Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Possible Solution to The Horford Treatment

From Jason Walker at Peachtree Hoops, Al Horford wants to eliminate the disqualification:
"I'd eliminate fouling out. You'd have to have some sort of penalty, because otherwise the game would become too aggressive; you don't want guys fouling whenever they want. I don't know if you make every foul after six worth two free throws and the fouled team gets the ball, but we could come up with something. Maybe you have a penalty box like in hockey. Or you get more free throws after a certain number of fouls. But it's crazy that a team is unable to play its best players the entire game if that's what the coach wants to do."
After a fashion, Larry Drew has already eliminated fouling out. As Walker aptly points out, there have been consequences to the ad hoc solution Drew and his predecessor favored:
Even in his earlier years, you could see where the early foul trouble was impacting Horford's play. His initially aggressive style of defensive play was visibly toned down in order to avoid so-called "foul trouble". Nobody wants to miss, as Horford did this past spring, up to (22) minutes of game time due to a couple of perhaps touchy fouls or have his playing time determined by too quick a whistle.

So the adjustment for players who don't want to miss the entire first half with foul trouble is to simply over-adjust to the fear of not fouling. Now you have players who aren't thinking about defending as earnestly as possible, but rather calculating how they can stay on the floor. It's not fault, it's nature, and clearly, even at this stage in his career, the notion of fouling out still haunts Horford and clearly he feels this is impeding how much he plays.

This isn't some hack out there who can't control himself either, this is a guy who averaged 2.9 fouls per 40 minutes, well below the 4.2 fouls per 40 average among NBA centers playing more than 20 minutes per game. Horford simply shouldn't be worrying about such things, but he has to because of the overly cautious approach his head coaches have taken in this regard.
Speaking of Larry Drew's predecessor, Mike Woodson is apparently a candidate to become Mike D'Antoni's defensive coordinator in New York. If hired, expect one (and only one) clearly motivated defensive strategy designed to mitigate the glaring weaknesses of individual defenders which, in turn, creates other glaring defensive weaknesses which good teams can easily and repeatedly exploit. Which isn't to say that Woodson couldn't get the Knicks to become a slightly above average defensive team. Nor that such an achievement wouldn't hold significant value for the Knicks.

Also expect me to take another run at getting "The D'Antoni/Woodson Nexus" to catch on. Said nexus being the point where, regardless of pace, a coach demonstrates a significant preference for his team missing a shot rather than turning the ball over.

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