Peyton Manning and the spread pick-and-roll

Peyton Manning is often described as a wizard, and genius, and all that may be true. But as Grantland’s Chris Brown writes, he didn’t earn that reputation by mastering complex plays.

His story on Manning and the Bronco offense that No. 18 imported from his time with the Colts got me thinking about, what else, basketball, and specifically about the effecitiveness of the spread pick-and-roll offense.

The obvious NBA parallel to Manning and his simple-but-unstoppable “Dig” and “Dag” plays (more on that in a bit) is Steve Nash, who captained the best offense in the NBA for a number of years relying almost exclusively on the spread pick-and-roll and the occasional quick-hitter.

The reason that the spread pick-and-roll worked so marvelously for the Suns then and continues to be an effective look today for teams like the Knicks, Spurs and Rockets, is that it’s a simple play that can only be defended a few different ways. So, when an offense runs it over and over, it has the opportunity to figure out how the defense is going to approach that play and then can react accordingly. Here’s Brown on Manning’s offense:

By using a small number of personnel groups — typically either three wide receivers and a tight end, or two wide receivers and two tight ends — it limited the number of possible responses from the defense and made it easier for Manning to diagnose its weak spots from both a speedy no-huddle (used whenever a defense tried to substitute) and a regular pace of play.

The small number of plays essentially put the full offense at Manning’s disposal at any time, and by combining few formations with few plays, both veterans and newcomers to the offense had their acclimation eased by the small

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HoopSpeak Network

Technique of the Week: Creasing the ball screen

Technique of the Week is a HoopSpeak feature that highlights the technical nuances that makes great players special and role players meaningful

Technique: Creasing the ball screen

Why it’s important:

Despite all the advancements in the bodies and abilities of NBA players, one thing has remained constant: nothing beats a good old fashioned pick-and-roll. Well, nothing except the advanced pick-and-roll techniques being taught in the NBA today. The pick-and-roll is the quintessential basketball play because it involves two only two people, but the potential permutations of each instance extend infinitely. Stan Van Gundy is said to have a top secret notebook devoted to the many, many ways to pick-and-roll. It’s hundreds of pages long and written in Jameer Nelson’s blood. There’s probably a few pages in that tome devoted to creasing the screen, which the most creative and crafty pick-and-roll practitioners will do to make this simple action even more difficult to defend. (Hat tip to Brett Koremenos for passing this terminology on to me. He claims to have heard it from an NBA player development trainer).

Some guards like Russell Westbrook and Ty Lawson would likely prefer to get a running start at the rim instead of curling laterally across the court, but depending on the defensive scheme, that sideways motion may be the best way to find breathing room. Today’s defense isn’t just about guarding people, but space. On pick-and-rolls, typically the defenders want to corral the dribbler and, generally speaking, the big man wants to slow the ballhandler enough to allow the ballhandler’s man to recover while rotations in the back of the defense momentarily cover the rolling big man.

But creasing upsets that plan by, in effect, twice screening the on-ball defender. It creates space where there was none, in a soft pocket of

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NBA Playbook’s Sebastian Pruiti Helps Destroy The Looney Toons

As a new affiliate of the ESPN TrueHoop Network, I’m eager to exploit my membership to tap some of the best basketball noggins around. Last week, I got in touch with the THN’s resident game film guru, Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook to ask him a ridiculous question I hoped would inspire him to reveal some killer plays. He didn’t disappoint. Here are two plays Sebastian would bring with him to the other side of the galaxy:

Beckley: Sebastian, imagine if you will, that the MonStars have returned to Earth in SpaceJam Part Deux: The Bloodening. The recession has reached their home planet, so they are once again hoping to enslave the Looney Toons and the NBA’s greatest player, this time LeBron James. As part of their plan to reverse their previous misfortune at the hands of Jordan and Fudd, they’ve hired you for the price of a majority share in Moron Mountain (which you plan to rename). The diminutive extraterrestrials are counting on you to teach them the very best NBA plays available.

Unfortunately for you, these aliens don’t understand the NBA and team building at all. That’s why the original MonStar lineup was a baffling combination of talents including Mugsy Bogues, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Shawn Bradley. They did a little better this time, but not much:

(Cut to MonStars sitting in various NBA arenas, scouting talent)

Announcer’s voices from each arena:

…Yao Ming is simply a giant who rules this land with an iron fist!..

…Dwight Howard is ripping Brian Cardinal limb from limb!…

…Paul Pierce is tossing 17 foot daggers into the heart of this Milwaukee Bucks team!..

…Carmelo Anthony is playing in another time, another space, another dimension, he’s not of this world!…

…Look at Brandon Jennings turn on the hyperjets,

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