Analyzing the Warriors Best Plays

(Written For Blue Man Hoop)

While the Warriors’ offense often boiled down to a simple high pick and roll, they featured many complex set plays and reads to increase scoring efficiency.

The Warriors’ most distinct offensive play is the “Elevator”.  This play is generally initiated out of a Horns set.  Horns begins with two high posts and a player stationed in either corner.  The player intended to come through the double screen, generally Stephen Curry, typically starts the play at the wing.  The Warriors also developed a few misdirection variations of the elevator play.  In one version, Curry will begin with the ball at the top of the court and make a pass to the wing. He then runs towards the corner, typical of a horns set, but quickly reverses direction and cuts back up through the double screen.

While it appears to rely on a single outcome, the beauty of the elevator play is that if the initial action is well defended it flows directly into a basic horns set.  The Warriors will generally simply have the two big men who set the elevator screens run a double screen with the ball handler.

The emergence of Klay Thompson as an offensive weapon led to an increased reliance on the “Corners” set.  This constant motion offensive set leads into several screen and rolls, pin downs, and spot up jumpers.  Teams such as the Dallas Mavericks and, most consistently, the Minnesota Timberwolves rely on the Corner as the basis of their offensive system.  While the Warriors were not as committed, their use of this set increased as the year progressed and players became more comfortable with the reads and wrinkles.

The Corner set allows the Warriors to decrease their reliance on Curry as the offensive initiator but, with the pick and roll opportunities, does not limit his role as an on-ball scorer.

Against teams like the Miami Heat that aggressively hedge on and off-ball screens, this set opens opportunities for the Warriors’ excellent passers to find open layups and weak side spot ups for teammates, while more conservative defenses are susceptible to giving the Warriors a damaging extra step on pick and rolls.

The Warriors were often simplistic in their offensive approach.  Basic Flex sets consistently led to high pick and rolls and there was an unnecessary reliance on motionless post ups.  However, many of the wrinkles that were added were very effective in leveraging the Warriors’ significant offensive talents.  As this core gains more experience after an injury-interrupted year, expect an increase in the complexity and effectiveness of many of the Warriors’ sets, as well as the addition of further plays.

Play of the Day: Pacers X-Cuts

(Written for Pelican Debrief)

One action common in the Indiana  Pacers’ offense is the cut across a big man with the ball.  This generally occurs in the high post, but the Pacers use this action in several situations, allowing wings like Paul George to catch the ball on the move off a faux-screen from the big man, and clears space for the big man with the ball if he does not make a pass.

This action is often generated as part of a motion strong set. If the intial pass to the big man in the low post is denied, the Pacers will often run a cross-screen, or simply have the big man flash, to open a pass to the high post, creating an x-cut opportunity.

This X-Cut set has a few interesting wrinkles:

While the Pacers generally rub cutters off a big man in the high post, this set is initiated in the low post, and involves a pre-planned screen by one wing for the other.

Here is another iteration of the low-post x-cut:

This type of action could be useful in the New Orleans Pelicans offense.  It requires the big men to decide between keeping the ball and passing to one of his offensive options, but does not force the big man to create the offensive opportunity.  This decision-making responsibility could help further the development of Anthony Davis, while clearing help defenders could benefit his post game.

Also, allowing Eric Gordon to catch the ball on the move, whether off the high or low post set, would help him create more efficient offensive opportunities.

Adding a weak-side back scree could free shooters for wide-open corner three point attempts, an ideal result for any offensive possession.

Wrinkles such as these will help improve the efficiency of the Pelicans’ offense, and hopefully aide the development of the players.

Areas David Lee Needs To Improve On Defense

Despite his offensive contribution, David Lee’s overall value is limited.  Simply put, Lee is a very bad defensive player.  While the entirety of his defense could use improvement, here are the aspects of defense David Lee could feasibly improve that have the greatest effect on the Warriors.

According to, David Lee allowed 0.94 points per possession against isolations, 277th in the league.  At this point in his career, it is highly unlikely that Lee becomes an above average defender.  He is limited by athleticism and mobility.  Despite his physical disadvantages, many of Lee’s defensive issues are a product of poor fundamentals.  His footwork and initial positioning is often flawed and he has a tendency to bite on most pump fakes.

