Michael Imperioli voice: That’s cool. John Wall just poured Yi a shot. What can your point guard do?… nuthin.
This here was my favorite play of the night because all five Wizards seemed to know where they were going and moved with purpose–not always a given. Hard screens were set, tears were shed, and Yi Jianlian drilled a 17 footer. The Wizards ran this out of a timeout midway through the second quarter in a sideline out of bounds situation.
1) The Wizards begin with Hinrich inbounding and Armstrong, Wall, Yi, and Thornton (who had a very nice game) standing in a line across the free throw-line-extended. Hinrich enters the ball to Wall who is coming off a perfunctory Armstrong screen, while Yi goes away from the space he wants to use by heading down to the block.
2) After freeing up Wall, Armstrong heads down to set a pick for Yi. Meanwhile, Thornton crosses through the middle of the court and Hinrich makes his way along the baseline. These two cuts are meant to clear out the middle of the court and occupy the potential help defenders as Yi comes up for a high screen and roll with Wall. Because Yi himself is coming off of a screen, his man is trailing more than he normally would, so he will be unavailable for a hard hedge on Wall. Instead, he’ll sluff off of both Yi and Wall to prevent penetration as any help is occupied by the Hinrich-Thornton crossing action.
3) As Wall comes off the high screen and Yi pops, Hinrich releases off of Hilton Armstrong’s third screen in three seconds. Wall is dribbling to Hinrich’s side and has four options: score off the drive or pull up himself, find Hinrich in rhythm for the trey, or flip the ball to Yi for a 17 footer. In this case, Yi’s man hung on the right side of the floor to prevent Wall from turning the corner, leaving the 7 footer wide open. Yi catches and, without hesitating, pumps in the jumper. The only player available to help on Yi is Thornton’s man, who can’t leave because Thornton will back-cut to the hoop if he rotates.
The execution of this play was flawless, and I love the design because every player, excepting Thornton in this case, has an important role to play. Wall is the capable catalyst–it’s on him to make the right read between himself, Yi and Hinrich. In this case, perhaps in honor of Asian Heritage Night, Wall pours Yi the shot.