Alec Burks turned in a terrific all-around game – recording 9 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals – in a 97-93 Utah victory in Minnesota.
Throughout the game Burks displayed an ability to make plays in the open-court but more impressively – made multiple plays in the halfcourt setting in which he displayed the ability to beautifully execute some of Utah’s traditional sets. Here, Earl Watson brings the ball up to get Utah into their standard UCLA set (0:46-mark):
#1. The first read is also to see if Watson springs free off the Kanter screen. If he doesn’t – a plethora of options open. Often times Utah will hit the bigman at the high post and then get into their flex/back-screen action on the weakside.
#2. In this set however – the Jazz transition from a UCLA shuffle-cut to a side pick&roll,
#3. Burks and Kanter execute the pick&roll to perfection. (Sidenote: Steisma sagging down to help on the shuffle-cut negates his ability to body up on the screener and show out hard in the ensuing pick&roll. In the NBA – great offensive teams (like the Spurs or 90’s Jazz) don’t simply run screen-roll – they run sets that put their pick&roll players in optimal positions to succeed).
If you’re playing the Jazz – historically you know you’re going to see the UCLA shuffle cut multiple times throughout the game. With that predictability comes the ability to run variations that will catch the defense off-guard (1:12-mark).
#1. In the 4th-qtr, Burks brings the ball up as Utah again appears to go into their UCLA set, which Luke Ridnour (highlighted in red) anticipates.
#2. Instead of the shuffle cut, Burks flares out wide and executes a give-and-go dribble hand-off with Watson on the wing – leaving Ridnour in the middle of the court still in position to fight over the Kanter screen.
#3. J.J. Barea (a point guard not used to defending the screener) doesn’t show off on Burks. That leaves 290-pound center Nikola Pekovic to try to cut off a hard-charging Burks from getting to the basket. Pek makes a good effort but can’t beat Burks to the spot and the resulting contact goes in Burks favor as he also uses his strength and body control to convert the floater.
It’s fun seeing young players like Alec Burks succeed in their (far too) limited opportunities. It’s even more fun to seeing them succeed utilizing elements of Jazzbasketball rather than simply their considerable athletic talents.