Blazers’ Plays of the Week

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Welcome to Plays of the Week, where every Wednesday we’ll take a look Blazers’ sets from the past 7 days that caught our eye. If you see a play call or a trend that intrigues you, hit us up on twitter or leave a message in the comments section below.

Damian Lillard Drag Screen

We’ve seen this action a lot recently from the Blazers and it’s had a number of benefits. Firstly, it alleviates some of the ball pressure that Damian Lillard has seen. In last Monday’s loss to the Sixers we saw Jrue Holliday picking up Lillard almost at half court. The early screen allows Lillard to keep his momentum and operate in what is basically a transition opportunity. Another benefit is that the big man defending the screen is usually in terrible position, allowing Lillard to attack or set up his teammates as the defense scrambles.

In the first clip, notice how high Aldridge sets the screen, and how Spencer Hawes is in no position to defend it as he is already on his heels as Lillard attacks the basket. 

The second clip shows the same action, but starting slightly lower—just above the three point line. Again, the big man defending the play is in no position to help with either the ball handler or the roll man, and it results in a decent look for LaMarcus. 

This action has become a staple of Portland’s offence and has been quite effective so far. Keep an eye on how teams defend this going forward, at this point it looks to be catching teams by surprise. 

Pick and Roll Options

In Friday night’s win against Atlanta, the Hawks did a great job of hitting the roll man from different areas on the floor. Portland runs a ton of pick and roll and late in the game they took a page out of the Hawks’ book: 

The Blazers have at least three capable ballhandlers/passers (Batum, Lillard, Maynor), so if this action is something that we’re going to see regularly, we certainly have the personnel to run it. 

 The Versatility of Nic Batum

 Batum’s emergence as an effective passer and pick and roll ballhandler has given Terry Stotts a number of new options on how to deploy the versatile wing. Batum also effectively straddles the line between aggression and setting up his teammates, and more often than not makes good reads.

Here are three plays from the past week that showcase Nic as a passer, as a pick and roll ballhandler, and as the primary scoring option: 

The action here is simple enough, Nic flares off a LaMarcus screen and, without taking a dribble, makes the correct read delivering the ball to a wide open LA for a good look. 

From Sunday night’s loss in OKC, Nic is the inbounder and the primary scoring option. As soon as he throws the ball in he comes off the screen hard and is ready to shoot. Also, any play that features a big man setting multiple screens will always be a favorite.

The last clip is a beautifully designed sideline out of bounds play from late in the Sixers game. Batum is tasked with the ballhandling duties and makes the correct read in finding Wes Matthews for a good look at a three.

Credit Philadelphia’s defence on this play, they did a great job of defending the screen, picking up the roll man and staying with the corner shooters. There was one man open on the play and Batum found him. 

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