First, a bit of context.
Luke Walton’s offense is divided into two parts, based on whether or not the offensive possession was preceded by a whistle. This is true of most, if not all of the offenses in the NBA. If the Lakers get the ball off of a defensive rebound or a steal, they’re usually going to play off of principles instead of running a set play. This allows them to attack the defense before it’s set, rather than wait for every Laker to get to the right spot so they can run a premeditated play. This can involve Drag Screens, Delays, or any number of other quick-hitting actions.
If the previous play ended with a whistle – such as a foul, a timeout, or if the ball went out of bounds – then Walton is usually going to run a set play. After timeout plays (ATOs), baseline out of bounds (BLOBs), or sideline out of bounds (SLOBs) plays are three of the more common circumstances where a coach can show off his X’s and O’s chops.
In the debut installment of Talking Nerdy with Luke, Walton and I discuss the recent success that the Lakers have enjoyed on these plays, and how the coaching staff constructs them.
Me: “Your ATOs and out of bounds plays have been really productive lately. Is that something that you’re just drawing up, or do you have an Offensive Coordinator? How do those plays come about?”
Luke Walton: “Jordan’s just making shots. (smiles) No, when you watch tape, you see plays that other teams are running and if you like something and if you think it fits well with your personnel you’ll steal it. Some of it is just in the flow of the game. If you get guys that are hot, it’s good to use them as back screeners, or things of that nature. But yeah, Jesse Mermuys is kind of the Offensive Coordinator with a lot of that stuff, and then some of it is just feel during the game, and some of it is just trying out plays that you see other teams running.”
Me: “How much of that is advanced scouting, where you kind of know that this is going to work against the Knicks or that is going to work against the Pacers?”
Walton: “That’s part of the game-planning. You watch film and you see how they’re gonna scout. So we know if they’re gonna sag off of Julius or if they’re gonna blitz JC, then we’ll put JC off the ball and use Julius as a wide pin-man, because his man will be in the paint and there will be less help. So that part of it comes from the scouting and understanding how teams like to defend certain coverages, and then you kinda try to built a list of plays that can work against the way teams defend. And then during the game you kinda just look through that and pick which one you wanna roll with.”
Sometimes we forget that Luke is in a similar position that Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart are in. He’s making progress just like they are.
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