Great article in the Oregonian on Nicolas Batum’s ability to defend the point and in particular his ability to provide full court pressure defense against PGs and how he slows down the opposing team’s offense by doing so.
Meet the Trail Blazers’ newest defensive weapon, an old weapon used from time to time the last couple of seasons that has been dusted off and polished for the stretch run. When coach Nate McMillan inserted Gerald Wallace into the starting lineup 10 days ago, he did so in part to stimulate a more aggressive defense that applies pressure through a variety of half-court traps and full-court schemes.
But while Wallace received most of the attention during the lineup shuffle, it turns out that Batum — specifically his ability to defend point guards full-court — was one of the biggest facilitators of the move.
More on the specifics involved
“It’s been good for us,” McMillan said. “That’s where your defense starts, controlling the ball. And he has been our best guy as far as getting up and working the ball and controlling the ball. It’s helps us establish the style of play that we want to play.”
Although it was nothing more than a footnote, in two of the Blazers’ last three victories Batum’s full-court pressure was a difference-maker. He set the tone early during a landslide victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, neutralizing Sessions from the opening tip. And two days later, against Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers, Batum did it again.
In the Blazers’ small starting lineup — Wallace replaced center Marcus Camby — Wallace “shadows” the ball after a made shot, face-guarding the player in-bounding the ball. Batum immediately attaches himself to the point guard and tries to prevent him from catching the ball, or at the very least, from merely walking the ball up the court after he receives the in-bound pass.
The tactic rarely stimulates a steal in the backcourt. But over the course of a game, Batum’s pressure can be disruptive to an offense and annoying to an opposing point guard, who is used to casually strolling up the court and setting up the offense. At best, Batum completely eliminates a point guard from initiating the offense, forcing another, less-capable player to bring the ball up the court and set up a play. At worst, the pressure takes a few extra seconds off the clock and delays an offense.
Either way, when done right, a team’s flow has been rattled and the number of offensive options has been reduced.
“You eliminate at least one or two more options that you’ve got to defend,” McMillan said. “Now their timing is off a little bit. The more you can do that, the more disruption you can cause. Every day you practice with your point guard starting your offense. Well if all of a sudden your two guard has to start your offense, it’s tough. You can adjust, but it’s not natural.”
Inspiring the Blazers’ defense in the process
There’s also a domino effect of the 6-foot-8 Batum, with his long and athletic frame, chasing smaller, faster players around the court.
“It’s contagious,” Wesley Matthews said. “When you see somebody stepping up their level of play and pressuring, you feed off that. It’s a team and we all function as one and if someone does it, then everyone else tends to do it. And that makes our defense that much better.”
An excellent article worth reading in full – link
Nicolas Batum is one of the best wing defenders at switching onto PGs in the NBA. His combination of quickness, length, smarts and defensive ability make him a very tough matchup for opposing PGs.
Most PGs are not used to being defended by a player with Batum’s attributes. Or a Trevor Ariza or Corey Brewer. Someone of that ilk … with a major size advantage and great length and quickness.
Players with those abilities can be fantastic for disrupting the flow of a top PG.