Here David Lee is defending a big man, LaMarcus Aldridge, in an isolation situation.  First off, Lee’s initial stance is problematic.  He is completely vertical on the catch and barely bends his knees once Aldridge turns to the basket.  Lee’s positioning is also an issue.  He is positioned as if to force Aldridge to his right towards the baseline, as most defenses would.  Lee has his body oriented correctly but is not actually denying Aldridge any lane.  He should be a step closer to the elbow, completely preventing Aldridge form getting to the middle of the court.  There is not enough space for Aldridge to turn the corner going right.

Instead, Lee allows Aldridge to go left into the middle of the lane.  Lee is not quick enough to cut off Aldridge’s progress, displaying his physical deficiencies.  As Aldridge turns back, Lee reveals another one of his defensive flaws.  When he should simply hold his position, Lee jumps forward.  This could prevent Aldridge from taking a shot, though Aldridge had a nice counter move, but moving into rather than holding position against an offensive player generally results in a foul.  According to, Lee commits a shooting foul on 8.6 percent of the isolations he faces.  This, along with non-shooting fouls, increases individual foul trouble and brings opponents into the bonus.

Lee’s positioning and footwork issues also affect him against perimeter players.

Here, Lee is switched onto Tony Parker following a pick and roll.  Against Parker, he should focus on not allowing an open jumper.  Parker will be able to get a relatively easy jumper regardless of Lee’s defense, while allowing him into the lane allows a layup and opens kick out opportunities to higher value threes.  Once switched onto Parker, Lee should immediately sag towards the paint, as it is highly unlikely that Parker takes an off-the-dribble three.  Also, Lee does not position himself well to keep Parker out of the middle of the court.

Lee follows Parker towards the sideline, allowing Parker to cross back over and get to the middle of the key.  This is obviously easier said than done, but Lee should attempt to force Parker to drive baseline, where Parker can be corralled without forcing help defenders to leave wide-open shooters.

Despite several years in the league, Lee does not have the defensive recognition and fundamentals necessary to compensate for his limited athleticism.


In post up situations, Lee’s poor defensive awareness and positioning is the main culprit of his struggles, while limited leaping ability serves to exacerbate these issues.  According to, Lee allows 0.84 points per play to post-ups, 159th in the league. Lee’s on ball post defense is poor.  He does not have the length to contest most shots and, as his unnecessary step towards LaMarcus Aldridge shows, he generally practices poor individual defensive technique.  He commits a shooting foul on 12.2 percent of post up situations and often will place both hands on the back of an offensive player, warranting an automatic whistle.

However, despite his significant on-ball struggles, David Lee’s post-up weakness is likely a product of poor positioning and off-ball defense.

On this possession, the Warriors’ are playing zone.  Though many defenses utilize weak side zone principles anyway, a zone defense typically requires increased defensive awareness from big men, who must now deal with baseline cutters and post movement in addition to help responsibilities.  Here, Lee loses track of Kosta Koufos as he stands out of bounds (an action that may soon be disallowed).  Even after noticing Koufos, Lee does not fully engage, allowing Koufos to cut to the middle of the lane for ideal post position.

Even in man-to-man defense, Lee often allows deep post position, especially to roll men and after cross screens.  He does not often appear to recognize the importance of post position and is rarely gives the effort necessary to force opponents out of this position.  Again, Lee’s effort and positioning lead to defensive struggles.

Pick and Roll: 

According to, Lee allows only 0.6 points per play to roll men, 10th best in the league!  However, this disguises the damaging effect of Lee’s pick and roll defense.  In the last couple seasons, the Warriors have reconstructed their defense to compensate for Lee’s poor pick and roll defense.  I covered the reconstruction of the Warriors’ pick and roll defense when describing how assistant coach Mike Malone affected the Warriors:

“To limit the damage wrought by their big men’s lack of lateral mobility, the Warriors often defend pick and rolls with the “Ice “coverage.

In Ice, the guard attempts to prevent the ball-handler from using the screen, while the big man stays below screen-level on the side to which the ball handler is being forced. Notice how Stephen Curry has jumped in front of Tony Parker to prevent him from using Tiago Splitter’s screen while Andrew Bogut stays in the paint to contain penetration. Miscommunication may lead to wide open driving lanes and more defensive pressure is placed on the guards, but Ice allows the Warriors’ big men to effectively contain pick and rolls.

