The Brooklyn Nets were amongst the better teams in the NBA this past season in pick and roll sets, will that be a continuing trend moving forward?
Last season, the Brooklyn Nets ran an average of 23.7 pick and rolls per contest—good for 5th in the NBA. This was mainly due to playing to D’Angelo Russell‘s strength as the ball handler in these situations, as he himself ran 11.4 pick and rolls sets this past season. However, as we all know, Russell is no longer part of this roster and a new point guard is in town, so with a decrease in volume will they still be as effective in running this look?
Kyrie Irving is a sensational iso scorer and so is fellow teammate, Spencer Dinwiddie. Irving called everyone off and got to work in an isolation setting an average of 3.0 times per game last season, and in those sets, he mustered out 0.98 points per possession. Dinwiddie ran the look 3.7 times, and he actually bettered Irving’s numbers—averaging 1.05 points per possession when isolated.
Caris LeVert also ran 2.8 plays in isolation in 2018/19; and he ranked in the 67th percentile, averaging 0.94 points per possession. So for a team who has three primary ballhandlers that are all adept when given the ball and clearing out (amongst other means of their offense), how will they fare in pick and roll sets?
Well, surprisingly, just as good if not better than they were a season ago. Maybe it’s due to the sample size, but Dinwiddie and Irving both ranked in the 85th percentile last year as the primary ball-handler in pick and roll situations while Russell was in the 67th percentile. Irving was the ball handler in 6.6 pick and roll sets last season, averaging 0.99 points per possession. Dinwiddie scored the same in the 6.2 looks he saw as the ball handler in that set.
Once again, LeVert proved capable in this look as well, scoring in the 76th percentile with the 5.7 possessions he ran per game last season. The overall volume will likely decrease, but their primary ball handlers can run this set with high efficiency.
Likewise, their roll men aren’t too shabby either. DeAndre Jordan made his bread and butter offensively as the roll man to Chris Paul and even Blake Griffin in some instances in the pick and roll as a member of the Clippers. His athleticism and ability to come down with just about anything around the rim have always made him a threat to the opposition, and in pick and roll sets defenses always had to account for him as a roll man.
He may not be in his athletic prime anymore, but he’s still incredibly efficient when rolling off a screen. Last season he averaged a whomping 1.35 points per possession in the 2.4 looks he saw as the roll man—ranking in the 93rd percentile in that regard. Given Dinwiddie and Jordan’s efficiency in this set, they could be incredibly dangerous if they build a rapport for the Nets’ second unit. That is if Allen starts games for the team next season.
Speaking of, Jarrett Allen has proven more than capable of being an above-average roll man when utilized in pick and roll sets. Amongst players that had at least 3.5 possessions as the roller, Allen finished with the highest points per possession (1.17). He’s got great hands and is steadily improving at finishing at the rim.
Kenny Atkinson and the remainder of the coaching staff have a well-balanced roster than can score in a variety of ways; if they want the pick and roll to be a staple in their offense like it was last year—their personnel will suffice.