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Film Study: The Nets new offense

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Elsa

This is how the Nets offense should look.

With a roster built around perimeter scoring threats and one offensive force in the paint, the Nets should be swinging the ball around the three-point line, cutting off the ball to get easy eight footers, and then pounding it into Brook Lopez for easy finishes. It may have taken the fourth coach in three seasons in Brooklyn to realize it, but it seems as if Lionel Hollins has figured out how to get the Brooklyn Nets efficient offensive looks.

This my friends is the flex offense, ran in high schools everywhere, but most notably with Jerry Sloan in Utah. Sloan made a living off this offense and made the likes of Deron Williams (!) and Carlos Boozer into household names. It is simply a motion offense that is a series of down screens and cross screens. You can learn more about it here. This is standard action in the set, and it is supposed to open up driving lanes for typical guards—big men like Lopez who can put the ball on the floor apply—to take it to the rim or get three-point looks for wings coming off down screens from the big on the elbow. It is continuous motion and even though it is so simplistic, teams struggle to keep up. In the above clip, after one time through all of the flex actions, Lopez looks off DeMarcus Cousins and takes the ball to the rim, through an open lane which was created by Deron Williams going out to the deep corner (a cardinal flex rule), and Lopez finishes and draws the foul.

Here is another play that features the flex offense from the Nets first game overseas. Here, it is not a typical play because Joe Johnson is a little out of position, but Deron Williams does get pushed out beyond the arc while trying to down screen Derrick Williams. Mirza Teletovic, Derrick Williams’ man, is open and now has a driving lane right down the middle. Deron Williams though as opposed to clearing out to the corner knows that Teletovic is taking this to the rack or is going to find his point guard open at the three-point line. Williams stays in place, and gets an open three. The great thing about the flex offense is that everyone can play every position and that all positions are flexible. DWill could easily slide down to the corner after the ball gets swung back around just as easy as he can remain at the top of the key. The offense gives players freedom, something that on-ball creators such as Williams, Lopez and Joe Johnson need.

Here, the Nets also set up in the flex set, a box formation with one player on either side in the corner, ready to cut through on a screen coming across from the weak side. Although, with the freedom that comes in the offense, Johnson gets the ball on the low post and decides he is going to take his man one-on-one. Johnson backs down his man and draws the attention of another Kings defender, Carl Landry, who is defending Mirza Teletovic. Landry has to help under the basket to prevent an easy Johnson layup, so Johnson just simply finds a wide-open Mirza in the corner, who nails it. This brings up something else that has been a key development through the Nets first three preseason games: ball movement.

This is not the Nets of the past where the ball gets stuck on one side and one wing tries to take his man off the dribble, this is a club that swings the ball around the perimeter, in and out of the post, looking for the best shot. This team passes up good shots from great ones. Case and point in the clip above. This was not necessarily in the flex offense, but Teletovic (a score-first player) gets a mismatch on a post up. Realizing the defense is adjusting to defend that post up, Mirza finds Johnson on the wing wide open, who gives a pretty touch pass to the open Bojan Bogdanovic. With Bogdanovic in the starting lineup, the Nets will have much more movement and better ball movement than they did with Pierce. The Croatian can create for himself, although he isn’t as much of a scorer that Pierce is; still, his court vision is phenomenal.

This is the new Nets offense, and it is for the better.