Clipboard: John Wall Moving Without the Ball

Mar 30, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) and head coach Randy Wittman talk during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Wizards defeated the 76ers 97 - 76. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Since it seems that Randy Wittman is coming back for another year, let's examine one of the more interesting ways Wittman used John Wall. At times, Wittman took the ball out of Wall’s hands so he could create space for himself by using off-ball screens. Let’s take a look at that play and how it worked against various defenses.

Against Detroit, the play worked perfectly. Wall gives up the ball and circles around screens from Chris Singleton and Nenê. As he gets the ball back, he receives two more screens from Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin and ends up running a pick-and-roll with Seraphin. Wall’s defender (Brandon Knight) is trailing the play, leaving Greg Monroe at a disadvantage. Wall makes a nice dish for the layup. The full play is below.

The play turns into a pick-and-roll, but all of those screens prior to Seraphin’s make the defense move and react. The help defenders can’t load up against the pick-and-roll because they are worried about helping on the off-ball screens.

Against Detroit, things went smoothly because there wasn’t too much interference from help defenders. In these next two clips, we see Wall hesitate because of an extra help defender. Wall loops around the off-ball screens and gets the ball screen from Seraphin, as usual. As Seraphin rolls to the hoop, Jordan Crawford’s defender (Monta Ellis and Greivis Vasquez in these two clips) stays in the lane for a moment preventing the pass to the rolling Seraphin. Check out the video below.

In both of the clips, Wall makes a ball/eyebrow fake to move Ellis and Vasquez out of the lane. When they vacate the area, he is able to lob it to Seraphin. The Wizards get shots at the rim on both of these plays, but you can see how it wasn’t quite as pretty. A bit of luck was involved, as the defense had Wall cut off, but the pass connected anyway.

Defenses anticipated Wall’s action as the play began, as well. In the play below, Brandon Jennings jumps ahead of Wall before he can run off of the first off-ball screen. Wall correctly reads his defender and cuts directly to the wing instead of running around the screens. As the play unfolds, instead of getting a layup, Wall has to settle for a jumper. Check out the play below and look at the various ways the play went wrong.

Because of the way Jennings forced Wall away from his off-ball screens, there are a few parts of the play that malfunctioned.

First of all, when Wall catches the ball he’s wide open; Jennings gets lost in the mass of bodies in the lane. Unfortunately, Wall isn’t prepared to shoot as he catches the ball, and, of course, he can’t shoot threes anyway. Here, his limited shooting ability gives the defense an easy way to defend him off of the ball.

Next, because Wall skipped over the off-ball screens, Chris Singleton’s timing is way off. Normally, he would clear out to the opposite side of the floor, taking his defender with him. Here we see that he is still in the middle of the play, and his defender is in the way of Seraphin’s roll to the hoop. Changing up the play on the fly could be difficult for the rookie.

Jennings' initial defense eventually leads to Wall settling for a jumper at the end of the play.

This play was one way Randy Wittman kept defenses off balance while running numerous pick-and-rolls with John Wall. If Wall adds range on his jumper, it opens up more off-ball options for Randy Wittman to use next year.

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