The Lakers want to keep this man from wreaking havoc.
With the Milwaukee Bucks and Brandon Jennings in town for a Sunday match against the Lakers, fans and media will no doubt dwell on what's considered the Lakers' biggest weakness: stopping quick point guards. Whenever the likes of Chris Paul, Aaron Brooks or Rajon Rondo are on the bill, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown instantly find themselves under the microscope. That Jennings was pretty quiet during December's 107-106 OT win in Milwaukee (4-11 shooting for eleven points, a solid but reasonable seven assists) changes nothing. The Laker "ones" will undoubtedly be scrutinized heading into this contest.
Brian and I have often labeled this issue somewhat overstated, in that EVERY team struggles to check speed freaks. It's not like Monta Ellis gets shut down by 28 other squads, then bumps his stats purely through four meetings with the Lakers. Containing fast guards is a struggle across the league. By extension, shutting these guys down to the degree possible also feels like a team issue, as opposed to one man's responsibility. But perhaps we're being too easy on the purple and gold lead guards. And even if we're not, there's still the matter of an ideal strategy to counter greased lightning.
For more insight, the Kamenetzky Brothers Lakers PodKast enlisted Dave Miller, who's been an assistant coach at the college (West Point, Texas, USC, Arizona State) and NBA levels (two years with Byron Scott and the Hornets). He also has a unique perspective on Jennings, having coached him at the AAU level and worked him out. Lotta X's, O's, and nitty gritty about defensive principles, which should appeal mightily to hoop heads looking to get deep inside the game. Before listening to the entire show, click below for a sampling of what Miller had to say:
On trying to defend Jennings
- The ideal thing to do is, you want to just deny him the ball, (which is) easier said than done. So you got (plan) B. On every make or miss, you want make Brandon Jennings have to go back towards the ball, opposite the direction of their basket... In that backward moment (Jennings) goes to catch, Fish now can get down into what I call that low, wide defensive stance. He's able to engage on the ball. Without doing that, you try to pick up any of those guards at half court, (and) it's impossible to stop them.
On the next step to limiting Jennings
- You want to turn him into a jump shooter. You want to take away all transition baskets... He's been able now to kick it out (now). He's not a prober like Steve Nash, but that's exactly what you have to do. You have to limit his transition baskets and you have to limit the times he gets into the paint because when he gets into the paint, he's gonna pull defenders. And sometimes you say, we'll let Brandon Jennings beat us shooting jump shots or scores in the paint and you stick to your shooters. I wouldn't come off Michael Redd. If I was doing that scouting report, on any kind of help, don't help off Micheal Redd. If we're gonna get beat, it's gonna be with Brandon Jennings shooting. We call guys like that "volume shooters."
The relationship between the big men and guards when preventing screen/roll success
The most important thing and it's one of the most difficult things to do, is you have to have you bigs talk... On any screen, the bigs must talk tot heir guards. If you're sitting courtside or in press row, you should be hearing the bigs yelling, "screen left, Fish! Screen right, Farmar!" The minute Andrew Bynum's man takes a step and looks like he's going to set a screen, that's when Bynum needs to talk. The point guard on an island.
A general guide to defending anybody
- Play defense the way you don't want to be guarded on offense.