Another addition to the Warriors’ pick-and-roll defense under Malone’s tenure is increased help from wing defenders.  In the image, Klay Thompson has dropped into the paint, leaving his man in the corner open, in an attempt to contain Splitter’s role. This strategy has been effective in limiting the productivity of opposing roll men.  According to, the Warriors allowed only 0.9 points per play to role men, the second-best rate in the league.

The results of this strategy are entirely beneficial.  The commitment to shutting down role men often leaves opposing shooters open in the corners. Imagine Parker driving a few steps towards the left elbow, forcing Bogut to commit to containing him. Parker could then pass to a rolling Splitter. Thompson would attempt to deny Splitter’s path to the basket, and Kawhi Leonard would likely be wide open in the corner. That and similar scenarios play out several times per game versus the Warriors, who surrendered the most three-point attempts and corner three point attempts per 48 minutes this season

David Lee is slow laterally and practically immobile when changing direction.  He often struggles to contain ball handlers in “Ice” coverage, a strategy used to limit his weaknesses, and is slow to recover to his man, forcing the Warriors to compensate by having help defenders rotate down to the roll man.

Though a lack of athleticism may be the root of his defensive issues, much of Lee’s defensive futility is generated by poor positioning, footwork, and awareness.  It may be unlikely that any significant changes occur at this point in his career but even minor improvements to the non-athleticism based components of defense will increase David Lee’s value to the Warriors.

San Antonio’s Excellence: A Lesson For The Warriors

(Written For Blue Man Hoop)

In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs made a Finals record 16 three pointers en route to the third largest victory in Finals history.  Other factors contributed to the victory but it was the three point shooting, led by Danny Green, 7-for-9, and Gary Neal, 6-fo-10, that blew open the game.

The 16-of-32 three point shooting is incredible but more significant is the ease with which San Antonio found open three point opportunities.

The Spurs understand Miami’s defensive system and are able to take advantage of its flaws.  Here is an example indicative of a common breakdown in the Miami defense.

This is a variation on the “Loop” set San Antonio often runs.  After passing to Manu Ginobili at the top of the court, Tony Parker runs through a series of screens, curls towards the ball, and receives a pass from Ginobili.  San Antonio knows that Miami is a very aggressive pick and roll trapping team.  The loop often flows directly into a pick and roll with the last screener serving as the roll man after Parker makes the catch.

Picture 1

On this play, Duncan expects Chris Bosh to trap Parker off his screen and immediately drops into post-position.  Parker makes a nice pass into Tim Duncan, getting him the ball before Bosh is able to recover.  This forces LeBron James to switch off Kawhi Leonard to guard Tim Duncan, leaving Dwyane Wade to defend Leonard.

Leonard instantly recognizes that Miami has overloaded the strong side and moves to basket, forcing Wade to stay tightly on him.  This leaves Mike Miller to defend both Ginobili, his original man, and Danny Green, now in the corner. Duncan, and excellent passer, finds Ginobili, who swings the ball to Green for a wide-open corner three.

Picture 2

San Antonio uses a clever misdirection to further take advantage of Miami’s defense.  On a typical Loop set, Green would be positioned in the left corner.  At the beginning of the play, he appears to be headed to this spot but stops at the post area near Tim Duncan.  Green than fakes as if he were setting a screen, another common variation of the Loop, but cuts back and runs to the opposite corner.

Thought this shot was missed, San Antonio was able to find open opportunities out of similar sets designed to take advantage of Miami’s pick and roll traps.

So, what does this have to do with the Warriors?

To achieve future success, the Warriors will have to consistently overcome defenses geared to stop them.  Like San Antonio has done to Miami, the Warriors must be able to acknowledge and take advantage of defensive tendencies, a test in both innovation and execution.

How Can The Warriors’ Front Court Improve In 2013-2014?

(Written For Blue Man Hoop)

Carl Landry is expected to leave as a free agent this summer.  Despite this, the Warriors’ frontcourt should be able to improve going into next season, complimenting an already elite backcourt.

The easiest route to a superior frontcourt comes through internal improvements. Improved health from Andrew Bogut could give him increased mobility and comfort in the offense, potentially improving the Warriors both offensively and defensively.  Festus Ezeli, Bogut’s back up, was a rookie in the 2012-13 season and should improve naturally as he increases his understanding of NBA rotations and positioning.  Ezeli’s offensive game was close to non-existent this season, mostly due to an inability to catch less-than-perfect pass, especially when on the move.  If Ezeli’s “hands” improve, he may become more of a threat to finish pick and rolls, secure offensive rebounds, and take advantage of opportunities when opposing big men abandon him to play help defense.

