The art of weak-side creation – Pistons seek to charge offense by hiding point of attack

Detroit Bad Boys

When Blake Griffin was shut down by the Detroit Pistons, the offense from the starting lineup took a hit. While Griffin was far from the offensive force he was years ago, he was still very good at orchestrating a big chunk of the team’s strong-side offense. Other starters could play off of this to their strengths. Detroit’s most frequent starting five with Griffin (Blake, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Wayne Ellington and Delon Wright) were a potent offensive force (114.4). And the good flow of that offense allowed players to be successful, and was one of the primary reasons Jerami started so hot and was being mentioned as a potential All-Star.

Without Griffin, Detroit’s offensive flow is sputtering. The most common post-Griffin starting lineup of Saddiq Bey, Jerami, Mason, Wayne and Delon had an offensive rating of 97.9. The situation is a little better since Saben Lee took over for Wright – a 104 offensive rating – but it’s still underwhelming. This disappointing figure shows that Grant isn’t ready to do it all by himself. It also shows that as good as Mason Plumlee is for Motown’s attack with his playmaking skills, he has shortcomings that prevent him from being a full-time offensive anchor. It also shows that rookie Saddiq Bey has a long way to go.

As a result, the Pistons’ offense is significantly weaker on the strong side, and we can observe the team’s scorers like Jerami or Wayne numbers deteriorating: 23.3 PPG on 44 FG% with 38.2 3P% to 21.1 PPG on 40.6 FG% with 31.7 3P% and 11.1 on 46.8 FG% with 44.5 3P% to 9.4 PPG on 42.4 FG% with 40 3P%, respectively. The big hit taken especially by Jerami’s numbers reflects both facets of that problem – the need to burden players who aren’t there yet with the task of being the anchor of the Motor City’s attack, and lack of such an anchor for players who still need someone to play off of it.

But when your strong-side is weakening, you can help yourself by strengthening your weak-side. Often using one of the newest acquisitions, Hamidou Diallo, Dwane Casey is redesigning Pistons offense to regain scoring opportunities on the weak-side. But Hamidou (or others) himself isn’t overburdened with the task of anchoring the strong-side. It’s rather that the team is able to play without rigidly established strong-side, and by constant player and/or ball movement again and again creating weak-side-esque advantages allowing to attack against collapsing defense.

Here are some ‘classical’ examples involving Diallo and Grant.

As you can see, Diallo has already advantage when he receives the ball as the defense tries to adjust to the previous movement and plays. Since he’s a lethal perimeter threat in Detroit (54.5 3P% on 2.2 attempts), he needs to be closed out hard and has his first defender on his heels when he attacks the closeout. As the other opponents try to help, he locates Grant who now has similar or even bigger advantage to either attack or shoot.

The cooperation between those two, even though they are yet to play much together since Hamidou comes off the bench option, is particularly promising. From there, it spreads to other facet of their games. Owing to this, the pair has an offensive rating of 116.4, and when they share the floor, Hami is 13-of-24 from the floor including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Jerami 16-of-27 including 7-of-7 from three. But they can also cooperate with other players.

And you can expect other Pistons players to benefit from those weak-side arrangements. Josh Jackson looks like another player for whom it’d make much easier.

However, his below average 3-ball (28.9) puts a cap on it. In Josh’s case, the advantage of the hard closeout isn’t always there. Therefore, Josh frequently still is entangled in too difficult drives where he needs to take tough shots or loses the ball and, although he shows good signs as facilitator, his impact is still not what it could be.

Those arrangements are also of great help for Detroit’s younger youngsters. Look how smoothly Sekou Doumbouya – a player who still often looks lost in his second year – presents himself in those situations.

And here’s Killian Hayes, another youngster looking to find his way in the best League in the world.

Again, you can see how the weak-side arrangements make it easier for him.

And lastly, we have Deividas Sirvydis. His first steps in the NBA look now so convincing due those arrangements.

The Detroit Pistons may struggle with their first offensive option(s) at the moment. But thanks to the creativity and flexibility of their coaching staff, they growing a group of young players that will be able to kill it as secondary options when one of them – or one of the ones they’ll add this summer – will finally be ready to take over as the main cog of their offense.

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