.0 That was great! A basketball 101 lesson and Jaybate basketball prose with compare/contrast against two NBA greats and our boys in Crimson and Blue. Right on man, thanks! Every little bit helps me understand the game all the better.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Ohhhhhh man! I wish Karl Malone was still able to play. Id give my left you know where to see The Mailman beat up on Lebron. I think you are right, The King would be waving the white flag after one quarters worth of bruises he’d get from big man Malone. 💥 💥 :rage1:

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