At power-forward, Draymond Green showed promise during the Warriors’ playoff run.  Green is already a very good defender and has potential as a stretch four offensively.  He shot only 20.9 percent from three in his first year but improved to 39.1 percent during the playoffs.  Even as a poor shooter, Green’s position on the perimeter forces defenders to a few steps further out of the paint that David Lee typically would offensively.  Though inconsistent, Green often shows good court vision and was a very good rebounder in college.  He finished the season with an assist percentage of only 7.0 percent and a total rebound percentage of 13.5 percent (many of his minutes came at small forward, affecting rebounding numbers) but has the fundamentals and physical abilities to be an above average rebounder.  Any offensive improvement from Green would be a welcome addition to his already excellent defense and could greatly improve the Warriors’ frontcourt.

Harrison Barnes, like fellow rookie Green, had success playing power-forward during the playoffs.  Though it is unlikely that the Warriors rely on Barnes as a full-time power-forward, stretches of small ball could help the Warriors replicate their playoff success.  At power-forward, Barnes is able to attack slower players from the perimeter and has fewer defensive big men to account for at the rim. Many power-forwards are not accustomed to defending players on the perimeter, giving Barnes, a 35.9 percent three point shooter, open opportunities. Even when opponents add a perimeter player to match the Warriors, defensive help schemes often force opponents to leave open shooters on the perimeter against four out lineups.

Both Barnes and Green will also get significant time at small forward next season.  The off-season improvements of both players will change the Warriors outlook at both small-forward and power-forward.

While a free-agent signing is unlikely due to the Warriors’ salary situation, there are several valuable front court players on the market this offseason that could potentially be obtained through sign and trades or outright signings using the mid-level exception.  Players like Marreese Speights, Elton Brand, Earl Clark, Lamar Odom, Chris Anderson, Mike Dunleavy, and a few others could all potentially be signed under the mid-level exception.  However, that the Warriors choose to sign a power-forward if they are willing to enter the luxury tax, as retaining Jarrett Jack is likely a higher priority for the front office.

The Warriors could pursue alternative routes, including a sign and trade or actual trade but most of the necessary frontcourt improvements can likely be made within the orginazation.

Devising The Warriors’ Offseason Plan

(Written for Blue Man Hoop)

The Golden State Warriors received some bad news last week.  Yes, Stephen Curry’s ankle is still attached to his leg, and no, Andrew Bogut has not lost his affinity for looping behind the back passes, nor has he lost his consistently entertaining Australian accent.  Instead, the NBA reported that expected salary cap for next season is now 58.5 million, only slightly higher than the current cap. Prior estimates expected a salary cap closer to 60 million dollars, which would result in a higher luxury tax line.  With a lower tax level, the Warriors’ salary issues are amplified, leaving even less flexibility in a very important offseason.  Here are four paths the Warriors could take this off-season, each with its own rewards, detriments, and underlying philosophy.

Option One:   Convince Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson to leave the team to pursue careers as comedians, thus voiding their contracts.  As their on court performance shows, Biedrins and Jefferson have already mastered the art of comedy.  While the basketball world appreciates their current comedic endeavors, Biedrins and Jefferson could appeal to a much wider audience.  As neither player learned the playbook, their on-court improvisation would likely translate to the stage.  Removing Biedrins and Jefferson’s contracts would resolve the Warriors binding salary problems with minimal detriment to the two, save for many millions of dollars.  But really, what do ten million dollars matter when you could bring smiles to millions of people?

Option Two:   Last season, the Warriors traded Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler to get below the tax line.  While it saved money during the year, it was a move for the future.  Teams that are in the luxury tax for three straight are subject to a more punitive luxury tax.  By avoiding the luxury tax last year, the Warriors allowed themselves to enter the luxury tax this coming season with a three year barrier prior to repeater tax exposure.  Re-signing Jarrett Jack at anything remotely close to market value would push the Warriors over the luxury tax line.

The Warriors only have 33 million dollars in guaranteed salary in the 2014-2015 season.  Do not confuse this with future flexibility, not including a potential Jack extension.  But future free agent beware, this number will not hold.  Including a hypothetical Jack extension, the Warriors would have around 40 million dollars guaranteed to only six players.  Filling out a roster with anything other than players on rookie or minimum contracts would push the Warriors close to the luxury tax with Klay Thompson and the 2012-13 rookie class’s extensions pending.

