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Atlanta Hawks offensive playbook: ‘Pick and Roll’ action part two

Let’s get a bit deeper into the pick and roll action.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This is the fourth edition in our Atlanta Hawks offensive playbook series. This will be part two of our look at pick and roll sets. If you missed part one, consider going back and taking a look here.

In this edition, we will look at pick and roll sets that outline the way the Hawks sometimes handle defensive switches. We will also look at plays that involve more than two players in the primary or secondary action.

This video is picked up after Malcolm Delaney and Paul Millsap use the pick and roll to get the switch from the 76ers defense. Millsap sets up and receives the ball at the free throw line ready to attack against the wing defender, Gerald Henderson. He comfortably uses a step back technique to get separation and drill the 15-foot jumper.

On this play, the Cavaliers defense is not intentionally playing this as a switch. In this game they had been consistently using the “ice” technique as to try to defend the Hawks pick and roll action. In the “ice” technique the big is expected to jump into the would-be path of the ball handler but should work with his teammate to eventually exchange responsibilities back to the respective original match-ups.

However, on this play, Dennis Schroder identifies an opportunity to drive quickly at Kevin Love and forces the Cavaliers to react and try to defend this as they would with a switch. He gets little resistance and navigates straight to the front of the rim for the easy score.

On this play, Schroder and Mike Muscala are able to draw the switch with the screen action. Here Schroder backs the ball out as to set up a distance at which Ersan Ilyasova should have little chance of staying with him.

T.J. McConnell makes a smart adjustment on the weak side to get matched up with Tim Hardaway Jr. and hands Muscala off to Robert Covington. This would have been useful if the 76ers defense could have found a way to force the Hawks to move the ball to the weak side. But Schroder gets to rim for the easy score and the foul for a three point opportunity.

Dwight Howard sets the screen here and helps get the switch from the Bulls defense. Schroder dribble left to right to square himself up in front of Taj Gibson and to allow Howard to stay in between him and Isaiah Cannon. He gets to the rim and converts the score that basically secures the win for the Hawks in this game.

This is a double-high pick and roll that looks quite a bit like the “horns action” we looked at recently. Some of the concepts and objectives are the same but you can see Coach Mike Budenholzer calling for the high screen action from the sideline.

The primary target here is to force Channing Frye into defending the ball handler. After the screen Muscala dives toward the rim and Millsap slides to the wing to force J.R. Smith to account for him.

Kent Bazemore threatens Frye with dribble penetration, creates space with the step back and hits the mid-range jumper in rhythm.

This is another example of play design that leverages the involvement of a third player in the action to create a valuable shot. Schroder and Howard operate in the initial screen action and then the ball is reversed to the other side to Bazemore. He and Howard operate in a second pick and roll.

Notice how this action clears the entire right half of the offensive floor for Bazemore and Howard. Bazemore hits the rhythm jumper from the elbow for the score.

This is another play design that involves a third player. Here Taurean Prince gets an off ball screen from Howard and receives the ball as Schroder reverses the ball similarly to how he did on the previous play we saw involving Bazemore. Prince receives the ball and immediately initiates pick and roll action with Howard. He gets to the rim and scores with a strong finish at the rim.

On this play Delaney and Millsap create stress on the defense with the high screen action. Kevin Love slides into the would-be path for Delaney to attack with dribble penetration. Notice that Millsap precisely maintains equal depth with Delaney as to create a passing lane that could allow him to catch and attack in the paint.

As such, Iman Shumpert has to shade a little help towards Millsap. Hardaway cuts back door and receives a perfect pass from Delaney for the uncontested score at the rim.

Coming out of a timeout, the Hawks throw a lot of action at the Heat defense on this possession. Howard delivers the ball to Thabo Sefolosha on the wing then spins back to set an off-ball screen for Hardaway.

Thabo hands the ball off to Delaney and cuts toward and past a Muscala back screen and heads to the weak side corner. Delaney and Muscala quickly execute a side pick and roll that results in a perfect pocket pass and an uncontested dunk for the score.

This is another beautiful play design that involves a third player in the pick and roll set. Notice that on this play Sefolosha starts in the middle of the action and fakes a back screen on Channing Frye who is matched up with Millsap.

As Kent Bazemore and Millsap initiate the high screen action, Thabo floats out to the strong side corner. Bazemore’s dribble penetration occupies Richard Jefferson which creates the kick out pass and the open corner 3-point attempt.

Schroder and Howard operate in the high screen action on this play. Sergio Rodriguez follows Schroder over the screen. Schroder uses a stop and start technique to keep his defender on his back as Howard rolls toward the rim.

The result is that Nik Stauskas has to shade some defensive help toward Howard. Schroder manages perfect depth to create the passing lane for the kick out to Hardaway who hits the open 3-point attempt.

That covers most of how the Hawks leverage pick and roll action in the half-court offense. As we head toward the 2017-18 season, it will be interesting to see who gets the opportunities to operate in these actions given the volume of roster turnover.

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