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.


Breaking Down Ben Mclemore’s 1st Halft Versus Iowa State


0:00    Mclemore appears hesitant to rotate down to Iowa State big man, allowing the big man to be in position for the offensive rebound had the layup missed. It is hard to blame Mclemore for this because Jeff Withey never fully committed to contest the drive, and Mclemore was likely hesitant to leave his own man open in the corner for a kickout if Withey was not clearly out of position.


0:09    Mclemore is not required to affect this play defensively, but gets into position to make a rotation if necessary then denies his man an opportunity to go for the offensive rebound.


0:15    Mclemore takes a poor angle to get around the screen, the his mistake is emphasized by an uncalled moving screen.   He was trying to deny the pass, but in this situation it may have been easier to go under the screen straight to his man in the corner.  With Mclemore is a good enough defender to prevent his man from beating him baseline, and Iowa State’s spacing would have prevented a drive to the middle of the court.


0:24    Though the high hedge (and the limited ability of college basketball pointguards) prevented a pass, Mclemore should have cut off the rolling big man and denied a pass.  Generally this would have been Withey’s responsibility, but the off ball screen on Withey’s side of the court left an Iowa State shooter open, meaning Withey could not drop all the way into the paint without leaving an open shot and lane for the same man likely to receive the outlet pass off the high pick and roll.  In the NBA, many teams have their wing players “bump” the pick and roll roll man.  Mclemore will have to get used to hurrying into the lane to deny a pass allowing the defensive big man to recover, and sprinting back to cover his man.   Mclemore does appear to make an attempt to do this, but does not really affect the roll man.


0:29    Mclemore looks comfortable coming around the screens, and draws the attention of the strong-side wing defender, who helps one pass off the ball.  Mclemore makes the easy pass to his open teammate.  Also, Mclemore repeats the awareness of rebounding shown earlier by continuing his curl into the lane and attempting to box out a defender.


0:40    This is a poor decision.  There is time left on the shot clock to find a better shot, but Mclemore opts for an off-balance step back.  This is no excuse, but his ability to drive was limited by Kansas’ offensive spacing.  Withey was attempting to post up on the strong side, leaving no room for Mclemore to operate.  Also, notice how Iowa States’ number 13 has his head turned towards Mclemore as his man is running to the opposite side of the court, preventing him from driving middle.


0:44    This play shows Mclemore’s defensive potential, but reveals some flaws.  He is comfortable defending his man above the three point line, and is in position to deny a pass to the big man without allowing a drive.  After the pass, Mclemore turns his head towards the ball and is caught off guard by the cut and screen.  I would criticize Mclemore for choosing to go under the screen, but that was likely an attempt to recover as quickly as possible to the shooter and not the same decision he would have made had he expected the screen.


0:55    Mclemore executes a coordinated euro-step in transition, but cannot get the off-balance shot to fall.  He may have gotten to the rim with another dribble before his move.


1:00    Similar to 0:15, Mclemore chooses to go over an off-ball screen, leaving his man open in the corner.  If he is going to go over off-ball screens, he must be able to get above the screen setter before the ball-handler is in position to throw the pass so that he can deny.  He may have expected McGee to continue to the wing, suggesting Mclemore is not used to guarding good off-ball shooters, something that may be be easily mended by NBA coaching.


1:09    Mclemore attempts to pressure his man near half court, but opens his stance towards the middle of the court, allowing an easy drive.  Perhaps he was trying to deny the screen, but he was not close enough to the screen and the big man was not in position for that defensive strategy.


1:17    Mclemore finds the open space in what appears to be a zone defense, and knocks down an impressive shot.  To the enjoyment of every CYO coach in the country, he immediately follows his own shot.


1:23    Mclemore is not in great position to get the rebound, but the Iowas State big man goes too close to the hoop, allowing Mclemore to take advantage of his athleticism and grab the rebound.

