Beno Udrih isn't the quickest point guard in the league. In fact, he's probably the second slowest in the division, and maybe the entire conference. (Derek Fisher is slow.) As such, we don't actually expect Udrih to blow by his opponent in the halfcourt offense.
But the team has been running a ton of picks-and-rolls. And the Kings have some good ball-screeners. Brad Miller's best attribute right now might be his screening. Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson set solid screens. Mikki Moore sets decent screens. That is not a problem. If a screen is called, a screen is generally delivered.
The standard defense against a Kings screen-roll is that the opposing big forces Udrih to make a decision: split the defenders, or go wide around the big. These days, Udrih always go wide. It might be the smart move -- we have seen myriad turnovers when trying to split the defenders. But when Udrih goes wide, he really goes wide. On most screen-rolls Monday night, Udrih had roughly three feet between himself and the big when he "turned the corner." I put that in quotes because, well, Beno never really turns the corner.
He goes so wide the corner becomes more of semi-circle. And invariably, the point guard catches up. You can only screen for so long, after all. As such, Beno is never really attacking the basket. By the time he is actually moving toward the rim, it's more of an isolation play.
Think about the infamous spin move against Kobe. Beno received a pick, but still ended up in a one-on-one situation. When is the last time we saw Beno get to the rim in the halfcourt without a spin move or crossover? Screen-rolls should be taking the place of spin moves and crossovers. They are supposed to make it easier to get to the rim, set up mismatches (on switches) or get the big open for a jumper (when both defenders chase the point guard). Beno's screen-rolls do none of those. They get Beno about two feet closer to the basket, with the opposing guard exerting maybe three extra seconds of effort.
Is it a defensive thing? Is the only good move for Beno in this situation to split the defenders? Beno's dribble can be so sloppy that you cring every time he tries to split (he almost never does it any more -- assumed to be at the direction of Reggie Theus), but that's really the only play if the big is going to hedge so wide. The other smart option would be to run screens toward the corner -- if Beno goes wide in the direction of the corner, and you have a spot-up shooter there, you figure someone can get an open shot. Particularly, running a wing pick-and-roll could be valuable with Francisco Garcia or John Salmons in the corner. Both of those players can hit the corner three or drive baseline. And we all know Beno only spins left. So set up on the right side, bring a big from the strong-side post up to pick Beno's defender, send Beno wide toward the baseline, and make a decision. Maybe Udrih can't go right in this instance -- that'd be incredibly sad if he couldn't run a pick-and-roll heading this direction, but whatever -- but it'd certainly provide better options than the screen-rolls to the middle of the floor have.
The other option, of course, is that Beno could fricking turn the corner and attack downhill. You're a strong fellow, man, and a pretty crafty finisher to boot. If you can get in front of your defender, they aren't going to block you from behind. But you need to beat them to the rim. You aren't quick enough to snap them one-on-one. Use your pick. Abuse the opponent a few times -- they'll switch the defense and perhaps send both guys at you to try to trap. That's when all these bigs who can shoot come in handy. And that's when your assist totals soar. You think all of Chris Paul's assists come on alley-oops? Come on, Peja is his favorite target. Attract attention off the screen, and the passing lanes will open up. It's sort of like magic, only not.
Beno complained earlier this season that the team runs too much of the offense through the high post. Kenny Natt has obviously tried to mix in more screen-rolls -- he's a Jerry Sloan acolyte, for goodness sake. If Beno ever wants a pick-and-roll offense in Sacramento, this is his chance. But Udrih is blowing it by refusing to attack. Bobby Brown, for all his ballhandling faults, splits the defenders. Things haven't been happening for him at that point -- Brown tends to get spooked when the shotblockers rotate; he isn't a natural passer, so he'll circle out or kick it too early or dribble in deep and throw one off the highest point of the backboard or he'll pull up (that's actually his best move). But Beno is a natural passer and does understand how to deal with shotblockers and has a decent feel for when to kick the ball to the wings. Brown is learning to become a point guard. Beno is a point guard. But he won't put himself in a position to be successful, and the team's offense has suffered immensely because of it.
Also, free D.G.