The more we see Luke Kornet get minutes, the more impressive he’s becoming, both as a defender (the Korneclipse shot defense) and on offense as a screen and roll man. On Sunday, against the Washington Wizards, we saw Kornet utilize slip screens on more than one occasion to beat the perimeter defense and give him an easy look around the rim.
However, late in the third quarter, Kornet and Malcolm Brogdon flashed a good two-man game, manipulating Washington’s defense to create a solid lob threat that ended in an easy bucket — sorry, Devon Dotson, you got there a tad late and just didn’t have the verticality to impact the dunk.
Turn the sound on for the below video if you want the voice-over explanation.
Allow me to elaborate on this possession. Brogdon is a three-level scoring threat, both off the dribble, and off the catch, so, as he comes over the ‘Varejao’ screen from Kornet, we see Washington look to trap/hard hedge with both Taj Gibson and Jeff Goodwin, with the aim of forcing him to pick up the ball or lose his dribble.
While Gibson and Goodwin are pressuring the rock, Will Barton has rotated over from the weakside corner to tag Kornet’s roll and put a body between him and the basket — pretty standard defensive practice. But, here’s where shooting gravity plays such a big role in how the Celtics are manipulating teams.
With Barton committed to Kornet, Bradley Beal is ‘splitting the difference’ between Jaylen Brown and Sam Hauser, and that’s not a job you want, regardless of who you are. So, as Hauser begins to lift from the corner onto the wing, and Goodwin is recovering from the trap/hedge, Barton scrambles out to Hauser to remove the passing lane.
With just one defender in front of him, Brogdon can now look to beat his man off the dribble and pressure the rim, as he does with his drive, forcing Goodwin to re-engage, thus leaving Kornet open around the cup.
Devon Dotson is rotating to try and pressure the play, but it’s too late.
A play that Washington looked to kill with ball pressure and solid rotations quickly unfolds into an easy stuff at the rim.
I have added the play without the voice-over and annotations if you wanted to watch it unfold in real-time, too. What I like about this set, other than how Boston looked to manipulate the Wizards’ coverage, is that for a team that is earning plaudits over their perimeter offense and ball movement, they’re still capable, and willing, to use their gravity, size, and decision making to create easy buckets around the rim.
Just imagine the damage this type of action is going to cause once Robert Williams is back in the rotation and has caught up to game speed. It’s crazy to say, but things are going to get even better. And that’s exciting.