The Breakdown: 4/5 Pick and Roll

Phillip Barnett —  March 30, 2012

A few days ago, Darius pointed out a trend he’s been noticing where the Lakers run a 4/5 pick and roll between Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. With the help of mySynergySports, I was able to look into it and saw that they’ve successfully ran a variation of the 4/5 P&R about four times in the last few games, and all four times have had some of the same elements, and it’s those elements that we’ll be taking a look at in this edition of The Break Down.

The set is always initiated with a 1/2 pick and roll between either Steve Blake or Ramon Sessions and Kobe with Ron Artest in the corner ball side (Note: every time I saw this set run, the lineup was always point guard, Kobe, Ron, Pau, Bynum. The point guard was the only variation in the lineup when this was run). On the weak side, Pau sits in the pinch post (or free throw line extended) with Bynum on the block. On this play in particular, Pau set a cross screen for Kobe before he went over to set the screen for Blake. In other sets, Kobe has gone to set the screen without a preliminary cross screen from Pau. Regardless, the set always starts with Kobe setting the screen for whoever the point guard is with Pau and Bynum on the weak side.

After the initial 1/2 screen is set, the point guard takes a dribble in Pau’s direction and gives him the ball at either the pinch post or free throw line extended. Where you see Kobe in this picture is usually about where he stops after he rolls off the screen, but in this particular set, he cuts all the way to the block. The point guard starts heading to the corner to replace Ron while Ron starts sliding up to the free throw line extended. When Pau receives the pass, Bynum starts coming up the line to set the screen for Pau. These actions were pretty much standard of the 4/5 pick and roll sets the Lakers have been running.

In the other sets, Kobe would be around the pinch post opposite of Pau by the time Bynum starts rolling off of the screen. Ron and Blake are in positions similar to every other time I’ve seen this set run. Having those guys on the perimeter opposite of the action completely takes any help defenders out of the paint. Even with Kobe on the opposite block, C.J. Miles has his back turned to the action and the other two defenders are paying more attention to him than the pick and roll that is happing on the other side of the court. Moving the point guard to the corner is probably one of the more brilliant parts of the design of this set. When the ball is on the opposite side of a defender, the defender furthest away from the action has the most leeway in help defense, which would be the guy defending the point guard in the corner. Instead of having a small forward coming down to help, you get C.J. Watson coming down, the smallest guy on the court (he wasn’t even in position to help on this one, but you get the point).

If executed, what you end up with is a fantastic passing power forward throwing a lob to the best finisher at the rim on the Lakers and nine guys watching the big man throw one down. Further more, the best defender on the floor is the one at the top of the perimeter and would be the first guy back should a turnover or missed shot attempt happen. If the pass isn’t on target, you have Kobe at the free throw line and the best three point shooter you have on the floor in the corner wide open.

Last night, the Lakers set up like they were going to run the 4/5 pick and roll right after the opening tip, but instead sent Kobe along the baseline to pop up on the weak side with Pau and Bynum. They ran a 2/5 pick and roll, and after Bynum rolled, Kobe kicked it to the corner where Pau was standing, who subsequently lobbed the ball into Bynum. A new wrinkle, same result. Check out the play illustrated above in real time below.


Phillip Barnett