Rockets Playbook: Examining Jeremy Lin’s favorite set

Jeremy Lin smilesBrowsing through the ClutchFans forum, I saw Jeremy Lin reveal his favorite Rockets set in an interview with Nick Hauselman, also known as “Coach Nick” of Bballbreakdown.

His favorite offensive set? The backside pick-and-roll.

I immediately knew what set Jeremy was referring to and have several clips of the Rockets running it successfully, so let’s take a look:

As Jeremy explained, the initial high pick-and-pop is just false motion to get the defense moving and disguise the Rockets’ true intent. In reality, what they’re looking to execute is a backside pick-and-roll/dribble hand-off.

This is very hard to guard because it happens so fast. As a result, the defense frequently ends up out of position — thus limiting their ability to hedge or force the the pick-and-roll down (toward the baseline/sideline).

This, in turn, also leaves the defense vulnerable to middle penetration, which good defenses generally try to prevent. Once middle penetration occurs, it opens up all sorts of options for the offense (see 0:00-1:38 of the video compilation).

The only way for the defense to prevent middle penetration, really, is either by going under the screen — which opens things up to players pulling up from three, as James Harden is great at recognizing and taking advantage of — or denying the ball to the player coming up from the corner, which makes the defense vulnerable to back-door cuts or leaves an open jumper for the Rockets’ power forward.

Simple, yet very effective, which is why it shouldn’t be surprising that both the Spurs and Thunder also make use of this set.

I was actually a bit surprised to hear that it’s Lin’s favorite set, though. Although it’s one of the most effective sets for the Rockets, Jeremy usually only gets to initiate it, rather than play the key role.

Nonetheless, rather than be overly concerned with his role, Lin still seems to be on board due to its success for the team as a whole. It’s another reason why he’s a very easy person to root for.

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