View Full Version : Kings' pick-n-roll

02-11-2004, 12:04 PM
Jazz up the offense

Kings become one of NBA's best at the pick and roll
By Scott Howard-Cooper -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 2:15 a.m. PST Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A member of the Utah Jazz's coaching staff is praising the way the Kings run the pick and roll. Think Einstein touting someone's work in math.
"They're very good," said Gordon Chiesa, a Jazz assistant since 1989.

The Kings. The Sacramento Kings. The team with the offensive pyrotechnics and the open-court reputation. The Kings are one of the NBA's best teams at running a set that defines half-court execution.

"Oh, yeah," Chiesa said. "Top five."

Image be damned.

Behind the reputation of life on the run for the league's No. 1 scoring team is the reality that the Kings use the pick and roll effectively and often, composing what coach Rick Adelman estimates is at least a quarter of their offense. No wonder.

They have the perfect weapons (big men and guards who can shoot), the ideal mind-set (an unselfish approach as the league's best passing team) and a veteran roster.

What they didn't always have was the discipline to execute in the half-court.

The Kings already had Vlade Divac and Chris Webber, big men who could score from the perimeter or pass, but the big step came with Mike Bibby's arrival in 2001. He didn't have the quickness of predecessor Jason Williams, but Bibby was more patient, a point guard who could handle the ball, split defenders or make defenses play out to three-point range.

So sure had they become by 2004 that the Kings were averaging the fifth fewest turnovers in the league entering Tuesday's games. And, in the ultimate sign of reliance, they were consciously holding back some of the sets early in hopes opponents wouldn't react as well when they did run them late in the game. Bottom line, the pick and roll has become a go-to play.

"To run a great pick and roll, you need two guys who can really shoot the ball, a point guard and a big guy," Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "The big guy that can set the screen and shoot the ball really well and the point guard that can pass, and then (defending teams are) in big trouble. And (the Kings) have that in multiples."

As in: many options. Bibby and Bobby Jackson, both capable at point guard. Brad Miller, Divac and, when he returns, Webber, among the big men who can shoot.

"That's what makes it a problem," Dunleavy said.

It only multiplies from there. It's a basic offensive set - usually the center or power forward setting a pick on the perimeter and the guard going around, then waiting to see what defender follows him to take a shot or leaves the big man open enough to pass it back. But the Kings, like every team, have different variations of the original premise, increasing the degree of difficulty for opponents.

Sometimes they run it from the top of the key. Sometimes from around the end of the free-throw line. Sometimes from the side. Sometimes from the corner, near the baseline. And then sometimes from any of the same four areas on the other side of the floor. A designed moment can dictate the specifics of the location, or where defenses force the ball, or simply a direction the offense flows in transition.

It was no different with the Jazz, which made the pick and roll its signature move through the John Stockton-Karl Malone years, done with such precision that every defense knew it was coming and still couldn't deny the inevitable basket.

The set has become forever theirs. Among all those that follow, the Kings have the benefit of being dangerous from every direction, to keep defenses honest, and more options to run it through.

"We're a team that would like to play transition offense, but it's to flow into something," Adelman said. "It's not really to get layups. We try to get quick-hitting stuff that gets us good shots, and the pick and roll is part of that. Mike is really good at it. We work really hard at trying to take what they want to give us."

The Kings run it with numerous variations, depending on the location on the floor, the players involved and the situation. Among the four or five basic sets to get into the offense, each has an option for pick and roll.

"It's the personnel," Chiesa said. "Michael Bibby is such a threat at any moment to take a jump shot over the top. Bobby Jackson is a man on the prowl. Sometimes he shoots over the top, sometimes he drops his shoulder and drives hard to the basket. And Divac is a master screener. Sometimes illegal, I might add. But we love him. We tell our guys to play like Divac."

And so it has come to this. The Utah Jazz telling players to be more like a King in the pick and roll. Relatively speaking.


02-11-2004, 05:23 PM
The Mavs were the kings (!) of the fast breaks two years ago and of the pick and roll last season.

When Nash, Finley and Dirk want to use pick and roll movements, it still works pretty fine.

When will Walker, Howard and Jamison be able to do it regularly, or better yet, forced to do it systematically?

I'm trying to figure out what is now the main asset of the scheme of the Mavs. Can't find it. (Don't say that the zone, please.)