Using Arizona I wanted to show you how we create basketball scouting reports using Synergy Sports Technology. The analytics, video analysis, from examining what teams with similar styles of ours have done vs. the same opponent, and experience from past games vs. an opponent are combined to form a game plan. For all of our games we follow this process to develop our basketball scouting report.
The game plan is not purely based on any one of those things. Regardless of what the numbers say, or the ideas that come up from the video analysis, we also want to stay true to our system. For example, if a common opponent had success playing zone, and we don’t play zone defense, we won’t install a zone just for this game. The same is true for the Synergy numbers. If the numbers say that a player is points per possession worse, being forced middle, but we force baseline, then we have to decide if changing will mess us up more than help us.
In our basketball program we have to prioritize these three basketball scouting report things:
- How are we defending ball screen?
- Where are we forcing the ball in isolation?
- How are we defending a post up?
Most of how we defend screens and cuts that make up offensive actions are determined by what we do all year. Since the start of the season if we have defended cross screens by going under then we don’t have to teach how we are defending cross screen to get ready for a team that runs cross screens. We just have to review it and decide what happens if we screw up and the ball goes in the post off the cross screen.
We are a paperless program. There is no print out of our players. We post the scouting report video clips to our players in a private Facebook group. Instead of in one long clip, they are usually posted in small clips to focus their attention on each clip. We will post information on specific players to the group as well. The main way we get players to learn what we are doing is in practice. We talk about personnel and concepts, and then we practice them live in 3-on-3, 4-on-4, or 5-on-5 situations. We also ask questions in practice, “Where are we forcing Trier in isolation.” I have found questioning and answering to be the most effective method to teach, and check for understanding.
This may be blasphemous based on the stereotypes of what coaches are supposed to do, but we do not meet as a team to do scouting reports. I am not saying it is wrong to meet. My experiences and feedback from players is that those meetings are boring and unproductive for our players. Most of my research on active learning time and classroom management have taught me that the sitting and lecture method is one of the worst teaching and learning methodologies. It is no different from basketball scouting reports, even though I may think they are more engaged because the topic is basketball, instead of, the research suggests the results are the same.
I prefer covering things in practice, on the court, and creating an individual responsibility for our players to learn and be accountable to their teammates to know what they are doing in the scouting report. Another reason I don’t do scouting report meetings is because I value my players, and my, time. My players have limited time to succeed as student-athletes and I want to maximize the effectiveness of every minute I take from them. Being able to read and watch scouting reports on their phones helps a player maximize their time.
Synergy Personnel Report
We don’t treat every player equally. We focus on the key players. Honestly, some players in the scouting report will only have one line. For your reference, a Rondo is non-shooter, a Wade is an average shooter, and a Korver is a max range shooter.
This information below is what we generate for the coaching staff. Keep in mind it was written as if we were going to play them with our system. When we present information to players we usually only focus on two or three key points beyond whether they are a Rondo, Wade or Korver, and where we force them in isolation. Remember also these personnel profiles are opinions based on Synergy Statistics, video analysis and our philosophy.
Deandre Ayton (#13) — WADE / KORVER (Spot Up, Pick & Pop)
- Offensively, Ayton plays out of both the left and the right blocks. When he is on the left block it would be best to lean on him to force him to dribble into the middle of the paint by forcing him to turn his left shoulder. If he tries an off-balanced right handed hook, he is only creating 0.615 PPP, as opposed to when he turns his right shoulder (1.087 PPP) and has a lot more options (i.e., Drop Step, Jump Shot, etc.).
- When he plays out of the right block, Ayton will look to play a lot more face up and in doing so he will look to take the early jumper. Though he can hit them at a decent clip, giving him that as opposed to letting him dribble towards the basket is a much better bet.
- He is an extremely difficult cover in the post because of his size, and touch around the rim. Buffalo needs to do an incredible job at fronting the post, and denying by 3/4-ing him every time. Do not let him dictate where he wants to get to in the post.
- He is an incredible passer against a double team as well; his passes from a double lead to 1.304 PPP → He will mostly look to pass to Spot Up shooters as opposed to cutters.
