In Monday’s Utah Jazz media day, perhaps the most interesting story told involved Trey Burke’s summer pilgrammage to Spokane, Washington (he was accompanied by Alec Burks) where he personally trained with John Stockton. In the past Stockton had worked with Deron Williams (prior to DWill’s breakout 2006-07 sophomore season) and there’s no doubt the amount of knowledge and experience he can impart to a 20-year old rookie like Burke is invaluable.
One of the items Burke mentioned, was how to react when teams go “under” on the pick&roll. Burke stated that prior to working with Stockton, he was perhaps more prone to take a quick perimeter jumper but Stock taught him to be more patient and utilize the “re-screen.” This is another element of the pick&roll that Stockton&Malone worked to perfection and something you see players like Tony Parker of the Spurs still doing with great effectiveness now.
The real benefit you get from immediately re-screening is you essentially invert the pick&roll (sort of like flipping the direction of a run in football if you see the defense overloading to one side).
For example on side screen-roll instead of screening middle and rolling baseline, you’re screening baseline and rolling middle (or often popping as the weakside defense has more time to collapse and cut off the lane). Not only can you gain depth on the secondary screen, you often catch the defending big in “no man’s land” as he’s sagging off the screener to allow his guard to go under. If it’s side screen-roll, and the guard gets caught high, the screener’s man becomes the focal point and we all know 3/4’s of NBA bigs don’t defend screen-roll well.
Additionally, if the defender goes under the first time, he’ll often go under again so the pull-up jumper will still be there if the big doesn’t step up – but you force the defense to work harder, increase the percentage of getting your team a layup, and still receive an equal or better look at the basket.
This also takes patience and understanding on the screener’s part – to instantaneously recognize what the PG is doing, break off the initial roll and remain stationary long enough to set a legal “re-screen” – but also to know whether to pop or roll the second time around while providing the passer with the window to make that “pocket pass” which Burke mentions.
Here’s a frame-by-frame example of a classic Stockton&Malone side screen-roll where they’re patient and “re-screen” to get a better shot.
1.) Standard side screen-roll.
2.) Here the defensive strategy is to play it soft and go “under” on Stockton. Stock’s man will meet him on the other side of the pick to cut-off the driving lane while the screener’s man will loosely defend the Malone which negates any immediate roll-action. Defensively, this gives Stock an off-the-dribble three but also prevents any uncomfortable scenario where Stock is penetrating or the bigman is required to move his feet or go out on the perimeter to defend a point guard.
3. Instead Stock opts to “re-screen.” The result is his man gets caught top-side as Malone screens baseline and this puts the onus back on the bigman. If he stays at home on Malone, he gives Stock an open lane for a layup. If he comes out to defend Stock 15-20 feet from the basket he risks Malone rolling to the rim for a dunk. Ultimately he comes out but too slow – and Stock hits a pullup 15-footer in his face. So Stock was patient, passed on an initial three, went for the re-screen which put all pressure back on the bigman to defend – and got a rhythm jumper from 15-feet.
As you can see here, running the pick&roll to perfection is something John Stockton did it night-in and night-out for 19 seasons. Nobody is expecting Trey Burke to be another John Stockton – but he can take some of the things Stockton did and incorporate them into his own game to help become the best Trey Burke he can be.
Despite the questions lingering after summer league, I believe a first-rate version of Trey Burke is something that will make Jazz fans smile a lot over the next several years. Another thing that should also is the fact that John Stockton is still assisting.