Every year late in the summer, the Rochester Rattlers find a new secondary form of offense to complement Jordan Wolf. Last year it was Jesse King and Ty Thompson operating two-man games on the left-handed side. Two years ago, it was inverting Kevin Rice and flexing Jordan Wolf out to the wing. In 2014, it was the Big Boy Line of Dave Lawson, Justin Turri and John Ranagan. While The Forest has largely remained intact on the defensive end, the offensive end has experienced a ton of turnover.
Head coach Tim Soudan has been notorious for his willingness to roll the dice on Wall Street guys whose MLL careers rarely last longer than two or three years. The Rattlers proximity to Canada makes them a prime candidate to dress talented-but-preoccupied NLL stars. It’s a high-risk, high-reward roster building strategy that almost always delivers that high-reward because of the culture that Soudan has created.
Jordan MacIntosh has been one of the constants in that culture. As a picker for Jordan Wolf, MacIntosh comprises one half of the league’s single most dangerous action. His playmaking ability allows him to do so much more, and alongside some of his new teammates, that’s exactly what MacIntosh has done in 2017.
While Wolf loves to run razor picks at X, MacIntosh might be at his best on the wing. He can be the picker or the ball-carrier in a two-man game – and so can rookie Zed Williams (7G, 2A) and second-year Rattler Dhane Smith (3G, 4A).
Smith is one of the best lacrosse players on the planet; he was the 2016 NLL MVP after scoring 72 goals and dishing out 65 assists. When he’s carrying, you need to hedge to prevent him from getting topside. How can you hedge and keep tabs on the elusive MacIntosh?
The same rules apply for Zed Williams. He’s able to get to the cage on command, but his head is always up. Jump the pick, and Williams will find a rolling MacIntosh.
These aren’t your typical pick-and-rolls run by players with basketball backgrounds; these are legitimate two-man games. Some picks are meant to spring shooters like Connor Buczek free or to take an extra defender out of the slide package. These Rattlers actions resemble box lacrosse. They’ll pick and re-pick and unless you send an extra defender to the ball-side, then they’ll score.
With MacIntosh in the lineup, the Rattlers are scoring on 44.7% of their pick-and-roll possessions (league average is 35.4%). His field awareness makes him one of the best pickers in the league; his footwork makes him equally dangerous as the dodger. Watch him exploit his new defender after the Cannons switch the initial pick. He combines change-of-direction and hesitation for a World Star-worthy, ankle-breaking move.
Since the start of 2015, MacIntosh has shot 36.2% off the dodge. Among players who have taken at least 25 shots off the dodge, only Jordan Wolf (42.4%), Josh Byrne (42.3%) and Wes Berg (40.0%) have shot better than that off the dodge.
MacIntosh has taken his inside game to the next level this season. He’s finishing 41.2% off the catch, better than any Rattler besides Jeremy Boltus (43.2%). Williams, Smith and the mismatches these three Rattlers have faced are largely responsible for that uptick. Seriously, these actions are defended with two short-sticks far too often. Can you blame an offensive midfielder for panicking about the imminent doom that is a Williams-MacIntosh two-man game, preparing to stop it, and leaving the defense susceptible to the slip?
MacIntosh, Williams and Smith are all on the same page, and the results are wonderful. Hopefully Jordan Wolf is healthy (he left Sunday’s game in the third quarter and did not return). With Wolf and this arsenal of right-handed pick-and-roll partners, the Rattlers could boast one of the league’s best offenses down the stretch.