Through nine games last summer, the New York Lizards had created one goal on six shots via pick-and-rolls at X. In their last five games the Lizards unlocked a brand new element of their offense. They turned their best dodger, Rob Pannell, into a pick-and-roll operator; over those five weeks, the Lizards shot 7-for-20 (35.0%) on looks created by actions they refused to run for more than half the season.
The spacing on these looks is borderline unfair. Defenses were forced to play four-on-four above the cage against: (1) Paul Rabil at the top of the arc, (2) Matt Gibson on the crease, (3) Dave Lawson on the left-hand wing and (4) Drew Westervelt on the right-hand wing.
Send a third man to the pick-and-roll and Pannell will find the cutter with ease. He had six assists from pick-and-rolls at X last summer, and one hockey assist. That hockey assist came after a pick with Rabil drew a switch and the Boston Cannons defense tried to get back on their matchups. As soon as the initial switch was drawn, the Cannons were in a constant scramble.
Rabil buried five goals generated by these types of pick-and-rolls. One was a 2-bomb, but most were products of keen backdoor cuts. As soon as his man crashes the crease to smother Gibson, he takes off with a full head of steam.
We’ll see more of these actions in 2017, but we won’t see a couple key pieces. JoJo Marasco — who often served as the picker — was traded to Rochester this winter. Drew Westervelt, who has his own gravitational pull thanks to his stretch shooting reputation, is not on the 25-man roster for this summer.
Much of the Lizards’ decision regarding who to use as the picker depends on who the defense decides to short-stick. These pick-and-rolls worked better as big-littles; send two poles toward Pannell behind the cage, and the defense may trap him hoping to cause a turnover.
Last year’s most efficient offense looks even better on paper entering 2017, and these pick-and-rolls for Pannell should produce some of their best shots.