Coach: Rudy, Melo Should Watch Each Other
Rudy & Melo: Each Learning From the Other
Baltimore-bred scoring forwards Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay bring a high level of skill and athleticism to their respective teams, the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies. Their different approaches to the game are easily distinguished out on the floor: Melo is a shoot-first player, comfortable using screens (off the ball or in ball screen situations) and in isolation situations; Gay is a rangy athlete who operates well as a flasher, in transition, and when catching the ball on the move in attack mode.
Though they look pretty similar in body-build (both 6’8 and 230 lbs) and play the same position, their approach on the offensive end is very different. In situations where he is running off screens, Melo tends to make quicker reads, looking for a shooting window as he turns his shoulders to fire. In isolations, however, Melo rarely makes speed reads, choosing instead to use his dribble to set himself and confuse his defender. However, the ball often stops in his hands on these types of plays, challenging his team’s offensive flow.
Rudy’s approach is nearly the reverse. In situations where he comes off screens, Rudy’s reads are slower, and he stretches the action out, instead of keeping it tight to the screener as Melo does. This makes scoring opportunities much more difficult than they need to be and usually requires him to make a tough shot instead of an easy one. However, in isolation type situations, he often catches the ball on the move and continues on the move, making quick attacks a big part of his repertoire.
These different approaches actually work for to strengths rather well. Melo is able to show off his size and strength coming off screens, where smaller defenders simply can’t contest his shots, while demonstrating his speed and skill in isolation situations against most defenders around the league. For Rudy, he showcases great quickness, athleticism, and agility as he catches while moving in isolations, and his size and ball skills are on display after he stretches screening action.
Long term there is a definite advantage to the two wing forwards learning from one another’s game. Carmelo’s game would rise to even higher levels if he started using quick attacks more often in isolations. His size is magnified the more he is able to catch on the move, as defenders would not be able to stay in front of him. Likewise, Rudy should watch Melo’s work off screens: he would likely see more opportunities to stay tight to the screen, not give up valuable real estate to a defender, and find easier scoring chances from the perimeter more often.
Neither needs a dramatic overhaul or to change their approach entirely. Rather, it is about learning to incorporate small variations to their games to keep defenders even more off-balance and give them more ammunition for whatever defense they encounter.
Diagnosis: John Wall
Coming into the season there were many expectations on second-year point guard John Wall and the kind of progress he was expected to make from last year. Unfortunately, his production has been down across the board and visually he looks alternately lost and disinterested out on the court. What problems appear to be occurring, and how can he right the ship for the rest of this season?
It’s pretty easy to see from both basic and advanced statistics that Wall is struggling right now. He is averaging three points per game less than last season, is down over an assist a game, and is shooting 7% worse from the field than last year, all while playing the same number of minutes. This decrease in overall production has also negatively impacted his PER, which is down to 12.5 this season from 15.8 last year, and nearly every other advanced metric is down as well.
These are merely symptoms, indicating a more deeper problem. Wall’s entire sense of timing and normal body control seem to be off. Last season, he masterfully changed speeds throughout. Now, as opposed to managing his own personal tempo, he either seems mired in quicksand, unable to really move with purpose and burst, or he seems locked into a pace too fast for his teammates, playing out of control.
As a result he is rarely prepared to shoot, whether that is in spot-up situations or drives into the lane. He is off-balance, compensating for a poor approach into a scoring position. This manifests in a variety of ways, whether it be in floaters now shot with an angled body (low percentage), or passes fired to shooters out of their comfort area (which lead to missed shots and consequently less assists).
Perhaps the best way for Wall to address these issues is to focus on parts of his game that should not be as directly affected. He should be one of the best defenders in the league at his position, and focusing on that part of the game will undoubtedly help him. In addition, he would probably be better off delivering passes to teammates earlier, and moving off the ball so he can focus on scoring from the wing.
In the end this will likely be only a blip in his career, provided he treats the underlying issues quickly and decisively, and does not let them fester. The choice is ultimately up to him.
Have questions for Coach Macri? Be sure and drop by HOOPSWORLD on Tuesdays at 11AM Eastern for the Coach’s weekly basketball chat! You can also follow Coach Macri on Twitter @CoachMacri.
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.