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MVP
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I know we've talked about this on and off over the past 2 years but I decided to restart the conversation after a Clutchfans thread and have a thread to post all our frustrations and solutions to the fronting defense. Yao's touches have been consistently lower than his average when aggressive defenses force the guards to make outside shots and put a man in front of Yao. In the past years we've either had him come out and pick-and-roll with TMac (mediocre-fairly effective), or swung the ball back to the top of the perimeter and thrown it to Yao, who has sealed off his man. Both these are offensive adjustments that JVG is not always comfortable making in the middle of the game because:

A. This is not a crisp, efficient passing team
B. The majority of the shot clock is wasted dribbling around the perimeter and letting Yao battle to try and get in front of his man
C. When Yao is fronted, he gets called for offensive fouls and spends key minutes on the bench
D. The guards shoot so poorly defenses just surround Yao with 2-3 players, making it impossible to get any good touches. He's not going to jump out and pull a lob away from defenders, or always hold on to it if he does catch it (with a couple of players swiping at him). Not his game.

The best solution, IMO, is teaching Yao how to effectively seal off his defenders and moving the ball around the perimeter. The backcourt isn't shooting 18% every night, so the paint isn't going to be surrounded by opposing jerseys waiting to collapse on Yao.

Or...

The Triangle Offense.



We have everything it takes to implement one (except Tex Winter). Juwan Howard (4) is money with his elbow shot... that's the one above average part of his game. McGrady (2) is an amazing isolation player... give him space to work with and he single handedly wins games. Barry (3) is a great post feeder who can shoot and makes some great cuts to the basket. Alston (1) is a volume 3 point shooter who won't be asked to do much in this offense. Most importantly, Yao (5) has a way to beat fronting defenses as long as he seals off his man. Lobs are now possible (if defenses choose to front) because there is no one coming in from the weakside. If the opposing PF does come in from the elbow, Yao touch passes it to Howard who will have the ball right where he wants it. Yao is crafty and GREAT at finding cutters. It also leads to easy offensive putbacks for Yao if the guards shoot an outside shot instead. All this seems too complicated for a defensive specialist like JVG, but if this team wants to overcome their biggest weakness, it's something they need to work on over the course of the season.
 

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Sounds great -- these sorts of ideas usually do -- and I can't see why it couldn't work when those five are on the floor, but JVG would never do it.

I really don't know why Yao sometimes struggles so much when he's fronted. Three things I've always thought you'd benefit from in trying to overcome opposition that fronts you are height, a strong lower body, and good hands. Yao certainly has the first two, and his hands aren't too bad, so there's no reason to have such problems with it. Shooting range, passing ability and perimeter shooting teammates also help. I've never seen any center of Yao's caliber have similar troubles (and Ewing had hands like stalactites). It's easy to say, and I know he gets called for the tiniest things, but can't he just move the defender up to the high post, and then seal? That's an extremely obvious solution, but it's what everyone else has done when frustrated, and it's worked. At the moment, he appears to just get flustered, and starts wrestling with the guy on the spot and only calls for the ball half-heartedly.

He did pull it off terrifically one game -- I think it was against Sacramento. Someone threw a lob, the opposition came from the other side to stop Yao from getting it, but Yao caught it and spun just as he touched the ground, getting clear. But it doesn't look like he's going to be able to do that consistently. So why not just do it the easy way?
 

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Tru Warier
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I'm sick and drowsy right now, will read over this again later....

sometimes I just wonder why our NBA calibre guards have so much trouble spotting Yao yet Team China seem to have no problem getting the ball to the big guy all the time.
 

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Team China seem to have no problem getting the ball to the big guy all the time.
I've watched the CNT several times, and I don't think that's the case at all.

Anyway, it MRC's idea looks good...but that's just on paper. When you're out on the floor, it's more complicated.
 

