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Coach: Anderson’s Efficiency; Indiana’s Advantage
Posted By Anthony Macri On February 3, 2012 @ 10:00 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Ryan Anderson: Very Little Wasted
Last season, it looked like Ryan Anderson might be on the verge of something special. Averaging 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds with a 19.9 PER in 2010-11, he did enough things well that he was just a guy who needed more time to prove it. I named him to my all-undervalued team this offseason, and it looks like he has turned a corner this year.
He is averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds this year, while shooting 43% from long range (hitting three 3-pointers per game). His 23.8 PER is good enough for 11th in the league overall, just behind LaMarcus Aldridge and ahead of Blake Griffin. The statistics only tell part of the story, however. While he is producing efficiently in the minutes he is on the floor, the easiest thing to learn from watching him operate is how little he wastes out there.
Specifically, Anderson rarely wastes dribbles, and he almost never wastes space. These are two commodities on the court that allow him to operate effectively no matter the defender, and the way he values them shows through in his play.
On catches, Anderson always has a purpose when he dribbles the ball. He attacks open areas, improves passing angles, or gets away from trouble using the dribble, and that is basically it. Some players dribble the ball “just because” – they simply pound the ball into the ground where they are, in a basically stationary spot. This habit kills their explosiveness and it also tends to kill the movement of their teammates.
Anderson almost never falls into this trap. He puts the ball on the deck where he’s going rather than where he is, and he only uses the dribble when he has a plan of attack in mind. This is a major contribution to his overall efficiency: it cuts down on turnovers and makes him dangerous on every catch.
Anderson also uses every inch of space he can. Whether in the post (where he fights for areas that will give him a better chance to be successful) or on the perimeter (where he works to stretch defenses by constantly moving to give his teammates great attack and passing angles), Anderson does a great job of never settling for an “ok” space when a “great” space is to be had.
This is even more evident in cutting and rebounding situations. In both, it is the use of space that determines success. When cutting, Anderson eliminates the space between him and his defender, destroying their potential reaction time and preventing them establishing a defensive cushion. In rebounding, Anderson shifts from using open space to move around defenders to closing off space to create physical contact as well as nearly anyone in the league.
With the way that Anderson plays, his production will only go up as his team continues to rely on him more and more. The more he values these commodities and avoids wasting them, the better he will be.
Indiana’s Numerical Advantage
There is a lot to be learned watching an offense like that of the Indiana Pacers. In many ways, their approach is similar to the sort of balanced attack that the Philadelphia 76ers employ: no real stars, but each player fills their role, generally plays within his own abilities, and they space the floor well while sharing the ball.
When the Pacers are scoring efficiently, the most recognizable characteristic of their attack is they consistently gain a numerical advantage. Whether on the break or in the half court, most of what they do best comes down to taking advantage of situations where they outnumber the defense. On the other hand, when they are content to play 1-on-1 or 5-on-5, their offense tends to stagnate, which forces them to rely on individual great plays: not what you want to have when you don’t have a certified lock-em-up scoring all-star.
The easiest place to observe their strength at work is in transition. Darren Collison and company do an excellent job creating an advantage with their speed and then exploiting it. Collison seems to be doing a good job in transition putting pressure on the defense. He pushes the ball in a lane well, and then allows any single defender to make his passing or scoring decision for him by reading his position.
As a team, they do a good job attacking the basket and spotting up opposite for kickouts. They use the dribble to draw a second defender, then kick. On the catch, the new ball-handler has a very brief window to take advantage of the outnumbered situation. Whether this be via another drive or a plus-one pass to an open teammate as the defense rotates, Indiana makes this play consistently well.
In fact, because their propensity to do the right play is so obvious, when they instead make a poor decision, it is also reasonably easy to see. It might be in a Danny Granger post up or a kickout to a player like Hanbrough, who is sometimes unable to simply make that catch-and-shoot, or make the catch-and-attack: his hesitation allows the defense to recover correctly, eliminating any kind of numerical advantage. The offense occasionally grinds to a halt when isolating Granger. Since he is the most gifted scorer on the roster for the Pacers, he can overcome this with individual talent. However, this type of attack should be the exception, not the rule for Indiana.
Their ability to seek out these opportunities and then seize them is the mark of a good offensive team, and it is something that any squad interested in winning games should look to replicate. In the case of the Indiana Pacers, it appears that lesson has been learned. Creating a numerical advantage and then scoring off of those advantages allows them to get beyond the “need for a superstar” to be successful.
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Each week, HOOPSWORLD NBA analyst and coach Anthony Macri will open his notebook and offer an assortment of observations on games, players, and teams from throughout the league. Coach Macri serves as a player development consultant for the Pro Training Center and Coach David Thorpe, working with a variety of NBA players on their skills and game understanding and serves as an assistant coach at Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, VA), currently ranked in the top 25 in the country by USA Today. The Coach’s Notebook appears on HOOPSWORLD every Thursday.
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