The Golden State Warriors were able to nab free agent Carl Landry this summer with an extremely modest two-year, eight million dollar contract offer. Once considered an incredibly valuable commodity, interest in Landry and his price tag have both been depressed by his declining rebound rates and love affair with the mid-range jumpshot. This season he has recommitted himself to the post. According to mySynergySports, 30.2% of his offensive possessions have come on post-ups and he’s averaging 0.94 points per possessions, the 15th highest mark in the league.
Landry has almost none of the tools or advantages of traditionally dominant post scorers. He doesn’t have the length of a Roy Hibbert, or the strength of Dwight Howard. He doesn’t have the athleticism of Blake Griffin or the savvy assortment of moves and counter-moves of the Gasols. He works almost exclusively on the left block and almost always finishes with his right hand. But what has made Landry such an effective post scorer this season is a focus on simple advantages:
Making Himself Available
Landry has done a terrific job this season of using positioning to make himself a clear target, creating passing angles for his teammates to enter the ball to him and giving himself an advantage against defenders. Landry is not powerful enough to simply back down a defender, so the Warriors don’t have the luxury of allowing him to just sprint to the block and wait for an entry pass. They often use Landry as a screener in some sort of action to get the defense moving. From this action Landry is able to pin his defender away from the ball and/or the basket, creating an easy scoring opportunity. Here’s one example:
This play begins with the ball being handled at the top of the key. Klay Thompson is heading right to left along the baseline, appearing to set up a clear out post-up opportunity for Landry.
As Thompson gets under the basket he quickly reverses direction, coming back out the way he came. As he makes this move Landry steps out to set a screen on Thompson’s man, Deron Williams.
Thompson continues to curl around forcing Landry’s man, Reggie Evans, to step way out trying to make the pass more difficult and force Thompson’s curl away from the elbow. As Evans comes out, a huge amount of space opens under the basket for Landry to step into.
Landry drops right into the empty space on the block. Williams has recovered on Thompson, but Evans is still caught in between the two Warriors. A third Nets’ defender has now had to drop down into the lane, giving attention to Landry.
As Evans recovers, Landry does a terrific job of keeping him on the side of his body, sealing him offf and not letting him get between himself and the basket. This leaves a clear passing angle for Thompson, and allows Landry to catch, turn and make the layup. Video below shows this play in realtime and a few other examples of Landry using his body to create passing angles and seal off his defender.
Taking Advantage of Mismatches
While Landry can’t consistently rely on his length or strength to create interior scoring, he does occasionally find himself matched up against players who he can exploit in those areas. When he recognizes a smaller defender is on him, he utilizes those tools that he can’t deploy against bigger players. Some less effective post players will “mix things up” by trying to face-up against a smaller player. Landry keeps it simple and when he has an advantage in size or strength, he uses it. The video below shows him aggressively and physically taking the ball into the paint against smaller defenders like Andre Iguodala and Dante Cunningham.
Landry also does a good job of exploiting mismatches in the opposite direction. When he is covered by a bigger, slower defender he will face-up and take advantage of his footwork and quickness. There’s nothing cute about his post game this year, he’s just applying the action most likely to succeed in each scenario.
Taking Good Shots
The other thing Landry has done really well this season is be purposeful about his post play. While reacting to the defense is a component of what he does, he is also dictating the action by getting himself to the spot he chooses and taking the shots he wants. Whether it’s by backing down and spinning off the defender, or driving and then spinning off the baseline, he’s been able to get himself to the front of the rim nearly at will.
When all else fails Landry still has that trusty mid-range jumpshot. He has been a less efficient mid-range shooter the past few seasons, mostly because he was doing it far too often. This season he has done a better job of picking his spots, and calmly knocking down the twelve footers when that’s all the defense gives him.
For the past few seasons it seemed like Carl Landry was caught in the trap of trying to prove how versatile and expansive his offensive game was. That internal struggle seems to have been resolved and he appears much more comfortable with the limits of his effectiveness. This season Landry is letting his success be defined by the quality of his contributions instead of the diverse quantity.