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Al Horford and the Stretch 5 is a factor in the 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense!  Diagrams by Coach John Zall

2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense

The Boston Celtics big free agent signing doesn’t show up in his stats, but he is a factor in the 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense. Al Horford has been a blessing for the Celtics beyond the box score. We see the center position sliding away with the age of small ball.

Al Horford has been playing out of position for most of his career. The Atlanta Hawks had him playing the five, but he was the number one option. In Boston, Horford is the number two option behind Isaiah Thomas. Indeed, it would have helped him in Atlanta if he was the second alternative in Atlanta. Horford is a better second option, and his value increases when the scoring load isn’t on his shoulders. All you have to do is what the Boston Celtics this year to see what effect that he is having with the 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense.

The NBA is having a radical change with the post player position. Al Horford is showing how you can have a small five player. Look at the NBA Playoff game with Washington, Isaiah Thom had 53 points and got all the glory. Horford had 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists, but he had a big-time impact. The small ball center is showing a tremendous impact across the league even when they don’t post huge numbers.

In the past, the NBA playoff teams had big guys that scored a lot. In the new league, the best thing that small ball centers can do for their team is to space the floor and make plays when they need him. Today’s big kids could learn a lot from watching Al Horford.

The 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense is an evolution of the NBA max-contract where teams aren’t wanting to spend huge money on them. The stretch center can play a huge role in the NBA by simply stretching the defense out. These players are more about spacing the floor and letting the ball handlers go to work instead of worrying about points and rebounds.

The Washington Wizards Center got moved out of the paint by
Al Horford in the playoffs on many occasions. Draymond Green (7 assists) is the only big guy that has more assists per game than Al Horford (5 assists). The beauty of the stretch five is that the player doesn’t need to touch the ball to make an impact on the game. Horford’s movement is almost like an assist. When an impact player doesn’t have to hold the ball to make an impact, then that is HUGE.

According to Synergy, Thomas scores 1.1 points per possession in isolation plays during the NBA regular season. A lot of that credit goes to Horford because he forces the overplay on the point guard and it leaves him open.

Creating space is a HUGE component in today’s 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense. The Golden State Warriors took the league by storm two years ago. Other teams are going more small ball in their lineups like LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The NBA Cleveland Cavaliers were able to handle Serge Ibaka in the playoffs since he couldn’t leave Kevin Love in the corner. It made his shot-blocking skills not useful.

We have all seen it where Lebron James drives to the paint, Ibaka crashes the paint to stop him. Lebron kicks the ball out to Kevin Love for the open three-point shot. Kevin Love had some high scoring performances this season, because of Lebron James and Kyrie Irving.

Kevin Love and Al Horford can’t do traditional big-man jobs like rebounding and rim protection. Horford gets criticized for his rebounding and Love for his lack of rim protection. You can’t argue that they aren’t both very valuable to their teams. They both aren’t putting max-contract numbers, but they are both making max-level contributions to their teams. The Houston Rockets were the only team that shot more three-point shots than the Cavaliers and Celtics this year.

The Houston Rockets shot a record amount of three-point shots this year, and they don’t have a traditional big man in Clint Capella. They played five out the offense with a center who could shoot threes like Ryan Anderson a lot of times. James Harden felt the benefit of playing with Ryan Anderson this year.

The NBA is now valuing shooting and ball movement more than ever before with the Stretch 5. It’s crazy that this floor-spacing is having such an effect. The Rockets didn’t play Anderson at the five spot that much, because of defensive purposes, but they did on occasion.

I don’t know that the NBA will have more and more teams go “small ball” as the Golden State Warriors, but the formula is on the table now. The Cavaliers and Celtics have bought into the method.

I think that you will always have a superstar big man like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, but the Stretch 5 is getting bigger and bigger now. The NBA is evolving according to the personnel given. Look at the upcoming 2017 NBA draft; there is no Davis or Embiid “type” players in it. They have a ton of stretch five players like Larir Markkanen or rim runners like Bam Adebayo or Ike Anigbogu.

We will just have to wait to see what happens with the 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense. For the time being, this offense will help high school teams out, because it’s what your personnel usually looks like. Small ball isn’t ever going away.

Click on the pdf link to download the 2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense:

2017 NBA Playoffs Crunch Time Offense

If you liked this article and diagrams from Coach John Zall then check out this article:

Best NBA Clutch Time Set Plays of April 2016 by John Zall

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