Having mastered just about everything there was to do on the perimeter, it looks like Chris Paul has decided to expand his game to the post. This year the Clippers are experimenting with a couple post looks for Paul that have been devastatingly effective.
The first is a scenario that will be familiar to anyone who has watched Carmelo Anthony over the last few years: the high-post iso. The Clippers often don’t even screen for Paul, instead they just let him claim a spot on the floor and enter the ball to him from the top of the key. From there, Paul goes to work:
You might notice that Paul is finding a lot of success doing something for which other players are often criticized: jabbing a bunch with his baseline foot then shooting. In his defense, he’s made 7-11 on these type of shots, what you see above is every one of his post-up jumpers from the season. Paul’s rocker step is nasty, and it’s no surprise that a player who is so accurate shooting on the move would be even better with his feet set. You can see Paul’s strength on these plays as he gains position; he’s like a 6-0 Zach Randolph.
He doesn’t shift the defense much now, but you can bet that once teams have seen this look enough, they will treat these Paul possessions more like Anthony’s, and start sending soft double teams his way. Obviously Paul is a dynamite passer, so expect him to find cutters when that happens.
The other interesting thing the Clippers are doing on these plays is setting a ball screen for Paul once he has post-up position.
This is a nightmare to defend because Paul is so accurate when he can set his feet from 15 feet. With Griffin as his screener, a hard switch is dicey because Paul can counter by simply lobbing the ball toward the rim, or simply take the switch and isolate against a slow-footed big man. In the clip above, he misses the shot on such a read, but Ryan Hollins easily wins the offensive rebound because a point guard ends up trying to box him out.
The Celtics have experienced success doing something similar with Rajon Rondo, but Rondo actually prefers to back his man down and go over the top, whereas Paul is simply making it more difficult to defend his preferred midrange shooting spots.
Watching the Clippers this year one gets the sense they are testing the waters with this look as a way to get Paul the ball in his comfort zones without making him dribble for 15 seconds to get in position. Although there’s a clip of Paul isolating against Thabo Sefolosha from the elbow, for the most part he’s attacked players more his size like Tony Parker and Damian Lillard. It hasn’t developed into an action nearly as dynamic as Paul in the high pick-and-roll, but against certain matchups it’s a nearly fool-proof way to get Paul the shot he wants.