Spain Pick & Roll is one of the most interesting patterns in the NBA today, for several reasons. Already because it is very common and that we have therefore already talked about it a lot, the Rockets of Mike D’Antoni having used it a lot, as well as the Mavericks in order to make the best use of Luka Doncic’s vision of the game .
But also because he is extremely tricky against “classic” defenses, as Trae Young and the Hawks showed again in Game 1 against the Knicks in these playoffs, making the difference three times in a row thanks to the good ones. readings of the leader on this “Spain Pick & Roll” in the “money time”.
A path difficult to determine
It is also very interesting from a historical point of view because where does it come from? As its name suggests, the NBA universe discovered (or rediscovered) it during the clashes between Team USA and Spain, at the Olympic Games. Pau Gasol and his troops used it a lot to disrupt the American defense and as the world of basketball is constantly copying itself, the idea was quickly integrated into NBA playbooks from 2012.
Even if it is always extremely complicated to identify the “inventor” of a system, Andrea Trinchieri assures us that it is the mythical Zeljko Obradovic who introduced it in Europe in 2009. We can however already find traces of it in Treviso (the former club of Zeljko Obradovic, which he left in 1999) in 2002. Is it a residue of his playing systems, or the idea was already floating around in the European basketball world, without being systematized for all that? ? Impossible to say, but what is certain is that no matter the path, she has become very common in the NBA.
It has become so much so that from 2017, the tusks have found new rotations in order to avoid traps. As a reminder, a “Spain Pick & Roll” is a classic pick-and-roll to which we add a screen in the back of the interior involved defensively. For “traditional” defenses, that can cause big problems because, as the Knicks show, it offers a lot of possibilities for mistakes to be exploited.
To avoid this, the Warriors and other outfits began to “switch” differently, with the defender in charge of the player placed to lay the screen behind their back having to recognize the system to switch on the ball carrier immediately. A strategy that bypasses this implementation, and has often proved effective.
A game diagram that illustrates the chess games that are played in the NBA
But tactical combat is still very much alive in the NBA, and in the face of backlash from the defenses, the attacks have found new ways to create lags. As the Suns illustrated last night.
Because Phoenix seems to set up a classic “Spain Pick & Roll”, which Dennis Schröder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope immediately recognize. The rear therefore leaves Devin Booker to block Chris Paul, while his friend recovers his player. Except that all this setting up is a trap, Deandre Ayton going for his part to place a screen on LeBron James to allow the return of Mikal Bridges in the axis of the basket!
The “King” is totally surprised and it offers a completely open shoot to the Phoenix winger. There are also several interesting elements to note in this diagram. The most important, however, is that Devin Booker must remain low enough, at the level of the free throws, to make believe on his screen. If he climbs too high, Dennis Schröder could in this case be in a position to disrupt the pass line between Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges.
But seeing this pattern, we can also think back to the road traveled by this “Spain Pick & Roll”, popularized in Europe by Zeljko Obradovic in Europe at the end of the 2000s, recovered by Spain from Sergio Scariolo at the Olympics, copied by NBA technicians following the clashes of the “Roja” with Team USA, opposed by defensive specialists of the Warriors and other clubs, and now counter-countered. While waiting for the counter-against-against …