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A great look at L.A.'s pick-and-roll defense

3/13/2011

Meant to post this yesterday, but better late than never.

Sebastian Pruiti, whom you know from the outstanding NBA Playbook but writing here for Basketball Prospectus, has a fantastic breakdown of what the Lakers are doing with Andrew Bynum on the pick and roll and how it's changed L.A.'s defensive look now that Drew is healthier and the team better understands the scheme. I wrote this week about the way in which Bynum has been empowered by the changes, and as Dave McMenamin notes, the high-end results have bolstered his confidence.

Pruiti makes another supposition about why the Lakers changed things up (beyond trying to shore up inconsistencies dogging them earlier in the year):

"To me, this new strategy that the Lakers are implementing and practicing in the final quarter of the NBA season is in preparation for the playoffs, specifically a series with the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs love running the pick-and-roll, and they love getting in the lane or forcing the help defense to commit to Duncan on the roll and then kicking it out for a wide-open corner three. With Bynum showing softly and sitting back in the lane, there is no reason for the help defense to come, essentially taking away the Spurs' corner three-point shot. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can continue to have success playing the pick-and-roll this way, and it will be even more interesting to see if they can use it to slow down the Spurs."