The Spurs offense remains a work in progress. Though they’ve put up the 7th best halfcourt offense so far this season, per Cleaning the Glass, at 97.1 points per 100 plays, some of the new additions are still learning plays. DeMar DeRozan talked about this after last night’s game with the Pelicans and it was visible in the execution of a play the Spurs ran multiple times in the first half.
The Spurs have used their Center X play several times in the first half pic.twitter.com/CEDdGkgESF— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) November 4, 2018
Call this “DHO DOUBLE.” This is “Blast” action in NBA terminology (5 man handling w/ the Floppy type as you point out). Pop’s visual call looks like he’s pushing a shopping cart. https://t.co/xvRTLjyeEi— Bryan Oringher (@BryanOringher) November 4, 2018
The center pops up to the top of the key and, after receiving the ball, turns and tries to hit either of the two guards, who cut across each other’s paths over the top of the center and into the lane. If neither is open, they each get down screens and come back up to the wing. The first time the Spurs ran the play, midway through the first quarter, DeMar was a little late transitioning into the 2nd half of the play.
When Dante Cunningham comes down to set the screen, it looks like he’s telling DeMar to use the screen to get free on the wing. For some reason, Jrue Holiday lets DeMar go, so he hits the open mid-range jumper, but that’s not the rhythm and flow the play’s supposed to have.
It looked much smoother when the Spurs ran it back again at the beginning of the second quarter.
Every player on the floor has plenty of experience in this offense, and knows exactly what they’re supposed to do and when. Patty and Bryn’s cuts are nearly simultaneous, and the constant motion all over the floor leads to a crack in the Pelican’s defense.
It happens right at the top of the floor when Patty passes to Bryn. Tim Frazier helps off of Patty to stop Bryn’s penetration, a mistake that allows Patty to run to the corner completely uncovered.
The Spurs ran it once again late in the second quarter, but it looked much different this time.
It looks so much different for a couple of reasons. First, the Spurs guards cross underneath the rim, with Patty setting a screen for Marco. Then, Jrue diagnoses the play and calls for the switch before the next screen even happens, effectively negating the advantage for a moment.
This forces Marco to flare out to the corner and shift into a 2-man game with LaMarcus Aldridge. Fortunately for the Spurs, the rest of the Pelicans’ defense took the rest of the play off. After a handoff from LaMarcus, it only took Marco one dribble and a nice ball fake to get a layup.
Plays like this one present numerous options for the offense and hard choices for the defense. They turn every player on the floor into a potential threat when ran as intended. That the Spurs have been able to score somewhat efficiently without their typical crisp execution and while continuing to learn their playbook is both surprising and encouraging. Time and reps will smooth out the hiccups, and based on early returns, should result in a top-10 offense at the least.