Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Scouting Thoughts: Milwaukee Flexs, Beasley on the Blocks, Curry's Footwork, More

Welcome to The Painted Area to those of you possibly visiting for the first time via the TrueHoop Network. We are very excited to be a part of the network launch - we have a great deal of respect for Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz and our blogging colleagues in the network, and we're honored that they asked us to join.

Without further ado, let's get to some quick-hitter observations from the last week or so in the world of hoops.

- Milwaukee Flexs: Nice to see that Scott Skiles has decided to install some flex sets into the Bucks offensive playbook. (More info: Utah's flex continuity O.) Can't recall seeing too much flex offense during his stint in Chicago. But some flex sets could have probably helped get some easy close-range shots for a Chicago team that had trouble getting to the basket. The Bucks look to be running a fairly basic flex set. Though, the few times I've seen the Bucks, they were far too concerned with looking for the elbow jumpers off the flex as opposed to looking for lay-ups & quick peel-n-seal post-ups off of the baseline cut/screen action. The Jazz they ain't.

- Give KG the Cold (Left) Shoulder: Probably not a terribly novel idea, but defenses need to try to force Garnett to turn over his left shoulder. He just loves to turn into his jumper over his right shoulder. Does not really matter which block, he wants to go right shoulder. It's not like he can't go left shoulder, he just loves going over his right.

- Beasley on the Blocks: Probably, like most everyone else, we were hoping for a better rookie campaign from Miami's Michael Beasley. Sometimes, we get worried about his lackadaisical approach, where he looks to be moving at half-speed, combined with half-hearted finishes at the rim. But we don't think he should take all the blame - we'd like to see Miami call more post-ups for Beasley on the low blocks. He's getting most of his looks at the elbows either off of pick-n-pops or spot-ups off of Wade/Chalmers ball screens. He's become too perimeter-oriented for my taste, and will sometimes hold the ball too long in iso situations, which often leads to well-contested drives. Think a better mixture of inside-outside could help his game.

- On Stephen Curry and Footwork: Well established that the Davidson prospect can drill from anywhere with his super-soft stroke (almost as sweet as his father's). No secret he's not a tremendous athlete, but has the ability to create space for himself thanks to great ball-handling & polished footwork. Has a very nice step-back move, especially when heading to his left. Also, has a killer crossover move where he can step back into a jumper. Definitely think he will be a defensive liability in the NBA, and do wonder how well he can finish deep in the lane.

But when you're not either a superb athlete or long for your position, one way to overcome physical shortcomings is to combine good ball-handling with sweet footwork, especially for perimeter players. It's an alternate way to create space for yourself vs. quicker, longer opponents. Two examples who come to mind are Brandon Roy & Steve Nash. Though Brandon is a better athlete than most realize, he has taken his game to all-star levels because of his adept ball-handling & advanced footwork. This is why I think Curry can be a pretty nice player at the next level. Maybe not an all-star, but a pretty solid starting pg.

[And one from M. Haubs:]
- Are We Being Van Gundyist?: We were really impressed with the Orlando Magic on their recent 4-0 Western road trip which included wins in L.A., S.A. and Denver. We're especially impressed with the defensive performance that Stan Van Gundy is wringing out of personnel which seems subpar defensively on paper.

In many ways, Stan's work seems similar to what brother Jeff did in seeming to get his Rockets teams to absolutely maximize their talent during the regular season. We used to have the feeling that JVG's Houston teams struggled in the playoffs in part b/c they played so remarkably close to 100% of their potential night-in and night-out during the season that they couldn't take it to another level come springtime.

We wondered - as we listened to Stan scream at his ballclub during a timeout vs. the Lakers - if Orlando might experience a similar phenomenon?

Are we being Van Gundyists to suggest such a thing? Probably. Stan's Magic are much deeper in terms of offensive weapons than Jeff's Rockets ever were, and Stan did take Miami to the brink of the Finals in '05, after all, only to be derailed by a D-Wade injury. Still, we tend to think Stan might have a Skiles-like run in O-Town, where he burns bright for a short period of time, but then his players burn out on him.


At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is why I think Curry can be a pretty nice player at the next level. Maybe not an all-star, but a pretty solid starting pg."

Yeah just like JJ Reddick....

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you, by chance, a Bobcats scout? Stick to your day job, my friend...

At 12:08 PM, Blogger jay aych said...

I kinda expected someone to mention JJ. And I even debated mentioning him in my piece.

But the key difference between the JJ & Curry, is Curry is a much, MUCH better ball-handler than Redick. And this was kinda the emphasis of my post: ball-handling & footwork can mask lack of athleticism & size.

JJ was/is strictly a 2-guard, while Curry has the goods to play the point & create space for himself at the next level way better than JJ.

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