Barnes-VanVleet combo adding interesting wrinkle to Raptors offence

On the latest episode of "Strictly Hoops," C.J. Miles and Amit Mann discuss why the Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet pick-and-roll combination is a great source for easy offence. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast or watch on YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: The Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes pick and roll has been pretty good so far during this, like, new identity stretch for the Raptors. Last night, I think damn near every single bucket that Scottie got was off a Fred VanVleet pass. And this is a case where, like, OK, so a team is going to look at that footage, and they're going to say, OK, we've got to-- you know, we've got to nullify that advantage, right?

But then the reason why you can't play, like, a deep drop, or a drop, really, against that pick and roll is that you still got Fred as a shooter. And so with Scottie setting good screens, the guard, or the person guarding Fred, can't get over the screen, because the screen is set well, or maybe you're doing, like, the screen higher. Now Fred has a pull-up jumper from 3 or from 2-point range. And now-- or maybe he's going to be going one-on-one against the big.

And it's an interesting combination. It's the reason why we love the Fred-and-Pascal pick and roll, is, it puts teams in a bind with the amount of ways that they can get you. And it's going to be up to two pretty smart players to just kind of snuff that out game by game. But you have options with it.

And obviously, teams-- if you're looking at, you know, what a team's going to want to do with something like this, they're going to want to get, you know, Fred going to the basket, trying to convert over big bodies. Or they're going to challenge Scottie Barnes to hit, like, pull-up shots from 2-point range or 3 or something like that.

But, I mean, Scottie, if he's trusting himself-- and he hasn't-- he wasn't doing it for a few games. But if he's trusting his mid-range jumper-- and I think he should-- I mean, you're going to be able to bend defenses with that. You're going to occupy them, and then you're going to be able to-- Scottie's going to be able to do his thing, like he did last night.

CJ MILES: Yeah, he creates such a-- so the other advantage you have of a mobile five like that is that he-- the way we can get in and out of screens is, I can flip them. Like, I got enough-- my feet are good enough to change, if you try to change the way you're guarding it. Or I can get out in the roll fast, hard downhill. I can pop, catch. You got to close out. I can drive the guy. Can't just double the point guard, 'cause I can make an open shot.

You know, I create-- pretty much every option out of a pick and roll, you created with him and Pascal. Pascal is even more so because Pascal can-- makes the 3 at a higher clip. So like, now that's an even bigger dynamic with that with him.

But I think, as far as Scottie, all his skills-- or his greater skills-- he has a lot. His greater skills, as a playmaker and playing downhill, are brought to light in the pick and roll because he gets to catch the ball. Movement, like we talked about earlier. There's space. I'm getting out, rolling hard, or popping to the mid-range. And now I got, you know, just the reaction. I don't have to, like, stand there and, like, probe.


CJ MILES: I'm open-- I shoot. I'm not-- I drive it. He's open-- I pass it. Like, it puts me in a position of movement.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. I've seen some of those stats earlier. His average dribbles per touch during the last three games is at 1.49. But on the season, it's 2.63. And similar with Fred, average dribbles per touch-- 3.96 for the season, 3.36 for-- during this last three-game stretch. So both those players-- and I mean, those are your two playmakers, right? They're getting off the ball early, and they're keeping it moving.

And as we talk about, you know, how do you make good offensive decisions, it is about getting everyone involved, keeping the ball moving. And really, everyone-- like, no one's holding the ball very much. And if they are, then it's because they have an advantage, and they're going to be able to cook somebody. But in the end, they're just getting things moving so much faster. And the pace and the tempo of their offense is dramatically improved.

And I don't think that's going to change. If they're playing the Bucks, the Knicks, whoever, these are just things that you're doing with your offense, right? And you just keep on, you know, running your sets, running your next actions, and just finding your advantage. And you're relying on Scottie and Fred to make those decisions. And then guess what? If there's 10 seconds left on the shot clock, and you don't know where to go, there's Pascal Siakam, who's capable of putting up 40 on any given night. So--

CJ MILES: Yeah, it can't change when you play [INAUDIBLE]. That's the thing. Like, it can't. That's one of the things that it has to become. It has to become, this is how we play.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, that's true. Yeah.

CJ MILES: And I'm-- we're good enough against any type of defense to play this way, and-- which is true because of the type of guys, the caliber of guys you have in these actions. It's not-- we're going to match up evenly some nights. But for the most part, I'm going to be greater than my match-up in this situation.

It's so much harder to guard guys on the move. Like, defense can't get set in shells. You can't have double teams ready, unless you jump out on a handoff. And that puts you in a bad spot, defensively, anyway. Even with shooters and screeners, it creates havoc, makes people communicate. And defenses don't like to communicate is what you hear everybody preaching about the whole time. Talk to each other. Talk to each other. So you know this is a problem. Attack it.