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Ben Gordon and Jonas Jerebko finally click on pick and roll

The Pistons have run a play many times this year where Ben Gordon uses a screen set by Jonas Jerebko. It has often led to a turnover or  bad shot. I remember once when Gordon tried to pass to Jerebko expecting him to be diving to the basket, but Jerebko faded to the 3-point line, and the ball sailed out of bounds.

Every time I saw this play I thought, “Man, this play really looks like it should work. Why the heck doesn’t it?”

Last night against the Bobcats, with about 11 minutes left in the third quarter, they ran the same play again – this time with a different result.


Brandon Knight (great performance, by the way) is dribbling up top. Gordon is right underneath the basket, about to decide whether to use Jerebko’s or Greg Monroe’s screen. He opts for Jerebko’s.


Gordon is an above-average screen user. He’s not quite Ray Allen, but he’s not Stephen Jackson, either.

There are a few essentials when using a screen.

You want to swing through with the leg closer to the screener to run by your teammate as closely as possible. That will give you extra space for your release. Notice how well Gordon is doing that.

Also, he takes a long step with his left leg, enabling him to take a quick shot.

Jerebko’s defender, Boris Diaw, is forced to make a decision. Either he leaves Gordon wide open for a jumper or a drive to the basket, or he steps away from Jerebko to bother Gordon. He chooses the latter.


This is the moment Jerebko stayed at the 3-point line the last time, and Gordon quickly passed the ball out of bounds along the baseline. Jerebko was much more aggressive last night, and instead of fading, he dives right to the basket. Byron Mullens (guarding Monroe on the other side) should be in better help position, but at this point, the play is pretty much over.


Gordon’s quick touch pass reaches Jerebko on point, and he dunks easily.

These are the small things that will improve throughout the season. The Pistons haven’t not had a lot of time to internalize certain parts of the playbook, especially plays like this that demand quick decision-making . I don’t want to go overboard just because we beat a bad team, but there’s an upside to the Pistons, who might have a brighter future than many think.


  • Jan 14, 20122:15 pm
    by Daye and Knight


    We’ll have a brighter future if Frank would realize that Gordon needs to come off the bench and we get a big man to play w/Monroe, until that happens we’ll keep losing unless we go up against the bobcats every game the rest of the season.

    • Jan 14, 20123:01 pm
      by Jakob Eich


      Who would you start at the 2 instead? Stuckey can play there for stretches, but his jumper is just too bad to be a starting SG! I agree on the big man thing, it’s our biggest need, I don’t think it will be fixed until the draft so we might as well try to do the best we can with what we got!

      • Jan 14, 20123:19 pm
        by Daye and Knight


        Stuckey commits less turnovers and has better defense, Brandon Knight has no problem shooting the ball, Rodey can take it in and teams will close the lane to try and stop them, then Stuckey can either likely draw the foul or kick it out to an open Brandon Knight. Gordon can be a spark off the bench and maybe then his turnovers and bad defense won’t be so crucial.

        • Jan 14, 20123:21 pm
          by Daye and Knight


          Plus he’s getting better on his jump shot, he’s hit a 3 at least once in almost every game, if he continues to work on that in what is pretty much an already meaningless season, the better we are in 2013

          • Jan 14, 20124:00 pm
            by Jakob Eich

            Granted, he has become a solid three-point shooter at .313, but he is also shooting .311 from the field overall. It’s hard to make the case for him right now to start at SG. One of his strength is his superior physique compared to other PGs, if you let him play SG he won’t have that advantage. Stuckey already suffers from playing more at the two this year, starting him there would make it worse.

  • Jan 14, 20122:44 pm
    by frankie d


    it’s pitiful that the successful execution of a pick and roll is cause for any sort of note.
    most nba teams run that simple play to death.  unfortunately, the pistons’ guard play has been so woeful the last few years that a successful pick and roll is seen as an anomaly, an exceptional play and not a routine play.  
    the only person who’s been capable of running it smoothly since chauncey was mcgrady, last year.   mcgrady was a great pick and roll man.  with his length and ability to see the floor and make good decisions, he was a joy to watch when he dissected defenses with that simple play.  however, the other pistons’ guards’ decision-making – gordon’s included – is so typically bad that they are incapable of running a play that most quality nba point guards run in their sleep.  running it requires coaching, and execution and quick decision-making and all of those things have been rare the last few years.
    let’s hope that knight is able to develop enough so that this simple play becomes a regular weapon in his arsenal.

    • Jan 14, 20122:56 pm
      by Jakob Eich


      Good to see it working for once nonetheless, right?

      • Jan 14, 20123:56 pm
        by frankie d


        definitely.  i would like to see the coach do something really creative.
        how about using monroe on the ball, and having stuckey set the pick?
        with monroe’s vision and height, and ability to make decisions and pass and with stuckey’s ability to get to the hole, it would be a great combination.
        it would cause havoc with the defense, because i’m sure no one would ever prepare for it.  and even if they did prepare for it, guys defending it would be so out of their normal defensive roles it would probably work beautifully.

        • Jan 15, 20125:25 am
          by Jakob Eich


          I like your idea of using Monroe unconventionally, kind of like the Lakers used Odom in a very unconventional way, or Nowitzki has been used in Dallas throughout his career. I don’t mean he should bring the ball up, but the sets we could run with him would be definitely hard to adjust to. 

          Then again, the team obviously has problems getting the simple things right, so getting creative might be a little over the top for this team right now!

  • Jan 14, 20129:10 pm
    by OKJ


    I would like to you all that the play for a player without ball use screen player is “Pikc and Roll”?I thought the ball-man use the screener is P&R.

  • [...] Piston Powered did a great job of covering the improvement of the Pistons in their understanding of how to use screens and how it helps their teammates get open shots. If Detroit executes well on offense, it will leave [...]

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