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Yao Mania said:
sometimes I just wonder why our NBA calibre guards have so much trouble spotting Yao yet Team China seem to have no problem getting the ball to the big guy all the time.
well, actually Team China always had problem getting the ball to Yao unless they were playing against some crappy asian teams. Most times, Yao could only get less than 20 pts a game when China was playing against some elite European teams.They just couldn't get the ball to Yao which made Yao very frustrated.I remember when Rockets was discussing the contract with CBA,a Rockets officers promised like:"U guys don't need worry about the problem with passing to Yao any more if he come to Houston,we have great guards like Francis and Mobley,they have the ability of passing the ball to Yao at any time.:rolleyes:" I guess that's one of the reasons Yao was so happy with the fact that he was drafted by Houston.

In fact,when Yao was playing for Shanghai Sharks,of course most of the time he totally dominated,but when a team(Beijing Ao'shen) signed a guy who played in NCAA before and had a similar physiques as those NBA muscular guys,he gave Yao hard time and made Yao scored his season-low. He just fronted Yao at all costs or pushed him out of the paint. Yao is still not good at going after the lob now in the NBA. As Jon Barry said, it's very difficult to lob to Yao, Yao has hard time catching it and staying balanced. :(
 

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Tru Warier
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yes Demiloy and ktr, you guys are right, I wasn't thinking when I made that remark (as I said I was drowsy and sick...)

And great points from MRC, I always wonder why they don't swing the ball around more often. It's like when I see the perimeter freeze with the ball trying to get it to Yao, I know he's not going to get it 'cuz it's too late already...
 

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I agree that this is a good idea, but not sure JVG would do it. Yao has actually been able to beat fronting defenses.. somewhat... when the guards are hitting their shots. I don't think it's a coincidence everytime Yao is held to few shots it's because the guards are shooting horribly. Why wld other teams contest outside shots when you can have one guy fronting Yao and one guy behind him?
 

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Hakeem said:
Sounds great -- these sorts of ideas usually do -- and I can't see why it couldn't work when those five are on the floor, but JVG would never do it.

I really don't know why Yao sometimes struggles so much when he's fronted. Three things I've always thought you'd benefit from in trying to overcome opposition that fronts you are height, a strong lower body, and good hands. Yao certainly has the first two, and his hands aren't too bad, so there's no reason to have such problems with it. Shooting range, passing ability and perimeter shooting teammates also help. I've never seen any center of Yao's caliber have similar troubles (and Ewing had hands like stalactites). It's easy to say, and I know he gets called for the tiniest things, but can't he just move the defender up to the high post, and then seal? That's an extremely obvious solution, but it's what everyone else has done when frustrated, and it's worked. At the moment, he appears to just get flustered, and starts wrestling with the guy on the spot and only calls for the ball half-heartedly.

He did pull it off terrifically one game -- I think it was against Sacramento. Someone threw a lob, the opposition came from the other side to stop Yao from getting it, but Yao caught it and spun just as he touched the ground, getting clear. But it doesn't look like he's going to be able to do that consistently. So why not just do it the easy way?
A big part of fronting defense lies on the defender that's supposed to come from the weakside to help out when a lob happened. So with the NBA producing so many long and athletic defenders, it is not easy to lob a pass when the weakside defender is less than 5 feet away, which was usually the case since one defender can cover up so much ground. If a lob pass is forced in that situation, it'll put Yao in a vulnerable position even if he catches it since the weakside defender is now double-teaming Yao and any body movements by Yao might caused an offensive foul or a travelling call.

I supposed a triangle offense is perfect for this team, but too bad the Rox don't have the personnel on their coaching staff.
 

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MightyReds2020 said:
A big part of fronting defense lies on the defender that's supposed to come from the weakside to help out when a lob happened. So with the NBA producing so many long and athletic defenders, it is not easy to lob a pass when the weakside defender is less than 5 feet away, which was usually the case since one defender can cover up so much ground. If a lob pass is forced in that situation, it'll put Yao in a vulnerable position even if he catches it since the weakside defender is now double-teaming Yao and any body movements by Yao might caused an offensive foul or a travelling call.
No one else has had much problem with it before, though. I hate to bring up the Rik Smits comparison, but he's the only other good center who had trouble when fronted, but he was weak and passive and had horrible hands.
 
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