1. “Peel Sting” is one of Denver’s go-to isolation plays for their power forwards and one of the most common set plays in Michael Malone’s playbook. The play starts with a 1-4 ball screen that usually forces a switch before leading to a mid or low post touch for the “4” to attack a mismatch.
Here are several examples from last season.
This play is most commonly called for Aaron Gordon with the starting unit or Jeff Green with the bench unit. Both players are much stronger than most guards. So when the Nuggets see that a team is switching, they will run this action and let their oversized forwards play bully ball against the smaller guards.
In Wednesday’s blowout win over the Houston Rockets, Gordon had two interesting examples. In the first, he successfully draws a foul but does so by barreling into a tight space. In the second one, Gordon wisely drags the defender further to the baseline to open up more room to get back to the center of the floor and over his left shoulder. Both examples worked, but the second one created maximum spacing for him to utilize his combination of size and speed.
2. Jokic is always doing this running jump pass to the post when Gordon rim runs and seals his man in the paint.
3. Gordon is shooting 60.4% from the field this season, by far the best mark of his career. A closer look reveals that 50% of his field goal attempts occur within 3 feet of the basket, up 12% from last season and 15% from his career average. He’s also shooting a career-best 80% on such attempts, thanks in large part to the fact that he is trying to dunk everything.
And not just trying, but also succeeding. He has 44 dunks in 18 games so far this season. That puts him on pace for 171 dunks, a number that would far exceed the personal record he set last season of 130 dunks.
4. Vlatko Cancar does a lot of positive things on the court and very few negative ones. They aren’t always plays that stand out on the highlight reel or show up on the box sheet. In the clip below, notice how he recognizes the blown switch by the two guards out on the perimeter and quickly reacts to get a hand in the passing lane of the cutter. He turned a likely dunk into a deflection that saved the possession.
5. Cancar can probably earn rotation minutes by simply making plays like the one above. But if he starts hitting threes off of movement like he does in the example below then he might be something more than that.
Look at how smooth and pure that shot looks. He’s 12 of 27 (44.4%) from deep on the season and 29 of 78 (37.2%) for his career. He needs a much larger sample size before we know what kind of shooter he is but shots off of movement are the most difficult and most valuable type of 3-point shots.
6. I loved this rotation and perfect verticality from Jamal Murray to save what would’ve otherwise been an open dunk. Great timing, awareness, and anticipation.
7. I talk a lot about “slipping” screens. Below, Bruce Brown gives a textbook example of how to slip an offball pindown screen by cutting towards the basket at the exact moment when the defense prepares to switch the pindown. Both defenders get frozen and Brown gets an open tiger dunk.
8. Jokic’s dropoff pass in transition went viral last night but this dime from Ish Smith might’ve been the best assist of the night.
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