Friday, May 22, 2009

Using Your Stud as the Decoy (The Phil Jackson Move)

Since it is the only basketball left on television, and by NBA standards it is great basketball, I watched the Lakers vs. Nuggets game last night on television. One thing that stood out to me at the end, although it didn't work, is how Phil Jackson used Kobe as the decoy to get Fisher a shot at the end to tie the game. This is something that Coach Jackson has done over the course of his career, and done it well. Whether it was using Jordan/Pippen as the decoy for guys like Paxson, Kerr, and Kukoc, or using guys like Kobe to get Roberty Horry open for threes, it seems to be a very present theme in his end game situations in important games. I like that he always has the confidence in his role guys and doesn't try to cram the last shot down the opponent's throat with the superstar, which is what you often see.

Now Coach Jackson is obviously not the only coach that does this, many do. It is a great strategy and one that can be very useful, as long as you have the other pieces. If you need a three and only have one kid that can shoot the three, it's going to be an exercise in futility to run a play to get anyone else a shot. But on the average team, you have a couple of guys that can take that last shot, and I like when it ends in the hands of a role player. Some coaches may argue that you always want your best player to take the last shot, and I see the logic, but at the same time I would rather have an open/good shot with a role player that can make it than take a rushed/forced/poor shot with my superstar.

In light of that thought, I prefer to have a last second set where the first look is for the superstar, but the superstar becomes the decoy if over defended and the set then frees the other player for the last second shot. One of my favorite looks is to have the "shooter" screen for the star and then screen the screener so that the shooter can free himself for that last jumper. Or simply have the screener (who is a good shooter) pop off the screen.

1 comment:

ryan said...

very nice !

i have the confidence to say that i am the DECOY player in my team! can u give me some ideas sir to find myself open for the threes ? tnx !