For those who believe the Warriors current core can succeed as players develop, re-signing Jack allows the Warriors to maintain current levels of play while still planning for the future.  However, the reliance on Jack may limit the development of the Warriors’ perimeter players.  Stephen Curry was often used in an off-ball role as he shared the court with Jack.  Stephen Curry is already an elite offensive player, but the reliance on Jack, especially at the end of games, could limit his development as a consistent player.  Jack’s presence prevents Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes from taking over as secondary ball handlers.  Though both would likely struggle in that role, Thompson and Barnes’ future dribbling ability will help dictate their future levels of play.  Jack also keeps Kent Bazemore, a potential defensively impactful backup point guard, out of the rotation, limiting his ability to improve.  Jack may raise the Warriors short-term ceiling, but his long term effect is unknown.

Option Three:  Adding a superstar to an already-good team without cap space is very challenging.  Unlikely though it may be, Dwight Howard presents the opportunity for the Warriors to add an all-star level player to the roster.  I already addressed many of the pros and cons of pursuing Howard, one of the few superstars potentially attainable.

The Warriors almost certainly must be willing to surrender a young player to acquire Howard and risk upsetting players if the trade does not go through, but the rewards would be a player who raises the Warriors potential to heights not seen in many, many years.

Option Four:  The philosophical antithesis to option two, the Warriors could let Jack and Landry walk and look to trade David Lee.  The Warriors had success in the playoffs without Lee but this is less about short-term success and more about the future.  Lee is set to receive $44,383 over the next three years, an unjustified burden on the already financially bound Warriors.  Especially given his salary, Lee may limit the Warriors ceiling.

Interior defense and pick and roll coverage are vital to a good defense.  The laterally slow David Lee cowers at the mere mention of a speedy ball handler (or rather, waits five seconds to react and then cowers), and is still confused as to why a disappointed glare is not enough to stop opponents at the rim.

To accommodate for Lee’s defensive shortcomings, the Warriors over-compensate with help defense.  On this Parker-Diaw pick and roll, Klay Thompson comes all the way to the edge of the paint, knowing Lee is likely to be late recovering to Diaw.  The Warriors often help this aggressively on the roll-man side when he is in the pick and roll, often resulting in open corner three point attempts for the opponent. David Lee is one of the worst interior defenders in the NBA.

However, his struggles are not limited to help and pick and roll defense.  In addition to being a very bad defender in two of the most vital aspects of NBA defense, Lee struggles to defend his own man, allowing 0.94 points per play in isolation, 276th in the league, according to

While teams can generally hid poor perimeter defenders, bad interior defenders are often crippling.  Lee’s contract and defense place a potential ceiling on the Warriors.  With increased playing time for Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, and the potentially trade return at power-forward, the Warriors could replace Lee’s passing and scoring with the valuable spacing he does not provide to keep the Warriors functional offensively. Though letting Lee, Landry, and Jack walk may cause the Warriors to decline next season, they would be in a better position for the future.

As a younger fan, perhaps I do not appreciate the rare success the Warriors had this season.  A step back after the first step forward in a long time may discourage fans who are content with consistent playoff appearances.  It is difficult to envision a championship team built around Lee’s salary and defense, though as Kevin Garnett so eagerly reminds us, “anything is possible.”

Ben McLemore Vs. Kansas State First Half Breakdown

0:00    This defensive breakdown in transition by Kansas begins when McLemore takes a step towards the Kansas State ball handler, as if to defend him, then continues to run towards his man. Had McLemore picked up the ball-handler, the defensive big man would not have been forced to and could run to defend the basket.  This would have left a player open on the left wing but would likely have prevented the easy layup.


0:08    Out of control, McLemore throws a bad pass, leading to a turnover.  An extra dribble in the lane would allow him to further draw the help defender and have a better passing angle to the man in the high post.  Also, McLemore may have been able to make a pass to the big man under the basket had he not gone at such a lateral angle on his gather.


0:15    This time McLemore gets all the way to the rim on a nice drive that includes a faked change of direction to force the defensive big man to commit to a bad defensive angle.


0:22    McLemore appears to keep his head down while dribbling, causing him to miss the big man on the open role and get caught off guard by the aggressive defender, leading to a turnover.


0:28    The on-ball defender gets caught on a screen and McLemore helps to prevent a drive, leaving his man open from three one pass away.  Possibly due to a teammate’s presence, McLemore does not recover aggressively on the close-out.


