The future of drop-big defense; and, necessary adjustments


FAILED STATE

Well-Known Member
I don’t want to write a tome here, so let me get to the initial assumptions right off the bat:

1. We are officially in the era of diminishing returns when it comes to the efficiency of drop-big defense of the PnR. It can be in your bag, but it cannot be the kind of every-play, everyday staple like it was this year for several teams.

2. This drop in efficiency is primarily because of adjustments being made by the league’s top 30+ guards, who are increasingly effective at off-the-dribble 3s. But it’s also because it’s just hard to defend a guard who’s given a predictable runway/funnel into the defense to either draw a foul or kick out to a shooter whose timing is set by the predictable rhythm of funnel-drive-kick.

3. The effectiveness of drop-big has been partially inflated by the success of the Bucks, and, to a degree, the Utah Jazz—both of whom have the best defenders in the world.

4. As currently constructed, the Utah Jazz’s roster is in a weak position to adjust to the changed landscape.

Now, let’s carry the argument forward:

(i) League-wide, there will be more switching, more coverage where the big is up near the level of the screen, and more zone coverage.

(ii) Whenever the big is up and there’s no switch, this will make the rim more vulnerable to attack. And so, in terms of adjusting to this reality whilst maintaining emphasis on protecting the rim, defenses will ask more from the defender in the weak-side corner, since he is in the best position to help at the rim.

(iii) Obvious corollary here is that this defender needs to be long enough to protect the rim. (And also swift enough to recover to his shooter).

(iv) Defenses will also have to be good at sequestering the PnR to the strong side. This requires good help from the weak-side defender who’s up in the gap near the free throw line.

Now let’s look at the Jazz’s roster:

(a) Rudy Gobert is definitely good enough to be involved in more switches and to play up higher in non-switching schemes.

(b) this past season, the defender in the weak-side corner was often 6’1” Mike Conley

(c) Royce is an good/excellent defender in these changing schemes. He can play either on the ball or up in the gap near the free throw line. Joe will share these same duties, so we can only pray that he hasn’t lost too much of a step to do so. If he can’t do this effectively in the starting lineup, then our overall versatility is hit pretty hard.

(d) Mitchell has a heavy offensive load, so he’s probably best in this gap near the free throw line where the workload is a little less. Obviously offenses can hunt for the matchups they want and usually have more than one PnR ball handler, so Mitchell (or anyone else in the gap) will be forced to play on-ball for a fair number of possessions per game. While we should endeavor to limit these possessions, we can also expect Mitchell to improve and be a good stopper there when necessary.

(e) Joe, Bojan, and Conley (and I could definitely keep listing players!) will all be extremely ineffective in the weak-side corner going forward. Morgan could be a good piece there. Maybe Brantley.

(f) Tony Bradley is cooked

(g) the Jazz need more defenders at multiple spots. They need more help on the ball. And they are extremely vulnerable in the weak-side corner. Christian Wood is the best available prospect for that weak side corner, and he can also play Rudy’s role. Denis Schroeder would be a plus-defender on the ball in our system. Shaq Harrison and Torrey Craig can help in multiple locations. If OPJ is gettable, then he’d be useful in that weak-side corner.

I’m gonna end here before this becomes even more tl;dr. There are obviously wrinkles I didn’t address, like when the offense empties the side of the floor where the PnR takes place, etc. Hopefully we can get to these details in this thread.

muah,
NAOS
 

Handlogten's Heros

Well-Known Member
2019 Award Winner
I don't have the answers... I just love that the Heat are baffling Boston with a zone defense. Its some basic **** but a good zone can cause issues.

The real problem isn't necessarily that this is going out of style. Not every team has the personnel to exploit it. The real problem is we didn't have anything in our bag to try.

Locke mentioned several times that "we haven't blitzed the pick and roll all year... do it now and we will suck at it" "we haven't played much zone at all... do it now and we will suck at it". You can say we don't have the personnel for anything else... but you don't know... cause we didn't try things.

It seems pretty ****ing simple to try some zone during the year... we have an issue with teams pulling Rudy out of the paint... maybe there is this concept of a defense that could keep him near the basket. You might suck and lose a few games during the year, but maybe you figure it out and it works better than the base defense in some situations.

If you are too rigid you will lose in the playoffs unless you have an overwhelming superstar.
 

NUMBERICA

Well-Known Member
Dropping the big is one way that things are forced to the middle, though, right?
I’m not sure they are linked. I just know that the conventional wisdom for some time is/was forcing baseline, but maybe in this NBA the topic of middle or baseline is secondary. The only other thing I’ll add is we need more disruptive non-Rudy defenders for forcing middle to be obviously preferable (since the first counter is kicking to the corner) but we have none.
 

