The Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies are similar teams. Both are defense first teams, reliant on strong play from elite interior defenders – Roy Hibbert and Marc Gasol. They both have power forwards that stray from the new mold of “stretch fours,” but can score on the inside – David West and Zach Randolph. They both have athletic point guards who can score – George Hill and Mike Conley. The real similarity, however, is that they both have very limited ceilings.
Though great defense will keep you in any game or series, the NBA landscape has shifted. With the speed and athleticism of many teams, like each respective conference champion, these teams cannot enter the ball into and score from the post without a more viable threat on the perimeter. The league’s analytics have acknowledged that the three-point shot is too valuable to ignore to the extent that these teams do. Offenses, like that of the Houston Rockets, that rely on penetration and kick-outs can spread the floor and earn better shots.
The Pacers and Grizzlies limit their offensive success in many ways, but the most notable is in the pick and roll. When teams run the pick and roll with a screener who is a perimeter threat, the options are much more plentiful. Defenses can too easily collapse the lane and negate penetration when the bigs are not perimeter threats. This concept, however, extends beyond the pick and roll. The NBA is currently a game that relies on three-point shooting and pure athleticism. Toughness is a valuable skill, but toughness does not win championships.
If these teams can acquire players that can extend the floor and shoot threes – while still defending a two, three or four – they will be much more explosive and successful offensively.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.