Our newest table on the site breaks down which sides of the floor are most efficient. The Rush’s lefties (23.4 points per 100 possessions) and Knighthawks’ righties (25.5) have been dominating opponents. The Black Wolves’ righties are producing points at an insanely efficient rate (19.7 points per 100 possessions), despite having dressed only two of them (Shawn Evans and Kevin Crowley) last weekend. There’s only one team, however, with both sides producing above the NLL average efficiency: the Colorado Mammoth.
IL Indoor’s Marisa Ingemi broke down the many contributors –several of which are new – in Colorado this season. After losing some of their leading scorers over the past couple offseasons, the Mammoth have found an unbalanced identity.
Unlike the Knighthawks, who have picked to create shots for the ball-handler, the Mammoth’s picks aim to turn the ball-handler into a playmaker. The Mammoth have shot 23.8% off passes from pick-and-roll operators (third in NLL). Most of the picks aren’t true up picks or down picks; they’re what Teddy Jenner refers to as “back picks,” pushing the on-ball defender as wide as possible. When the ball-handler gets to the middle of the floor, the defense collapses – opening up both shooters and shooting lanes.
That pick (plus the extra hug Jeremy Noble gave to his defender’s stick) forces a third defender to slide to stop Jacob Ruest. It’s a reactionary, break-in-case-of-emergency-glass slide. The backside defenders behind him aren’t ready to rotate and help the helper, leaving Ryan Benesch with a whole lot of room to step into.
Defenses often panic and stray from their gameplan when the ball-handler gets to a high percentage shooting area. Everyone is suddenly focused on stopping the immediate threat. Watch Ruest get to the middle of the floor against Vancouver (again, thanks to a pick from Noble). He draws that same third defender from across the floor, but this time Noble is rolling to the rim. With Ruest’s original defender out of the play, Noble’s man tries to split two. Ruest and Noble stretch him too thin, opening up the roll.
Even when you play all the picks perfectly, there are enough wrinkles and surprises to open up shooters. This initial Benesch-Eli McLaughlin pick is fought through by the Swarm defense. Then a Noble-Ruest action is switched seamlessly. But watch McLaughlin, still rolling in a “Nations” concept! He catches a screen from Zack Greer on his way to the cage, and throws down this alley-oop from Noble.
Off-ball actions (i.e. spot ups, cuts, off-ball screens) have accounted for nine of the Mammoth’s 17 settled goals – a bigger chunk of offense than any team besides the Rush and the Bandits. Colorado has continuously found those open shooters through crafty pickers and heads-up pick-and-roll ball-handlers. If the Mammoth are to stay atop the leaderboard in settled offense (currently shooting 21.0% in five-on-five scenarios, second in NLL), it will be due to the balance of playmakers they have on both sides of the floor.