First, let me say that I appreciate the feedback on my last article, which was the first of many on-court analysis pieces that I’ll be doing throughout the season. I’ll definitely be expanding outside of just the offensive end as well. I do have a few articles in the works, but I wanted to continue with my screen-and-roll analysis.
Before I dive into the videos, I want to point out that not every screen serves the exact same purpose. Please keep that in mind as my breakdown looks to demonstrate why a technique may work in one situation, but not in another.
In my first screen-and-roll analysis, I pointed out that junior forward Kene Chukwuka exited a ball screen by continuing through the path in which he set the screen. Through the first six games of the season, I’d say that 90% of the time, that’s how Chukwuka exits his screens.
Sometimes this technique makes a lot of sense, like above. Chukwuka looked to jam freshman guard Xavier Johnson’s defender so that Johnson had the opportunity to go one-on-one with a bigger, albeit slower defender. Another good indicator that Chukwuka’s role (no pun intended) was by design is that Johnson never really even looked for him after coming off the screen.
Here is where Chukwuka gets into trouble when exiting by continuing through the path in which he sets a screen. You can see that he nearly tripped as his left foot got caught on Johnson’s defender. Had he pivoted with his right foot back towards the basket, that wouldn’t have been an issue. Ultimately, it still worked out for Pitt, and Chukwuka got an easy basket via a nice assist from Johnson.
This last clip didn’t result in 2 points for the Panthers. Instead, it ended as a turnover because Chukwuka got caught as he exited the screen, and even a decent swim move didn’t help him recover. There were some small spacing issues, initially, and timing was everything on this play. Still, when Chukwuka looked to exit the screen there was room for him to pivot with his left foot back towards the basket.
The timing was completely thrown off during the play because Chukwuka couldn’t free himself fast enough due to exiting the screen by continuing through the path in which he set it.
Johnson was obviously ready with the pass. The defenders guarding junior guard Malik Ellison and senior guard Jared Wilson-Frame were kept honest, as Johnson had an option to pass to either of them. That would have been the perfect time to drop a pass to the rolling Chukwuka.
One second later Johnson tried the pocket pass to Chukwuka, but Wilson-Frame’s defender recognized what was happening and slid behind Chukwuka. He was able to get a hand on the ball when Chukwuka went to gather and the result was a turnover instead of another easy layup. Had Chukwuka arrived a half second earlier, the defender would have been forced to foul or concede the layup.
Personally, I believe that Chukwuka is the starting forward because he has become much better at setting off-ball and on-ball screens, and that’s a big part of Pitt’s offense. If he’s able to make this small adjustment, it would force the defense into having to make really quick decisions when Johnson calls for a Chukwuka screen.
Johnson is already at the top of opponents scouting reports, or he will be very soon. Defending him in screen-and-roll situations would be something I would heavily emphasize, and if they have to account for a sure-handed, capable forward in Chukwuka it will be far harder to guard Johnson, and by extension, the Panthers.