09 February 2013

Bolts Becoming a Jump-Shooting Team?

Sol Mercado
Can a jump shooting team create great strides in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)? There were great teams in the past such as the formidable Grand Slamming Great Taste Coffee team that used their jump shots to the hilt courtesy of Willie Pearson, Atoy Co, Allan Caidic Arnie Tuadles and Philip Cezar.

However, if we take the views of National Basketball Association (NBA) legendary superstar, Charles Barkley, teams that take too many jump shots will not win you games. By his reasoning, basketball games are won in the paint, not on the perimeter, because that's a more dependable way to score. This opinion is grounded in Barkley's own experience as a power forward, but it's also conventional basketball wisdom.

With Sol Mercado taking his penetration drive to GlobalPort in exchange for Rey Guevarra, Vic Manuel, Josh Vanlandingham, the Meralco Bolts may have to subsist primarily on jump shots. With Macmac Cardona and Ronjay Buenafe, the Bolts is expected to take a lot of jumpers and hook shots. But is that going to pose a long-term problem?

I don’t think so. Let's try to differentiate the different kinds of jump shooting. There's what they call the Rudy Gay kind, where teams vomit up long shots out of isolations – as opposed to driving and drawing fouls. And then there’s the Golden State Warrior kind, where the jump shooters (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) also boast the ability to pressure defenses off the ball, simultaneously.

For the Bolts, what they could do with the likes of Vanlandingham, Mark Borboboran and Clifford Hodge is to use jump shooting as a way to optimize the team’s talent. They could work to get an open shot, which means they're more likely to reproduce good performances instead of relying on the luck of making low-percentage shots.

It's could be a smart approach for the Bolts, because there's really no reason why any single offensive approach would be better than another if the success of each is equally reproducible. It's not as if the Bolts are expected to hoist up prayers — they enter each game with the express purpose of taking open jump shots. If the shots aren't open, the offense isn't working, just as a team that tries to get the ball inside has failed if it can't make good entry passes.

Still, Barkley's point typically isn't that a team can't make the playoffs just by taking jump shots — it's that the team can't contend for a title. Frankly, there's some truth to that. The quarter and semi-final games operate under different rules than the regular games, because the competition is better and a long series gives the opponent multiple chances to adjust. That's particularly true of the later rounds, when defenses tend to be more adept at disrupting offenses dependent on precision over in-the-moment creativity and individual brilliance.

But the challenges posed by that scenario affect any offense, no matter if it's predicated on jumpers or post touches. The idea that a team can't win just by shooting jumpers is the same as saying that a team can't win by being one-dimensional. Every champion needs to present multiple options in order to win, because the nature of the Championship Series is that team's can't rely on one method of scoring. Even teams with superstars can't expect constant genius.

No comments:

Post a Comment