How Al Jefferson fits with the Bobcats offense, Part 2
In Part 1, it was shown how Al Jefferson will immediately improve the Bobcats offense through his post skills, both his scoring ability as well as his passing prowess, which will open up opportunities for players such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ben Gordon.
Jefferson will also impact the way that the Bobcats run and utilize the pick and roll with Kemba Walker. Walker was the key to the Bobcats being ranked 3rd in the league in plays categorized as pick and roll ball handler, as the Bobcats scored 0.84 points per possession (PPP), while using this type of play 15.2% of the time. Their roll man stats weren’t as good, as they ranked 28th on only 0.84 PPP.
While Walker played a main role in the Bobcats being so good in pick and roll situations, Bismack Biyombo played just as integral a part in these plays. While it is no shock that Biyombo offers little on the offensive end, which was illustrated through his post game in the previous post, he offers some other aspects to the team. He is a great screener and it shows in the pick and roll game.
The following clips show how Walker was able to use these screens by Biyombo to get to the rim easily or take advantage of a matchup against a bigger, slower player. Biyombo takes pride in his screens and is less interested in rolling to the rim than he is in freeing Walker. By getting a piece of Walker’s man, Biyombo gives Walker the space needed to get to the rim.
While the last post showed how Jefferson will fit in with the team by helping the team in the post, one of his biggest struggles will affect one of the Bobcats’ best offensive aspects. Jefferson is a poor screener and rarely frees his teammate out of these plays. The Jazz ranked 29th in plays categorized as pick and roll ball handler plays (0.69 PPP) and while part of this can be the fault of the guard, Jefferson’s screens did not help. He rarely gets set on his screen nor does he slow the defender at all. This makes it difficult for the guard to penetrate or find any space, leading to a tough shot.
It is likely that Jefferson will be one of the main pick and roll screeners for the Bobcats, which will make this strength of Walker more difficult. While Walker can overcome poor screens to get baskets, it often is the result of a tough jump shot or a contested drive that zaps Walker’s energy. A great screen gives Walker the easy lane, instead of Walker taking a contested jumper or forcing the drive.
In addition to having to work hard for his made baskets, poor screens force Walker to take three point shots which are not one of his strengths. He shot only 32% on three pointers last season, so teams will be comfortable letting him take these shots. Instead of being able to probe through the defense and get to the rim, the defenders are able to stay in front of him and force him into three point attempts.
One of the reasons Jefferson is such a poor screener is because he is already rolling to the open space to get his shot instead of focusing on freeing the ball handler. However, Jefferson is proficient on rolling out of the pick and roll, scoring 1.01 PPP, ranked 59th in the league. Jefferson is comfortable finding the open area for a mid range jump shot or can roll to the rim for a close range shot, depending on how the defense is aligned.
While it was easy to see how Jefferson will positively affect the Bobcats with his post play, how he will fit into the pick and roll offense remains to be seen. The Bobcats were great when Walker was able to use a solid screen from Biyombo and cut through the defense to get to the rim but they struggled when other players set worse screens. The Bobcats got next to nothing out of their roll man, where Jefferson is a great offensive player. However, this will negate some of Walker’s effectiveness by taking away his pick and roll opportunities. It will be interesting to see how the Bobcats set up their pick and roll and how the defense plays it so that both Walker and Jefferson can stay involved in the offense.