Breaking Down Nerlens Noel’s First Half Versus Texas A&M

0:02    Texas A&M sets a high off-ball screen to free up Fabian Harris.  This leaves two Kentucky players to guard three Texas A&M players on the left side of the floor.  Noel, helped by the Texas A&M big man cutting early, likely in anticipation of a drive, remains in the center of the key long enough to force Harris to commit to the drive.  Noel displays good defensive technique, sliding with Harris and staying directly between him and the basket, and blocks the shot.  Noel was helped by Kentucky’s ability to completely disregard the screener.  In the NBA, that man will likely be able to take the mid-range jumper, but stopping the drive would still be Noel’s primary responsibility.

0:10    In case you didn’t realize, Nerlens Noel is extremely athletic.

0:15    Noel attempts to box out, which is good, but does not really seal his man as he cuts towards the key.

0:21    Again, Noel is much more athletic than his college counterparts.  He both his dive to the rim and jump well, and finishes the dunk.  While this was an offensive rebound, the hard dive to the rim and coordinated finish suggest potential as a pick and roll big man.

0:30    Noel is looking for the block, but the Texas A&M guard gets the shot off over him.  Noel was not in good position on this play, he was too close to the rim, and did not step up towards the driving player.  If Noel just waits at the rim, good players are able to time their shots to get over or around him.  A player like Marc Gasol steps towards the play, hoping to cut off the drive and prevent a shot from even being attempted, rather than going for the block.

0:33    Noel kicks out to Alex Poythress as soon as he is doubled in the post, and Poythress makes the semi-contested three.  This is a nice pass by Noel, who finished the game with 6 assists, however Noel’s post technique appears flawed.  He s leaning back off balance, and his legs are spread too wide for him to be able to make any on-balance move.

0:45    Here, Noel takes advantage of a smaller defender, pounding his way into the lane for a hook shot.  Though the shot goes in, you can see why Noel is not considered a dominant post scorer.  He turns his body before going up with the shot, and the hook appears is more of a throw towards the basket than an a smooth shot.  While he may be able to score on smaller, less athletic defenders, Noel will have to improve his technique before his jump-hook becomes a reliable NBA weapon.

0:53    Here is why Noel has such high defensive potential.  No, he will not be relied upon to guard guards above the three point line, but he shows his mobility and coordination.  Noel is no lumbering, Hasheem Thabeet style big man.  He is mobile enough to help across the lane, hedge and recover on pick and rolls, and guard smaller players on switches.

1:01    While this post move again may not be the smoothest, Noel clearly understands the value of deep post position, and finishes with his left hand, a valuable skill for any NBA player.

1:07    Noel clearly has affected the shot selection of Texas A&M.  Caruso realizes Noel is in position to challenge, and is forced to take a difficult up-and-under.

1:17    On this possession, Noel is not able to cut of Kourtey Roberson’s drive, but stays with him defensively and does not allow an easy shot.  Again, Noel’s mobility is key to his defensive impact.

1:43    Noel’s teammate does not take a very good angle on the screen, allowing the defender to go under without losing any position.  Noel rolls well to the rim, then seals his man in the post, but misses the hook.  Noel should look to move towards the basket and keep his man sealed on the drop-step, but instead steps out laterally from the rim, simply forcing himself off-balance.

1:52    Noel makes a smart pass to Willie Cauley-Stein at the far left elbow, then does a good job avoiding getting in the way of Cauley-Stein’s drive.  Noel could have gone after the offensive rebound, but by stepping back to allow space for the drive, he allowed himself to be boxed out.

2:00    Great anticipation by Noel, another sign of a good defender.

2:10    Noel allows his man to get in between him and the basket in transition, but realizes his mistake as the shot is released, and pushes the Aggie in the back without blatantly fouling.  Noel should have cut off his man’s path to the rim, though this mistake did no damage.

In this first half, Nerlens Noel displayed why he is such a highly valued defensive prospect while flashing potential offensively.  Noel could have been more assertive offensively throughout the game offensively, but made Texas A&M constantly aware of his defensive influence.  In the NBA, Noel could develop into a very good defensive big man, and could potentially fill a Tyson Chandler style roll offensively.  If Noel can develop his post up and passing game to Dwight higher levels, he may be used in the mold of a lower usage version of Dwight Howard offensively.