Handlogten's Heros

Well-Known Member
2019 Award Winner
Dropping the big is one way that things are forced to the middle, though, right?
Its to force to the mid range... not necessarily the middle I think. For a few years we have offered up the mid range to anyone that wants it. Some teams can stretch that out and it end up being 3s instead of long twos.
 

NUMBERICA

Well-Known Member
Its to force to the mid range... not necessarily the middle I think. For a few years we have offered up the mid range to anyone that wants it. Some teams can stretch that out and it end up being 3s instead of long twos.
And sacrificing mid-range in the regular season is still a legit strategy. But there has to be urgency guarding the ball against a Murray/Harden/Curry type anywhere close to the thee-point line, and at a certain point even the mid-range 2s. AT LEAST during the playoffs when you have all the data in the world that basically erases all of the league-wide data.

“But the Jazz held Murray to a bad game in game 7!” Sure did. By finally making real attempts at crowding Murray and adapting to what any idiot could see on the screen.
 

Handlogten's Heros

Well-Known Member
2019 Award Winner
I’m not sure they are linked. I just know that the conventional wisdom for some time is/was forcing baseline, but maybe in this NBA the topic of middle or baseline is secondary. The only other thing I’ll add is we need more disruptive non-Rudy defenders for forcing middle to be obviously preferable (since the first counter is kicking to the corner) but we have none.
I think the general idea is to shut off the paint and not allow threes. We do those things fairly well, but if you don't pressure shooters in the mid range there are guys that will really hurt you.

The base defense might be fine if we were getting a couple steals or contesting threes better because Rudy has the paint locked down. I've mentioned it a bunch of times... we are dead last in deflections, steals, loose balls recovered... we were bottom 3 in blocks. Either we have the wrong personnel or none of them are playing with force. We were near the top of the league or in the middle of the pack on all of those things last year.
 

Handlogten's Heros

Well-Known Member
2019 Award Winner
And sacrificing mid-range in the regular season is still a legit strategy. But there has to be urgency guarding the ball against a Murray/Harden/Curry type anywhere close to the thee-point line, and at a certain point even the mid-range 2s. AT LEAST during the playoffs when you have all the data in the world that basically erases all of the league-wide data.

“But the Jazz held Murray to a bad game in game 7!” Sure did. By finally making real attempts at crowding Murray and adapting to what any idiot could see on the screen.
Its the same recipe Bud has... good regular season strategies you stay with all year. Beat up on bad teams and win enough against good ones. Issue is if you don't have any changeups you will run into a matchup that will exploit you.

It only gets you so far.
 

SCS

Well-Known Member
TL;DR

We need long athletic switchy wing defenders.
Basically this. We need more wing depth/size/length in the rotation. Doesn't necessarily need to be in the starting lineup. But it needs to be a rotation option.

It's pretty much a necessity to have it as an option on the weak side and on the nail if you want to win a championship.
 
I love that you mentioned C.Wood coz Rudy needs some help, that help doesn't have to be a defensive specialist but just being bigger and longer certainly helps. Wood pushing Bogey to the 3 gives us length and strength defensively at least. I'd feel much better with Wood coming to help when Rudy is out at the 3pt line. It's better that what we have now.

I love JC as much as anyone but I'd use his $$ to sign Wood and make Conley the scorer off the bench. Realistically I dont see us moving Conley. And can use MLE/BAE on Harkless/Jones Jr type for perimeter D. Assuming trading out Davis and Bradley...

I like the flexibility of this core
Rudy
Wood
Bogey
O'Neal
Mitchell
Conley
Ingles
Harkless/Jones

Especially Conley and Wood pick and pop.
 

FAILED STATE

Well-Known Member
Basically this. We need more wing depth/size/length in the rotation. Doesn't necessarily need to be in the starting lineup. But it needs to be a rotation option.

It's pretty much a necessity to have it as an option on the weak side and on the nail if you want to win a championship.
We need it in the starting lineup.
 

Handlogten's Heros

Well-Known Member
2019 Award Winner
I promise you Quin will roll some zone out next year and people will talk about what a novel idea it is... even though we had issues with Rudy getting pulled out of the paint all season and it is something we already should have exhausted thoroughly.

It’s likely too simple and we have to focus more on sex machine concepts right @infection
 

One Brow

Well-Known Member
Zone defense is taking over both conference finals. Wish we had a mad genius coach that woulda added this to his bag.
Ultimately, the quality of the commitment and ability of the defenders matters more that the type of defense. Bad man-to-man defenders make bad zone defenders.
 
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