Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Hornets

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San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Hornets 2:00 CST November 28, 2010

SRS ranks:

New Orleans: 5.96 (6th)
San Antonio: 7.73 (1st)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of 82games.com (effective November 21, 2010) and basketballvalue.com (effective November 26, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-
Paul0.7117.49.9100.97.4
Ariza0.69-4.10.57.66.81.7
West0.6695.010.51.3-3.1
Okafor0.645.3-1.95.410.7-2.5
Belinelli0.581.71.1120.92.3
Jack0.56-4.4-0.4-7.5-2.9*-2.2
Green0.431.6-1.53.410.4-2.5
Smith0.4-2.8-10.67.57.20.4
Anderson0.243.6-6.911.2-7.3*2.1

*On court/Off court numbers reflect team performances with Toronto

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Paul,Belinelli,Ariza,West,Okafor +66 in 289 MP

Preferred method to create shots: Chris Paul running the pick and roll

After Chris Paul suffered through an injury plagued season last year, there has been a push to crown Deron Williams the best PG in the NBA, but the truth is that Chris Paul has had consistently better numbers throughout their respective careers, including last year. Paul has improved on last season’s performance and should be on a short list of MVP candidates to this point in the season.

Chris Paul is very good at isolation plays and outstanding at running the break, but he is among the very best at commanding the pick and roll. Since 2007-08, Paul has averaged over 1.07 points per possession on pick and roll derived plays and has never ranked below the 87th percentile on such plays (according to synergy sports).

Appropriate Spurs counter: No layups

Admittedly, this strategy is kind of simplistic; it’s a little more complex than suggesting the Spurs should outscore the Hornets. The idea is that Paul can devastate a defense reacting to the pick and roll by finding players in position for layups or getting to the basket himself. The Hornets have been elite on plays derived from Chris Paul running the pick and roll, but they have been merely average (compared to other NBA teams) when these possessions end with spot ups. Obviously, the team running the pick and roll has significant input on how the possession develops. Fortunately for the Spurs, many of Chris Paul’s pick and roll possessions do end in spot ups.

The Hornets often run a pick and pop. This can create more room for Paul and others to streak to the hoop, but if defended well, the play will often result in a jumper from either Jason Smith or David West. Both are adequate shooters for big men, but if the Spurs can get a lot of jumpers out of West and Smith when defending Chris Paul’s pick and roll, it should be considered a defensive success. The effectiveness of this strategy should only improve now that Toronto has acquired Peja Stojakovic.

In addition to applying extra defensive focus on cutters and defensive rotations; traps, zones and switches could all be mixed in as the Spurs try to solve Chris Paul’s pick and roll. In limited observations, traps have seemed to diminish Chris Paul’s pick and roll effectiveness.

Parker and Hill typically defend Paul. Both have been adequate, but not exceptional defending the pick and roll.
This article on Basketball Prospectus details strategies for defending Chris Paul in a playoff series against the Spurs in 2008. For those of you who prefer to watch video on defending Paul in the pick and roll, this video breaks down how the Nuggets were able to have some success defending him in a playoff series in 2009.

Defensive Weakness: attack Chris Paul on the pick and roll

In addition to his offensive dominance, Chris Paul wrecks havoc on the defensive end. He regularly leads the league in steals and sparks the transition with his gambles. In addition to his abilities to pick pockets and disrupt passing lanes, Paul is a solid defender on isolation plays; but he is not without defensive deficiencies.

For one, his height leaves him subject to post ups. It also diminishes his ability to alter his opponent’s shots as successfully as taller players. But perhaps most surprisingly, he has struggled fairly consistently defending the pick and roll. Last year Paul allowed 0.93 PPP defending the pick and roll ball handler (38th percentile). Although this isn’t abysmal, if Tony Parker makes Paul work on defense it could also serve to limit his playing time and his end of game effectiveness. (Paul defends Tony Parker a high percentage of the time.)

Conclusion

The Spurs have another tough game with an elite west team. This time they have a chance to bounce back by avenging their first loss of the season, but they’ll need to do it on the road. The Spurs might be the better team, but the difference is not likely enough to be favored against the Hornets in New Orleans.

  • JT

    We should have Parker and Timmy, Blair, Splitter run the PnR to get Paul defensing a big, this is what the Mavs and Suns have done to us in the past…

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  • Jim Henderson

    Keys to securing victory:

    Defense:

    — effectively guard their pick & roll
    — aggressively contest the 3-point line

    Offense:

    — aggressive dribble-drive penetration
    — crisp ball movement
    — effective use of pick & roll

    Rebounding:

    — must win the TRB rate

  • Flavor

    wow. down 17 at the half? we’ll come back and win on the road by 14… LOVED the 2nd half.

  • Emanu

    Wow, nice call. Also

    Ginobiliiiiiiiiiiiiiii
    Posted West’s stat line with 3 more shots but 6 more assists, which I find interesting for some reason. In fact, our guards were banging the boards pretty hard, which I think is worrisome, since the Spurs’ extra shots were pretty much the entire margin of victory, and I don’t think Parker/Ginobili can consistently combine for 12+.

  • Phoebus

    signature freaking win.

  • SAJKinBigD

    Particularly awesome after the results of the Mavs game, I’d say!

  • badger

    That 2nd half may have been the best half of basketball they’ve played so far this year. Amazing!!

  • SG

    Only saw the highlights, so i can’t speak too much about the game. Just looking at the last 5 games overall, Manu’s minutes are way up…he’s playing at an All-Star level, but I think 33min avg is too high. Let’s hope that Ime can work himself into the rotation. Manu playing back-up SF is not good for his body….to much pounding from those big guys.

  • Emanu

    I find it strangely interesting that Manu put up the same line as West (on three extra shots) but got 6 more assists.

    But I’m a little concerned about the way the Spurs won. They had a lot of guard rebounds, and looking at the stats, those extra shots were the difference, since the Spurs shot a worse percentage overall and weren’t making that many 3s. Also, Parker and Manu had almost 20 assists and 1 TO, which is impressive, but probably not replicable. Though you’d expect more passing turnovers against CP3.

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