Notes on the New Warriors Offense, Part 1: The Post

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Series So Far: part 2 on offense, part 1 on defense.

Update 10-23: I added analysis of Curry's getting trapped in the corner twice.

Okay, I've watched and tracked almost every televised offensive possession of this preseason to try to get my head around the new offensive system. I think I have grasped some of the system. I can't fit it all into this post, but this will be a start, and I will try to add more articles. Things will change... the real season will surely have a different mix with new plays added and bad plays thrown out.

This first part will focus on the newest piece of the O, which is feeding the post and having the post read the D. This takes advantage of Lee and Bogut strengths (high IQ, good passers, adequate post play when moving) and conceals their weakness (ineffective ISO post play... when Lee ISOs, the official scorer probably hovers her hand over the Blocked Shot key).

Basic Principles

Let's first recall the basic principles of the system as announced in many Kerr interviews.

- Motion. If you do a standard play like a Pick and Roll or a Post up, be moving so no one can set themselves for the play.

- Reversal. Change sides of the court so the D will have to keep changing looks and re-positioning themselves.

- Big Passing. Give the bigs chances to read and pass.

- Off-ball Play. Particularly, use many screens away from the ball, if you pick and roll, pre-screen for the pick as they come up.

- Interchangeable Roles. Roles in plays can be filled by almost anyone.

- Pace and Improvisation. Push the ball early before the D can set, create chaos and let players create.

- Deception. Run different plays out of similar sets.

Outline of the System

Here is the rough outline of the system. They don't follow this recipe every time but this explains most of the flow.

1. Run. When the Ws get the ball, they should run on anything: made basket, rebound, block, turnover, everything except in-bounding after time stoppage. If the D is disorganized, go ahead and attack the basket in the chaos, or run right into a basic high pick and roll with shooters spaced. (This plays to the creative strengths of Curry and general high IQ and good team passing.)

2. Reset and Read. If there's nothing, reset. There are three main looks. (A) Most plays start with a triangle "lag pass" from one side back to someone at the top of the key and players three across; (B) Some plays start right with a pass to the sideline with immediate post entry; (C) Occasionally, a more traditional guard dribbling up top looking for shooters coming off screens.

3. Fallbacks. If the play breaks down, pick one of a set of possible fallback action, including HORNS, "Post-Cross" (more below), and simple Pick and Roll. (Don't straight ISO unless there's no choice.)

This post will focus on the (2B) post options, since it's the newest twist this year.

The Post-Cross Set

The Ws run this A LOT. I'll call this action the Post-Cross out of ignorance of its actual name. It looks to me like a Triangle action, but a little different from the Phil Jackson Bulls/Lakers sets. I eagerly await a bballbreakdown that gives some history and more analysis.
Basically someone feeds the post. Then are currently three simple options: cross-screen, dive, or the post attacks the basket.

1. Cross-Screen

The handler passes into the post and immediately hunts down the defender of the nearest shooter and sets a screen. Here are two vanilla versions.

Classic Post-Cross. (Iggy entry to Lee, screen for Klay, Lee pitch to Klay)

Classic Post-Cross. (Klay entry to Green, screen for Barbosa, pitch to Barbosa for J). You can even see Klay waving at Barbosa to cut off his screen.

Bench Post-Cross. Here's a great example with Kuzmic, Holiday and Barnes which I can't get to encode right, so it might look like crap on your computer, sorry. But trust this play by play (it's from the 10/21 Clips game 2nd Period, 6:20).
They run on a rebound (Run on Everything!) and Barnes wisely Resets into the Post-Cross play. He feeds Holiday who feeds the post (Ha-Kuz). Then Holiday does the post-cross action, so he screens Barnes's defender (DJ) who seems to get confused with Redick about who's covering Barnes. Easy read for Kuz who throws back to Barnes who nicely fakes Hawes off his feet and drives to score.
Notice how completely different personnel can run the same play. This is a great little action for our shooters to run and it's simple enough that even rarely used combinations can run it.

Push the Pace, Post-Cross. In this variation, notice the Ws run on a rebound and get Green deep post position. This flows to the default cross-screen action, except Curry took a short cut passing straight to Green instead of going through Ig. Ig sets the automatic cross-screen anyway, giving Curry an open J.
Post-Cross Late Developing. Here there is an initial action which ends up with Post-Cross. Curry throws to the post, then finds Klay's man and screens him. The screen is a pretty indifferent one so the defender recovers to bother Klay. (The initial action, and maybe this whole set, I believe is a Motion Weak set from Spurs... more on this set in the future.)