0:40    Though he commits a foul, McLemore’s speed in recovering defensively is impressive.


0:43    At least McLemore won’t be intimidated by the NBA 3-point line.


0:49    McLemore does a good job running in transition, resulting in an open lane and a free throw opportunity.  He also showcases his athleticism with the explosion to the rim.


0:58    McLemore attempts to anticipate the screen and loses his man off-ball, but recovers before the offense can take advantage and plays impressive on-ball defense.  McLemore should not have taken his eyes completely off his man after seeing him move towards the original down screen.  It varies by team, but most NBA defenses avoid attempting to overplay off-ball screens, choosing instead to have defenders follow as tightly as possible with the assistance of off-ball hedges by big man to prevent easy asses when the offensive player gains space.


1:08    McLemore again launches from deep, this time for a better result.  He appeared to be perfectly on-balance, landing in the exact spot from which he jumped.


1:12    Another nice jump shot.  Teams will be more than respectful of McLemore’s shooting, giving him the opportunity to attack close outs.


1:21    McLemore closes out effectively, acknowledging that an open corner three is a far more damaging result than an open mid-range jumper, and has the athleticism to recover and prevent an opportunity in the lane.


1:29    McLemore anticipates a telegraphed pass and finishes in transition with a euro-step.


1:35    McLemore gathers the defensive rebound off a nice effort and comfortably pushes in transition. McLemore appears comfortable dribbling at high speeds and finishing in transition, a skill often absent in young players and shooters of his caliber.


1:46    Though he could have held the box –out longer, McLemore is in position and grabs a rebound.


1:53    Wary of the post-up, McLemore helps off his man in the corner.  He closes out and gets a hand up but does not really discourage a shot attempt.  Though a week of seeing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard close out on Heat shooters may have given me unfair expectations, McLemore should look to be more aggressive on his close outs.


1:57    McLemore takes longer getting around a screen that he should, forcing the hedging big men to remain on the perimeter long enough for the offensive big man to roll into the lane.


2:03    Though he deflects the pass, this is bad transition defense by McLemore, who allows the offensive player to get ahead of him on the break.


2:13    Another nice jump shot off an action he will likely go through many times in his career.

Ben McLemore Versus Iowa State Second Half and OT Breakdown

0:00    McLemore jumps off his man to attempt to cover for a teammates defensive confusion.  He is momentarily out of position, but only due to a teammate’s mistake, and does a good job recovering to his man while denying a pass.  In some NBA defensive systems, over-helping, especially one pass off the ball, is discourage, however HIs ability to recognize an immediate threat and then instantly recover when his teammate is back in position shows a defensive focus not generally attributed to McLemore


0:08    Though it is semi-contested and early in the shot clock, this is a good shot from McLemore.  The drawn foul creates a beneficial result, but more importantly, McLemore, a good three point shooter often criticized for being too passive takes advantage of an opportunity.  Generally, decent looks from the corner three are very efficient shots.   The back screen to free up a corner three point shooter is often used in the NBA during out of bounds plays and for weak side shooters.  McLemore does a good job squaring to the basket, but is fading slightly to the side.  With consistent footwork and continued practice reps, McLemore should be able to improve his already strong off-ball game.


0:12    McLemore makes a nice pass to the roll man.  However, he appeared to pick up his dribble before finding the open man, and had to scramble to eventually made the right play.  Compared to most NBA defensive possessions, Iowa State’s pick and roll defense was flawed, leaving an easy pass to a scorer in a high-efficiency position.  The pick and roll will be key to McLemore’s development as a scorer.


0:20    Here, McLemore gets into the lane off a pick and roll and makes a nice push shot over the defensive big man.  McLemore’s original defender was taken out of the play by a likely illegal screen.  On most possession, McLemore’s defender will be recovering to harass him as he makes the hesitation move at the free throw line.   Though he made the shot, he should try to get all the way to the rim when he has the defender baking up in a similar situation.


0:26    Though it likely went unacknowledged as the shot was made, McLemore’s box out is significant.  McLemore keeps his man on his back, preventing any offensive rebound possibility.  The rebounder gets all the credit, but teammate box outs often allow the eventual rebounder to gain possession.


0:30    Though he is relatively open.  This is not very good shot selection.  He takes a long two when he could have curled into the lane after receiving the pass, and set up a better shot for himself or teammates.  Also, McLemore’s exaggerated backpedal after the release indicates an off-balance shot.


