The Spurs' offense is anything but mechanical. They use sets as a way to start their attack, but how the play develops is not set in stone. Playmakers are allowed to read the floor and make decisions and everyone is expected to be able to adjust to several options. Some of the sets are more complex than others, involving off ball action, hand offs and precise cuts. Others are much simpler, like the Spurs floppy play that has been getting a lot of run in preseason.
The play was used last year, so it can't really be considered a new wrinkle to adjust to LaMarcus Aldridge or the development of Kawhi Leonard, but it certainly seems to fit the strengths of those two. It's probably no coincidence that they've run it much more often than in the past, although some of that can surely be attributed to its simplicity.
The play: Spurs floppy
Essentially, one wing screens for the other under the basket while the big men set up at the block to offer another screen. The screener can also double back and use the pick set by the big man on his side of the floor.
The more straightforward version of how the play ends is with the wing who was screened for taking an open jumper.
Leonard is a terrific mid-range shooter and he was open, so that's a good shot that the team got with a really simple floppy action.
Sometimes opponents navigate screens better than Stanley Johnson did in the above clip and as a result, the wing receives the ball with a defender close to him. In those situations, he can go into a quick pick and roll action with one side of the court cleared.
Leonard splits the defense and drives but he could have started a pick-and-pop with Bonner or even Aldridge. One of the best things about this floppy play is that it takes place early in the shot clock so there's enough time to reverse the ball as well.
Another alternative that can arise from this action is the easy creation of a post up -- without having to telegraph that intention. The bigs are setting the screens on the block, which allows them to get good position while the play develops.
One of the fears of going back to a more post-oriented offense was that the Spurs were going to walk the ball up, wait for Aldridge to settle into his spot, and then make a predictable entry pass. Fortunately we haven't seen much of that. Plays like this one are simply a better way to go about putting Aldridge in good position without sacrificing the ball and player movement that has characterized the Spurs' offense in the recent past.
While preseason is a time for experimentation for most teams, the Spurs need to get their new additions up to speed quickly. A good way to do that is by simplifying the playbook and going with straightforward but effective plays with a number of options.