The Toronto Rock offense has been one of the most unselfish units in the league to date. In five-on-five scenarios, 55.0% of their shots have been off-the-catch; only Colorado (62.3%) and Georgia (57.0%) have taken a higher share of their shots off-the-catch.
However, the Rock have struggled to bury what should be some of the highest percentage shots on the floor, shooting 11.9% on off-ball actions (eighth in NLL). There’s reason to believe those numbers will improve; the quality of shots they’re taking is too high for this trend to continue.
Last week against Buffalo, the Rock shot 4-for-25 (16.0%) on off-ball actions – still slightly below the NLL average (16.6%), but much better than their 0-for-13 outing at Buffalo early in December. They’re not settling for the first shot; they’re working for the best shot. Rob Hellyer sets an off-ball screen for Tom Schreiber here, but Schreiber isn’t in a high percentage area. So Hellyer rolls to the cage, and Schreiber puts a touch pass on Hellyer’s ear as two defenders close out to Schreiber.
Strong, decisive cuts and rolls to the rim caused the Buffalo defense to collapse. Even though the Rock’s roll men have shot a league-worst 7.7%, they’re driving with enough confidence to draw the defense inward. Brett Hickey baits Schreiber’s man toward the net, springing Captain America free for a stepdown shot.
The Rock’s righties have been able to create those types of shots on command. Most of their two-man games have been pick-and-pops to space. The defense doubles the ball in the corner, leaving the picker with time, room and a decent angle.
The Rock are building on those pick-and-pop concepts, especially on the strong side of the floor. The Bandits think this next action is a pick-and-pop between Adam Jones and Stephan Leblanc, although in reality Leblanc’s pick is a preamble to Reid Reinholdt’s pick. The on-ball defender passes off Jones to the low defender while scurrying out towards Leblanc, then – wham! – he’s clobbered by Reinholdt, who rolls to the doorstep.
At this point in the season, it’s too early to write off the Rock’s roll men as the worst unit in the league; the film shows that they have the potential to finish on the opposite end of the standings. Give it time, and these quality looks will lead to goals.
Creating these shots is the tough part; it’s more likely that the Rock begin to bury them than a stagnant offense settling for isolation looks will begin to find these shots out of thin air. That the Rock have been able to pass out of double-team traps is the best sign for the future. There’s nobody better passing out of that low corner double-team than Schreiber. He can find a popping teammate, or thread a skip pass to a left-handed teammate. You won’t get many better opportunities – especially against the Saskatchewan Rush defense – than this Reinholdt shot.
On Saturday the Rock visit the Vancouver Stealth, who have allowed a league-high 33.3% shooting to pick-and-roll roll men. Toronto’s shooters may finally start finishing the high quality looks they’ve been producing all season.