0:38    McLemore gets caught on the screen, then recovers at a bad angle.  He should have cut parallel to the free throw line to cut off the driving lane while remaining able to contest the jump shot but instead moves diagonally towards the ball handler, allowing the ball handler to blow by the recovery.


0:44    McLemore gets caught ball watching and is caught off-guard by the kick out to his man in the corner.


0:50    McLemore completely turns his head away from his man, a signal for any offensive player to cut.   Again, McLemore was caught ball watching on defense.


0:56    This is a bad foul, but these mistakes happen to every young player.


1:06    This good effort play was preceded by another example of attentive defensive rebounding positioning from McLemore


1:12    McLemore was right not to force a shot and instead pass to a teammate.  However, he could have created a better chance at a shot attempt for himself had he rubbed directly off the screen and not taken a hesitation dribble as his defender recovered.  A timely example of what McLemore could have done is given by the San Antonio Spurs, who often have Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker run looping routes to receive a pass and continue their curl into the paint in one motion.


Warriors: Significant Free Agent Signings Since 2002

(Written For Blue Man Hoop)

With the Golden State Warriors ready to enter a potentially formative off-season, here is a chronological reflection on the Warriors’ recent free agent successes.

Speedy Claxton: 2003

Claxton played 46 games for the Warriors in the 2004-05 season before being traded along with Dale Davis to the New Orleans Hornets for Baron Davis.  Claxton played 32.6 minutes per game, averaging 13.1 points and 6.2 assists per game.  He was not a very efficient scorer, with an adjusted field goal percentage of 44.1 percent, but managed to attempt 5.1 free throw attempts per 36 minutes.   While his production was decent, Claxton is significant as a key piece to Baron Davis trade.

Brian Cardinal:  2004 

After being waived by the Washington Wizards the previous season, Cardinal signed a one year deal with the Warriors.  In 76 games played, he average 21.5 minutes and 9.6 points per game.  In his lone year with Golden State, The Custodian sure cleaned up.  Cardinal lead the league in true shooting percentage at 62.6 percent, had a plus-20 rating differential, and recorded .212 win shares per 48 minutes, clearly indicative of the elite player we all know Cardinal was, not an insignificant role player.

Kelenna Azubuike:  2007

On January 2nd, 2007, the Warriors signed Azubuike, then playing for the Fort-Worth Developmental League team to his first professional contract.  Azubuike went on to play 205 games over four seasons with the Warriors before being sent to New York in a trade for David Lee.  Though his career was derailed by injuries, Azuibike gave the Warriors consistent defensive effort and perimeter athleticism, and embodied the reckless mentality that carried (or maybe complimented, you know, tangible things like matchups and defense) the Warriors to their upset of Dallas in the 2007 playoffs.

Corey Maggette:  2008

During the 2008 off-season, the Warriors blew up the “We Believe” core, letting Baron Davis sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, and signed Corey Maggette to a then-and-now ridiculous five year, 48 million dollar contract.  He scored relatively efficiently in his two years with the Warriors but struggled with health issues.  Maggette, often an example of the foolish contracts NBA teams “used to” give, was vilified for his poor effort and has become associated with many of the Warriors’ recent failures.

Dorell Wright:  2008 

The summer before the 2010-11 season, Wright signed a 3 year, 10 million dollar contract with the Warriors.  A decent defender and three point shooter, he played 38.4 minutes his first year as a Warrior, but fell out of favor with Mark Jackson towards the end of his second.  More importantly, Wright was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the three-team trade through which the Warriors acquired Jarrett Jack.

Carl Landry:   2012

Before this season, Landry signed a two year, 8 million dollar contract with the Warriors.  The second year is a player option Landry is expected to drop, allowing the reserve power forward to enter free agency.  Landry served as an efficient scoring big man (True Shooting Percentage of 60.5 percent), was a decent rebounder, and was not fatally flawed defensively.  Though he will likely depart this offseason, Landry was a key to the Warriors’ success.

Kent Bazemore:  2012

The Warriors signed Bazemore after he went undrafted in prior to the season. While Stephen Curry, David Lee, and others dominated on the court, Bazemore made his presence known from the bench.  With Jarrett Jack’s returning next season in doubt and the Warriors flexibility limited, Bazemore may play a vital role on the team sooner than expected.