One more note on Pekovic’s recent play. On Thursday, Zach wrote this:
One of the most impressive and basic things you see Pek do each time down the floor is he runs as deep into the key as he can, seals the defender to his back and calls for the ball. Many times over the last few games, we’ve seen Ricky Rubio recognize this development, dump the ball into Pek and get a great scoring opportunity for Minnesota. It’s what you teach big men to do at a young age and Pek certainly attempts to comply with such teachings.
My thoughts exactly–and I’d even add that Pek also does this when diving to the hoop off a pick-and-roll, even when he doesn’t get the ball. (On one fourth quarter play against the Nets, he set a screen for Rubio, recognized that the Nets had switched and immediately bulled his away past Jordan Farmar to the hoop. Meanwhile, Rubio had kicked the ball to Love outside. Love missed his three but because Pekovic was able to take advantage of the mismatch and put back the miss.) As Zach alluded to, when Pekovic dives to the hoop and seals his defender–be it off of pick and roll or in transition–Rubio delivers him the ball in perfect rhythm. All that is left to do is pivot and lay the ball in; the seal, the pass, the pivot and the shot seem to occur as one fluid motion.
A few people have raised the idea that, because of Rubio’s role in Pek’s resurgence, it behooves Adelman to play the two of them together as much as possible. And this may be so, but I’d offer that crucial differences between how Pek was deployed this year and last play just as large a part. Pekovic’s great skills, as we’ve noted, are instincts without the ball, his soft touch around the rim and his obvious, raw, fleshy physical force. Post moves and ball-handling, not so much. And yet in the triangle, as administered by Kurt Rambis, Pekovic was asked to use just those skills. He generally caught the ball in the block, eight or so feet from the basket, forced to pound the ball and facilitate the offense; not exactly playing to his strengths there. Given a more appropriate context, both Luke Ridnour and Kevin Love have recently been able to deliver Pek the ball in good scoring position.
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Speaking of Ricky Rubio, if you didn’t get the chance to see last night’s game, you missed some real gems. This one is a must-see; the aspect ratio is weird but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Enjoy:
The amazing thing about this is that the ridiculous around-the-body dribble was clearly both improvised and fully necessitated by the play. Do you see how Farmar bites on the feigned behind-the-back pass? And how that little lean opens up a nice little lane into the corner for Wes to slide into?