When you think of the Utah Jazz on the offensive end, you think of the pick and roll. However, that isn't the case this season. As a team, the Jazz only run the pick and roll 9.7 percent of time, opting to run five different play types more frequently. (According to Synergy, they are spot-ups, transition sets, cuts, post-ups, and off-ball screens.) This means that Paul Millsap, the Jazz power forward who would normally be setting ball screens for his point guard, now gets the basketball in a number of different ways (Millsap individually only sets ball screens 9.1 percent of the time). When watching Millsap on the offensive end, you see that the Jazz like to get Millsap the basketball using different sets that take advantage of his diversified game.
The Utah Jazz run a great set for their shooters involving a staggered pindown screen. The result is almost always an open look because it's hard to stay attached with a shooter as he comes off of two screens. Because Millsap is so versatile and can knock down a 17-20 footer, the Jazz are willing to run this pindown set for him from time to time:
The play starts with two Jazz players at the high post and two on the wing. Usually, Millsap would be one of those high post players, but when they are running the staggered screen for him, Millsap starts on the wing.
After the pass gets made to the elbow on Millsap's side, the wing on the opposite side comes down to the block. As that happens, the man on the elbow who doesn't get the basketball curls and trails the wing player.
This is happening because the Jazz are in position to set a staggered pindown screen for Millsap. Millsap comes off of these screens and pops out on the wing.
The pass gets made to Millsap and he is able to catch, turn and shoot before his defender can get to him. Here is the play in real time:
The fact that the staggered pindown screens get set for Paul Millsap seems to catch everyone on the defense off guard, and I think that is part of the reason why the play works.
The other reason why this set works is because Millsap's defender probably isn't used to chasing players through pindown screens. Here, Kevin Love is late closing out and is forced to sell out. This allows Millsap to blow right by him for the dunk.
Now that we have seen the staggered set the Jazz like to run, we can look at a counter play that they can run for Millsap to get him opportunities to post up on the block:
This time, instead of coming off of the staggered screen, Millsap is involved in setting the staggered screen as the man in the front. The play looks like it is developing with C.J. Miles coming off of this staggered pindown.
However, at the last second instead of coming off of the screens, C.J. Miles turns into the player setting the screen. Millsap comes off of the screen and posts on the block, getting deep position.
Millsap makes the catch deep in the post and he is able to use that position to make a nice move and get the basket. Here is the play in real time:
You can see that the defense sees the staggered screen developing and they start to get in position to defend it, allowing Miles to get a strong screen set on Millsap's man.
Post Off of Pindown
Again, we are going to look at a pindown screen and it's effect on the Jazz offense. To get the ball to Millsap in the post, the Jazz like to run one of their shooters off of a pindown set by him, and as the pass is made to the wing, Millsap is able to get deep position. If the shot isn't there, it is an easy dump down to Millsap in the post:
On this play, as the ball is being brought up by the point guard, Millsap gets position in around the post area. The reason why is because Millsap is setting a pindown screen, this time for Raja Bell.
Bell comes off of the screen, makes the catch, and gets in triple threat position. The defense needs to worry about Bell catching and shooting, and he closes out hard on him. This creates a nice passing lane for Bell to get the basketball through.
Bell makes the pass and Millsap is able to make the catch and then make a move in the post that gets him a basket. Here is the play in real time:
Notice how Bell's defender can't really sink off of him and clog the passing lane because he is trying to close out on him after coming off of the pindown screen. Bell isn't the best shooter, but the defender seeing that there is a pindown screen set for him must think that the shot is an option and that is one of the reasons for a hard close-out.
Here is another look at the set. Instead of having the shooter come off of the pindown from across the court, the Jazz like to have their wing player V-cut off of Millsap, meaning that they walk their man down and then cut back out to the wing. Again, this type of cut forces the defense to close out hard, creating a nice passing lane to get the basketball through.
When you look at Paul Millsap, you see a player who can do a number of different things on the basketball court. The Jazz are able to harness that and use it to their advantage by running a number of different sets for him. How many times do you see a power forward get the ball in the post and then the next possession they are running a staggered screen for him? This is incredibly hard for the defense to prepare against, and it is part of the reason why it is so successful.