With a new coach in place, it is tough to really know all that much about the Nets' offensive and defensive schemes until you see them on the court. We do know that Lionel Hollins is planning on running some flex-style sets similar to the one's Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko ran with Jerry Sloan in Utah with the Jazz, but besides that we don't know all that much.
Mike Mazzeo spoke with an NBA scout who knows a bit about Hollins' tendencies as a coach ... along with Sloan's flex offense from Utah and gives an assessment as to how the Nets may play this season.
Pick-and-roll. Pick-and-roll. And more pick-and-roll.
"From what I’ve gathered, I mean, everything [Lionel’s] gonna do will be based off pick-and-roll actions, which is very common, with motion off-the-ball sets and actions, a lot of things where basically you’re running a pick-and-roll on one side of the court and there’s some type of screen or action happening on the opposite side of the court," the scout said. "Then they’re going to switch sides of the floor likely for another pick-and-roll with motions off the ball on the other side too, hoping to create a switch on one or both of those actions to get a mismatch they can exploit in the secondary pick-and-roll."
As for Sloan’s flex offense, which often begins with "UCLA" or flex cuts, the scout said, "It’s a mirror image of what happens on both sides of the floor and the ball rotates elbow to elbow, looking for a cutter along the baseline to the basket. The play never comes to an end unless you shoot or turn the ball over." (To learn more about the flex, watch this video).
The flex gives Williams two advantages: (1) It puts him in opportunities off the ball where he can get easy baskets on cuts to the basket and open looks at catch-and-shoot 3-pointers off screen actions, and (2) it gives the Nets a way to get Williams off the ball without having to play him at shooting guard.
The scout said the flex offense is very different than what Williams has run so far during his tenure in Brooklyn. The Nets have been running a lot of isolation, a set Williams doesn’t thrive in. In fact, last season, he ranked third-worst in turnover percentage among guards who ran at least 100 isolation plays, according to data from Synergy Sports.
"Everyone is moving almost all the time and they’re moving with a purpose," the scout said.
We've written about how Brook Lopez can be effective in the pick-and-roll, and that the Nets could use more off-ball movement. It is good for Williams to be in a system that he has thrived in once before. Maybe he can find his Utah self in a more Jazz-like scheme.
As for Lopez, the scout tells Mazzeo that he may take on a different role this season, not having the ball for the majority of the shot clock in post up situations.
"He will get them [post ups], but it will be much more late in the shot clock-type scenarios," the scout said. "They’re not just gonna dump it into him and play off of that."
The scout believes that the Nets will have more ball movement this season, still getting the ball to the center, but not as a first option.
"I don’t expect Brook Lopez to be posting up as a primary option very often. Most of the time, when Lionel posted up in the past, he’s done it if they’ve run pick-and-roll with motion, swing the ball and don’t get anything and the shot clock is running down, then they’ll go to a post-up."
The Nets are blessed with a group of floor spacers on the wings, something that Hollins never had in Memphis. Expect him to use them to enhance the offense, telling Mazzeo...
"Memphis was hampered by the fact that they did not have quality wing players offensively, which gave them no floor spacing. But by putting Gasol in the high post, it allowed their wings who couldn’t shoot in the corners to make straight-line basket cuts."
The scout ended by telling Mazzeo that the team will be "interesting to watch," and that "they should be able to do some really cool things."
We await the really cool.