We’ve already done a bunch of writing about both the pick-and-roll and the pick-and-pop in the early days of HoopChalk. The first words I ever wrote on the site stressed the importance of the actual pick in these actions:
Screening the ball-handler’s defender creates separation between the ball and the man, and thus puts pressure on the screener’s man to choose between a switch – which could leave a big man vulnerable to being taken off the dribble or result in the player he’s responsible for being open on the dive to the hoop – and sticking close to his own man, which could result in the guard speeding around the screen and heading straight for the basket or pulling up for an open jumper.
However, when the defense has predetermined that they will each switch the screen or trap the ball-handler as soon as he comes around it, the screener has a counter-measure to get open quickly before either defender involved can recover to contest a shot: slipping the screen.
Jason Terry and the slip-and-pop
When you think of pick-and-rolls, you normally don’t think of a guard being the one setting the screen, but over the last couple seasons, the Dallas Mavericks did it with Jason Terry. Their unorthodox 4-2 pick-and-roll with Dirk Nowitzki as the ball-handler and Terry as the screener wasn’t used exceptionally often, but it was used to great success.
Terry would bring the ball up the court and enter it to Nowitzki in the high post, where he shot between 46 and 53 percent last season. He’d then run his man straight at Dirk, acting as though he’d be setting a screen and kicking off that unorthodox 4-2 pick-and-roll action. Often, Terry’s man would stay with Dirk, not wanting to concede a wide open mid-range jumpshot. This would allow Terry a bit of a head start, and when he slipped the screen, there was just enough space on the wing or near the top of the key for him to get an open jumper himself.
Now in Boston, there will still be plenty of opportunity for Terry to be used this way. Though Kevin Garnett is not as ideal a partner as Dirk Nowitzki because he isn’t as good handling the ball or shooting the 3, Paul Pierce provides an intriguing partner, as does Rajon Rondo. The Celtics have had some success running 1-3 side pick-and-rolls with Pierce setting screens for Rondo and popping up to the top of the key, and Terry can be used in a similar fashion. There’s also opportunity for Pierce to be the ball-handler in these actions, which not only adds a fun little wrinkle to the offense, but also takes some of the ball-handling strain off Rajon Rondo, who has basically been responsible for the entirety of the ball-handling responsibility for the Celtics over the last two seasons.
Tyson Chandler and the slip-and-dive
While Terry often slipped his picks to the perimeter, Tyson Chandler operated at the opposite end of the spectrum. Chandler may not have much of an outside shot, but he may just be the league’s best finisher around the basket. There’s a reason he had the third best true shooting percentage of all time last season: he rarely ever misses near the rim.
Chandler is a fantastic screen-setter, and defenses know it. Sometimes, they’d overcompensate (or in the Heat’s case, aggressively trap the ball-handler), and that’s when he’d read the situation, slip the screen and head straight to the rim, where he would finish with ease or draw fouls.
In this play, we see another added benefit of Chandler’s ability to slip the screen and quickly get to the rim. When he slips rather than holding the screen, the help defenders have to crash down on his dive to the rim even quicker than normal (again, especially with the Heat because they are so aggressive in trapping the ball-handler), and that pulls them away from shooters like Steve Novak.
You do not want to be leaving Steve Novak that wide open.
Chris Bosh and the best of both worlds
The Thunder don’t switch this screen, and they don’t exactly trap it, but Chris Bosh sees Serge Ibaka cheating over toward LeBron’s driving lane for an extra beat longer than necessary, slips his screen and pops out into the corner. Because of Bosh’s prowess as a mid-range jump shooter, Ibaka has to close out hard when Bosh throws a pump-fake at him (which Serge bites on, to the surprise of no one), and he gets directly to the rim.
Unlike Terry and Chandler, however, Bosh has both the pop and the dive in his arsenal when slipping screens. Here, he sets a screen for Dwyane Wade in delayed transition. He sees that Russell Westbrook will try to go over the top of the screen, and that Nick Collison is hedging hard to cut off the driving lane at the same time. So what does he do? Slips his roll right to the basket.
Again, look at the amount of space created for his teammates when he does this. LeBron is wide open in the left corner. Mike Miller has an open look at a 3 on the right wing. Mario Chalmers is open on the left wing for a possible kickout and either a 3-pointer of his own or a swing pass. Options. They’re all over the place. And because Bosh is such a nifty passer out of the pick-and-roll, he can find any of these guys off the catch.
@jadubin5 Chris is still doing it often enough, but those are creating corner threes by drawing a baseline guy. Doesn’t get logged as PnR.
— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) November 6, 2012
So far this season, Bosh has continued slipping picks with great success, generating four baskets off slipped screens in the third quarter of Miami’s win over Denver alone. Additionally, as observed by HEAT.com‘s Couper Moorhead (who provides some of the best Heat coverage on the Internet, by the way), his slips are creating open looks even when he doesn’t get the ball, because the defense is quickly crashing down. With the sheer volume of shooters the Heat have on their roster this season, that’s an ever more dangerous proposition.