Variation with High "Post". This is technically another play, but is spiritually the same. Often a big will stand up high and a passer will throw him the ball and then (wait for it) screen for the nearest shooter. Because of the different geometry, in this version the Big can run dribble-pitch to the cutter (making it basically a moving pick and roll). Here Bogut rolls to the basket and saves the play (bad pass? bad catch?) with a sublime touch pass to Lee.

2. Post Attack

Post-Cross Declined.The post isn't required to pass out. If there is an overplay, he can just go to the hoop. In this post-cross, Barnes feeds Bogut and immediately goes to screen Curry's man as usual. (By now you see the pattern, right?) Bogut's feeling it, so he doesn't pass out, he just turns and hits the baby hook runner. If Paul had caught up to him, Curry would have been open under the basket, and if Green's defender had come over, Green would have been open. This play is more dynamic than throwing the ball to Bogut and letting him go 1-on-team.

Post-Cross, Post Attack. This is the usual cross screen: Curry enters to Bogut, and goes to screen AI's man. But Bogut feels space and attacks instead.

3. Cutting to Basket

What if the D overplays the screens? There is an option to decline the screen and go to the hoop. The post has to read this option and make the pass.

In this play, it eventually becomes Post-Cross. Klay enters to Lee then goes to screen Barnes's man. Barnes sees daylight under the hoop, waits until his man shifts weight towards the approaching Klay screen, and instead of using the screen, he cuts hard to the hoop. Beautiful pass, beautiful finish.

Here's one final clip (I'm getting tired and you're getting tired I bet). Barnes passes to post and screens for Curry. But Curry declines the screen and cuts hard to the basket. Lee throws an unbelievable pass to Curry who gets swarmed and bails out to Bogut. Instead of just posting up, Bogut resets and hands off to a great Klay cut.

Reflection and the Future

This new O is fun to watch. I haven't seen that much reading of the D in the preseason... the players run a particular option 2 or 3 times in a row whether or not the D is ready for them. We'll see how well this O works at game speed against D that has game planned to stop it. Then the Ws will have to get better at the second and third options...

I hope you enjoyed this. I certainly learned a lot doing it. If there is interest, I can continue this series to address other parts of the new offense such as:

- The Lag Pass and Reversals

- the HORNS set

- Spurs Motion Weak

- the Bench and the new O

- New Additions to the Offense

or whatever gets your interest.


(update bonus) Curry Trapped In the Corner Twice

Several people speculated that Curry's getting trapped in the corner was a product of getting used to the new offense (like Duby Dub Dubs below). They are absolutely correct, and it's a result of the exact Post-Cross play discussed above.

In the clip below, you see Curry push the ball off the rebound (Run On Everything), then Reset to Post-Cross. He feeds Barnes, who feeds the post then screens for Curry. The Barnes screen is solid and not too illegal (almost every screen nowadays looks illegal to me), and Curry is basically doubled by Barnes's man and also Lee's man on the second pick. At this point I believe the correct play is for Lee to be cutting hard to the hoop and for Curry to dish much earlier. Once he tries to turn the corner, he is vulnerable to being trapped and that's what happens.

The exact same thing happened earlier on the same post-cross play. Here Ha-Kuz is the post, Curry throws sideline to Barnes who passes to the post and screens Curry's man. Curry again tries to turn the corner and gets trapped. He tries a hook pass which would have been awesome if it had connected. The only pass that might have worked is a bounce pass between the defenders, I think.

So in short, this set is very hard to play right when the defenders double and trap every pick and roll, which we know the Clips do against Curry. There has to be a quick roll from the pick and a quick decisive pass out from Curry, or perhaps the post should slip the screen before Curry makes any move, so they are forced to choose Curry or the roll man.

Anyway, I'm sure Kerr and Curry discussed these exact plays in practice to figure out the right solutions.

As for Curry's hook passes... it seems to my naive eyes that he uses these way too often. I would rather see him set, turn and throw a solid bounce pass because the hook passes are pretty slow anyway so you lose the milliseconds you save by not setting, and they get intercepted a lot.

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!