The Pistons have run a play many times this year where Ben Gordon uses a screen set by Jonas Jerebko. It has often led to a turnover or bad shot. I remember once when Gordon tried to pass to Jerebko expecting him to be diving to the basket, but Jerebko faded to the 3-point line, and the ball sailed out of bounds.
Every time I saw this play I thought, “Man, this play really looks like it should work. Why the heck doesn’t it?”
Last night against the Bobcats, with about 11 minutes left in the third quarter, they ran the same play again – this time with a different result.
Gordon is an above-average screen user. He’s not quite Ray Allen, but he’s not Stephen Jackson, either.
There are a few essentials when using a screen.
You want to swing through with the leg closer to the screener to run by your teammate as closely as possible. That will give you extra space for your release. Notice how well Gordon is doing that.
Also, he takes a long step with his left leg, enabling him to take a quick shot.
Jerebko’s defender, Boris Diaw, is forced to make a decision. Either he leaves Gordon wide open for a jumper or a drive to the basket, or he steps away from Jerebko to bother Gordon. He chooses the latter.
This is the moment Jerebko stayed at the 3-point line the last time, and Gordon quickly passed the ball out of bounds along the baseline. Jerebko was much more aggressive last night, and instead of fading, he dives right to the basket. Byron Mullens (guarding Monroe on the other side) should be in better help position, but at this point, the play is pretty much over.
Gordon’s quick touch pass reaches Jerebko on point, and he dunks easily.
These are the small things that will improve throughout the season. The Pistons haven’t not had a lot of time to internalize certain parts of the playbook, especially plays like this that demand quick decision-making . I don’t want to go overboard just because we beat a bad team, but there’s an upside to the Pistons, who might have a brighter future than many think.