How The Kings Hurt Cleveland With DeMarcus Cousins In The High Post

In a high scoring game on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings beat the Cavs 124-118.  Nine of those points came directly as a result of giving DeMarcus Cousins the ball in the high post.  He has become a more and more dangerous player from this area.  He can shoot over his defender, drive to the rim, or – most dangerous of the three options – pass to an open shooter or cutter.  While he only scored from the high post once, he had three assists.  Let’s take a look at the two plays Sacramento used to spring shooters and take advantage of the attention Cousins drew.

Weakside Pindown

The Kings used this play twice and Cleveland couldn’t stop it either time.

Things start out with Jimmer Fredette entering the ball to Cousins at the elbow.  In the weak side short corner, Jason Thompson starts to set a screen for Francisco Garcia.  Notice how the defenders of both these players are watching Cousins intently; if Cousins drives it will be one of their assignments to help.

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 9.16.02 PM

Garcia comes off the pindown screen wide open for a jumper.  If Thompson’s man were to help as to not allow the catch and shoot, Garcia would be able to hit him on the roll.  It’s a very simple, but effective play when executed correctly.  It forces the defense to pick their poison between a wide open Garcia jumper and a Jason Thompson dunk.  The shooter can also continue on the curl into the lane instead of just taking the jumper from the elbow area, as we see on the second play out of this set.  In the unlikely instance the defense wraps up both these options, you still have Cousins ready to go to work in the high post.  Here are the two times the Kings ran this set:

Misdirection Backscreen

This play is a little more fun and involves the Kings using John Salmons as a decoy.

This set begins with Thomas Robinson and Tyreke Evans setting a double screen for John Salmons, who is curling towards the middle.  Salmons’ man is stuck behind the Robinson screen and calls for a switch as Salmons curls into the lane unimpeded.

Alonzo Gee (Evans’ original defender) switches onto Salmons and blankets him (Salmons is presumably the first look in this Kings set).  It isn’t over yet, however.  Robinson slightly adjusts the angle of his screen and Evans flares out to the corner.  His new man is stuck behind the Robinson backscreen and he nails the open three.  Here’s the play in real time:

Neither of these sets are incredibly difficult, but it’s nice to see them used in the Kings’ offense. Taking advantage of Cousins’ varied skill set can only help the team in the long run.   The Sacramento offense is trending up lately and with more of this it can improve further.

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