Dec 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
The Signature Series takes a look at a play that’s largely unique to one team. Here’s San Antonio’s “Hammer” set.
The San Antonio Spurs don’t get enough credit for keeping up with the times. Although the end result is often the same as it has always been – Tim Duncan facing up and banking a shot home, Tony Parker shooting floaters in the lane, Manu Ginobili doing Manu Ginobili things – the means of transportation has changed over the years.
San Antonio once walked the ball up the floor, but for the last three seasons, they’ve been a top-10 team in the league in pace.
During that time, San Antonio has relied more on quick-hitting plays in the halfcourt than elaborate sets. Rarely will you see Duncan holding the ball and surveying for long periods of time like he used to. San Antonio got slower, but now they move quicker.
A prime example of how the Spurs have blended their patented half court execution and need for speed is the “Hammer” set they’ve used with great success.
Although there are a few different variations of it, here’s a good look at the basic set by Dan Murphy at FastModel Sports:
The Spurs are masters of movement and misdirection, and the initial action here on the left is nothing much more than that. The real purpose of this set is simple: create an open corner three-point attempt for a shooter.
The Spurs have been able to do just that with frightening regularity. San Antonio was third in the NBA in corner threes last year, and Danny Green was second in the entire league in made shots from that area.
Check out how clean some of these three-point looks deviating from the different Hammer sets are:
As you can see above, all it takes is for a defender to turn their head or help in the paint on the baseline drive. If that happens, they’re getting caught with a flare screen and giving up one of the most desired shots in basketball to a deadly shooter.
There are more physical teams in the league. There are teams that jump higher. But if you want to try and find an offense that’s more mentally taxing on their opponents than San Antonio’s? Good luck.
We need a way for SportVU to track how often players scream "and one" when no foul is called.—
Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) December 18, 2013
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Warriors 104, Pelicans 93: Look at the box score and you see Stephen Curry with 28 points, or David Lee with 21 points and 17 boards, and you’ll miss how much the return of Andre Iguodala meant to the Warriors. He had just two points but with him back in the lineup the Warriors moved the ball better on offense, while on the other end of the court held the Pelicans to 37.5 percent shooting. It was an easy win, and the Warriors needed that. Ryan Anderson had 21 for New Orleans.
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