Last week, we wondered if Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez can start together and form a proficient defensive tandem. This week, we take a look to see if the two can be efficient enough on the offensive end to keep the Nets competitive.
I found some very interesting plays from last season that leads me to believe that the two big men can play together and help the Nets succeed. Brooklyn did score fewer points per 100 possessions, 102.6 to 104.4, with KG and Lopez on the floor than without them last season, but the Nets did perform better in other facets. The Nets took better care of the ball with two fine passing bigs on the floor, having an assist to turnover ratio of 1.76, better than the team's mark of 1.44 for the whole year. What could be troubling is that the Nets played nearly two fewer possessions per game when the two were on the floor than when they were off. Lionel Hollins has stressed that he wants to play faster in 2014, and the two slower men must adapt.
A Lopez-Garnett lineup was mixed on the glass.. Lineups with the two in the lineup grabbed nearly half the defensive rebounds available, a very nice mark, but on the offensive end, they were very weak. The two grabbed 16% of the offensive rebounds available, which is 5 percentage points lower than the team's number for the whole year. I do think that two can play better on the glass this season, with Garnett reportedly in better shape and Lopez slimming back down and wanting to be quicker.
All that said, the biggest key to these two making it work on the floor together is through spacing. After looking at film, I've come to the conclusion that the two can definitely space the floor, and KG will by no means get in Lopez's way. Nor the other way around.
Garnett does a great job in the above clip of staying outside of the paint and giving Lopez room to work inside. KG's basketball IQ is seen here when he continues to stay at the elbow and extends, forcing Kenneth Faried away from the Lopez, who's posting up. Had Garnett cut down, Faried would have been able to double-team the big man on the block.
Garnett does a fantastic job of keeping the floor spaced for his teammate -- and trying to keep the floor balanced as well. Watch here how Garnett recognizes that Lopez needs the entire paint on the play and it leads to a Lopez layup.
Garnett's ability to read the floor is going to be key when he and Lopez share the floor. If Garnett can help Lopez stay in the paint and work the entire area, there'ss no reason why the All Star center can't average more than 22 points per game ... as long as he gets the minutes.
With that much scoring coming from one player, a lot of attention is going to be angled toward him. Garnett should feast off of those game plans conceived to shut down Lopez. Watch here at how many players go to Lopez off a screen.
Two players slide in from the corner to stop the Stanford Cardinal from getting an easy layup, leaving Joe Johnson and Garnett open from spots where they shoot above efficiency. Garnett shot 40% from the corners last season combined, and has taking a liking to that 15-foot jumper from there.
Brook Lopez should be setting more screens, and with that should come more attention from defenses when he comes down the lane. When that happens, Garnett can just stay out of the paint and wait for Lopez to find him open.
Lopez does finish a tough layup on this particular play, but if he didn't have so much momentum going towards the rim, that was an easy mid-range jumper for either Garnett, or Johnson, to convert.
Now that we've demonstrated just how open Garnett can get from the defense closing in on a rolling Lopez, let's watch a play where Garnett gets a mid-range jumper off a Lopez screen.
It is clear that Garnett has no problem staying out there, and it's clear that Lopez has no problem rolling hard to the rim and garnering two or sometimes three defenders' bodies. It's the perfect recipe for a Garnett bucket.
Beyond how efficient the two can work in a pick-and-roll set --with Lopez as the screener, we can take a look at how Garnett can work as the screener and where Lopez fits in that offense. Garnett used nearly 23% of his plays as a roll man in the PNR, Lopez 14%. We should expect more of the same last season.
Garnett sets a nice screen -- and as he usually does -- rolls out to the top of the key. (With Lopez on the floor, expect Garnett to roll out as opposed to down often). KG is able to take his man off the dribble at times and does so against Derrick Favors. Lopez doesn't sink down like he should, but his presence at the elbow puts Enes Kanter in a tough position: should he slide down and cut off KG, or leave Lopez wide open; he goes with option B, and Garnett scores an easy layup.
Even though Garnett is a shell of his former self athletically, he's still an adept shooter and offensive player. Paired with Lopez, the two can form a very interesting duo that should keep defenses guessing at all times.
Even though it didn't seem likely until Hollins revealed his plans for KG last week, it looks like the Garnett-Lopez duo can be beneficial to the Nets offense.