Monday, December 20, 2010

Center Opposite Variations

Today we will take a closer look at the center opposite and see how the Lakers counter against the 2-3 zone.

Before looking into the center opposite's variations, lets review the center opposite setup (previously covered in these past posts).  Here is a side out of bounds setup from a Lakers preseason game:

At the beginning of the clip, we see Kobe signal for the center opposite:

Kobe enters the ball into Fisher.  Fisher swings the ball to Artest, emulating a lag pass.  The ball is entered to the opposite wing, Matt Barnes.  Fisher cuts across the lane to fill the corner.  Kobe rubs off Gasol right behind Fisher to receive the ball in the post, forming a triangle:
- Fisher in the corner
- Barnes at the wing
- Kobe in the post
- Artest at defensive balance
- Gasol at weakside wing
The pass to Kobe in the post is a two pass to the post, keying:
- Barnes to run an action zone speed cut, cutting to screen Gasol
- Fisher speed cutting the baseline
- Artest fanning away to the garden spot
Kobe takes his man and forces a bad shot.

Here we see the center opposite run in a live ball situation:

Again we see Kobe signal the center opposite.  Fisher fakes the strong side entry, then lag passes to Kobe and cuts across the lane to fill the corner.  Odom rubs off Gasol behind Fisher and receives the ball for the layup.

Now that we've reviewed the center opposite setup, we'll look at the Raptors game from earlier today to see some alternate center opposite variations.

The play starts from a side out of bounds.  Instead of entering the ball into Fisher (who would then lag pass to Odom), Fisher goes to fill the strong side corner.  Kobe enters the ball into Odom up top.  Fisher cuts the baseline to fill the opposite corner and Kobe follows by rubbing off Gasol to fill the post.  Barnes passes to Fisher, who looks to feed Kobe, but the Raptors do a good job denying the post entry, so the Lakers belatedly run the options for a two pass to the corner:
- Barnes cuts (normally a banana cut)
- Kobe goes to set a screen
Fisher fakes his defender into the screen and takes a direct line to the basket but misses the layup.  The Raptors fail to box out and the Lakers get multiple offensive rebounds resulting in an easy dunk.

Here we see a classic center opposite setup:
- Fisher lag passes and cuts across to the corner
- Odom swings the ball to Artest in the wing
- Kobe readies himself to rub off Gasol
However, the Raptors look ready to stop the play. Kobe's defender is already fighting over Gasol's rub cut to start denying Kobe's post feed, so Kobe elects to stay put.  Kobe signals Artest to swing the ball back to Odom.  Kobe steps out, and since his defender was readying to deny Kobe from getting to the post, Kobe finds himself with rare airspace to fire the catch and shoot three.

As the game progresses, the Raptors moved into a 2-3 zone.  The center opposite, which sees the overload and the ball quickly exchange sides of the floor, is a natural counter.

We see the center opposite setup:
- Blake lag passes and cuts
- Brown swings the ball into Barnes in the wing
- Walton rubs off Bynum and enters the post
Barnes hits the cutting Blake, who pulls out to hit Walton in the post, which acts as a two pass to the post keying:
- Barnes action zone speed cut
- Blake speed cut along the baseline
- Brown fanning away to the garden spot
Walton hits the first cutter, Barnes, who unfortunately misses the layup.

Here again the Lakers face the 2-3 zone and we'll see another adjustment for the center opposite:

We see the setup for the center opposite, but Barnes shows little desire to rub across to the post.  Instead, the play is for Blake who fakes cutting to the corner and cuts back along the baseline.  Bynum is ready and sets a screen for Blake.  The ball is swung back to Blake for a wide open corner three (the most efficient jump shot in basketball!).  He misses, but the Lakers are able to secure the miss and Bynum goes back up for the hook.

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