The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the least productive benches in the history of basketball, but the Blazers are still in the playoff picture in the Western Conference because of how well head coach Terry Stotts manages his line-ups. Ronnie Price, Will Barton and Meyers Leonard is not a strong offensive trio, but Stotts stacks his rotation so that LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum can help this line-up produce offensively. Aldridge and Batum are two very versatile forwards, and you can see in this play how their skillsets bring an otherwise poor second unit to life.
Portland starts this play in a Horns look, though Meyers Leonard is a couple of steps back from the elbow. Ronnie Price enters the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge at the right elbow and then sprints to the right corner to set a downscreen for Nicolas Batum.
But instead of popping up on Price's downscreen, Batum is going to loop around him. Price slips the screen and runs to the corner. Batum is slightly ahead of him and cuts up the floor once he reaches the charge circle towards the free throw line. Once he reaches the free throw line, Batum begins to curl towards LaMarcus Aldridge, who will hand off the ball to him.
Aldridge has subtly dribbled towards the sideline while Batum was looping, so by the time Batum reaches him, he is able to screen Batum's man with his backside. There is only room on the sidelines for Batum to come and get the ball, which will free him up once he comes off of the screen. Because Aldridge is such a good shooter, Nene is unable to drop down to the baseline to cut off Batum's wide open drive. That means Trevor Booker has to drop down from the free throw line to help. Booker was already sagging of off Leonard a bit, so he quickly slides to the right block to stop the penetration. The problem? You have to help the helper. Ronnie Price's man A.J. Price (no relation) is late getting into position to cut off Meyers Leonard's cut.
This allows Batum to make a nice little shovel pass to a cutting Leonard and Price only complicates things by being late as he commits a foul, giving Leonard a three-point opportunity.
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