The New Orleans Pelicans like to run pick-and-rolls a lot. In fact, through their 29 games so far this season, they’ve used it in 35.3 percent of their offensive sets because it’s been that good to them. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they acquired the pick-and-roll fiend that is Jrue Holiday in the off-season, who over the years has ran the play to death, but it also helps that they have Anthony Davis – a freak athlete, who is as big of a target as anyone when he rolls to the basket. It’s a beautiful pairing and one that has shown great results in the early going.
But on Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, they jazzed their usual pick-and-roll just up a little and it worked like a charm, as Holiday found Davis for an easy alley-oop thanks to some nifty play design from the sideline. It also help that it ended with a huge dunk over Joel Freeland, who had just checked into the game.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what went on.
Phase One: The Set-Up
The Pelicans inbound the ball to Jrue Holiday, who casually dribbles the ball over to the center of the court to set up a pick and roll with Anthony Davis. Ryan Anderson stands almost right behind Davis, which is instrumental in Joel Freeland’s baptising. (I guess you could call him the priest, if you really wanted to). Al-Farouq Aminu and Anthony Morrow go to the corners to space the floor.
Phase Two: The Execution
Davis slips the screen by darting off towards the basket almost as soon as he’s made contract with Mo Williams. Freeland is in help position to prevent Holiday from having a wide open lane to the basket, but clearly Aldridge hasn’t told him that there’s a screen being set on him because, well, he’s in a bad place. Aldridge probably should’ve switched onto Davis, but that would’ve left Anderson wide open in the paint, so either way, the Blazers are in trouble. Matthews could also have moved into the paint instead of being a foot outside of it.
Phase Three: The Finish
Freeland manages to make his way into the paint, but he’s too late: Holiday throws a perfect alley-oop and nobody is going to stop Davis when he’s been given that much space. Anderson pops out to the three after setting the screen, which gives Holiday another option had the lob not been there and it’s important to note that Morrow is on the weak side, and not Aminu, because there would’ve been an open shot there had Matthews helped a little sooner. But all in all, the result is an easy two points for the Pelicans and a hurt pride for Freeland.
Here’s the play in full speed:
The Pelicans ran the exact same play later on in the fourth quarter when they needed a bucket and it wasn’t as pretty as the first one, but they still got a good look from it.
Holiday comes off of Davis’ screen with the intent of driving to the basket, which forces Aldridge to double team him right away. That leaves Batum between a rock and a hard place in having to decide on whether or not he should cover Davis or follow Anderson out to the perimeter. He chooses the latter. That leaves Williams as the Blazers’ final hope to stop Davis. (Not an ideal situation). Holiday doesn’t make a very good pass, but it doesn’t matter as Davis is left uncovered for an easy layup.
It’s not necessarily a play that will always result in an alley-oop for Anthony Davis because good communication and switching could probably sort that problem out, but it’s a nice surprise play and it still gives the Pelicans plenty of other options, as well as that all important floor spacing.
Statistical support courtesy of MySynergySports.com.