- Emphasis needs to be on denying post entry at all times.
- Ayton is one of the best finishers in the league off of basket cuts (including open under). Bigs need to do a good job at getting a body on him any time he is trying to cut to into the paint. Cannot let him dictate where he wants to go, especially down low.
- He will especially cut a lot to the basket against any zone. Need to be aware of the lob above the defender from a back screen.
- Watch for flash cuts in the middle; he will look to turn and take a jumper right away. Should bluff the contest, and make sure to retreat if he tries to blow by with a dribble.
Pick and Roll Roll Man:
- When Ayton goes to screen, he is mostly looking to pop – in doing so, he will immediately take a catch and shoot jumper (0.933 PPP). Need to sprint out at him and ensure you have a hand in his face, ready to defend the jump shot. He has only gone to the basket 3 times this year off of Pick & Pop.
Offensive Rebounds (Put Backs):
- Ayton is a tremendous offensive rebounder; he averages almost 2.5/G. When he gets the ball, he is going directly back up again, and he is converting 1.481 PPP off of misses. There needs to be a constant emphasis on boxing out Ayton, and keeping him away from the paint.
- Ayton can be exposed for his low-post defense at times. Players will benefit from playing out of the right block and dribbling into him towards their right shoulder. Players like Welch from UCLA and Dickerson from Washington had success dribbling in, getting good position and either hitting a fadeaway jump shot, or a left handed hook.
- Ayton also has some trouble defending the P&R RM; players are able to pop and immediately drive by him (1.3 PPP); he isn’t as aggressive and have the lateral quickness to stop the drive. Players can also take a catch & shoot jump shot right away against Ayton (0.913 PPP).
Allonzo Trier (#35) — WADE
- Trier will mostly fill the left wing in transition. When he does, he is looking to shoot a 3, in which he is making them at a good rate aFG (52.5%) — need to find him in transition at all times and not give him an open look.
- As the primary ball handler, Trier will not look to pass as often as he will try to take it in and score with his right hand. He will not pull back for a 3 in transition, he will try to get right in the paint and draw contact (17.8 FTr%).
- Average perimeter shooter (1.04 PPP), he is much better off the dribble (1.304 PPP), but you should play up on him to force him to drive RIGHT.
- In forcing him right, we want to make sure that we force him to take a pull up jumper, that would be a win on defense as opposed to give driving to the basket (0.625 vs. 1.429).
- He is also more turnover prone driving right, than any other direction (22.7%)
- Very dangerous in this offensive set. Offensively, he will look to dribble off the pick and take a dribble jumper – he is superb at converting these (1.279 PPP); again, he is much better off the dribble shooting the ball.
- It would be wise to play tight and Korver him (tight closeout), forcing him to try and take it to the basket instead.
- Trier, however, will pass just as often as he does try to create his own shot. Defenders need to be aware that Trier will be looking to dish to a spot up shooter on the perimeter if he is holding onto the ball in P&R, or the roll man (mostly Ayton).
- Trier is mostly looking to drive in isolation. If so, it would be best to force him LEFT in isolation (greater turnover rate, less PPP).
- Trier is an effective defender on the drive. He is excellent at forcing opponents into tough shots like a contested 2, and he is still a great defender at the basket. Trier gives up 1.459 PPP off of catch & shoot, as opposed to his 0.4 PPP off of drives.
Dusan Ristic (#14) — KORVER
- Ristic will play out of both blocks, but when he on the left block, he will look for a hook shot (1.4 PPP); need to be able to defend it. He will do a hitch fake right and go back to the left for a hook shot. Constantly deny post entry from the left block.
- From the right block, he will dribble in towards his left shoulder. I would recommend doubling Ristic on the RIGHT block → 0.75 PPP, 12.5% TOr
- He will not face up at all in the post, so do your work early, 3/4-ing him, and making sure he does not get inside position on you.
- Unlike Ayton, Ristic barely passes when he gets post touches. Defenders can gamble on the double team with him more often.
- Ristic will make a lot of flash cuts in the middle of the zone, and he will try a hook shot from the middle of the paint, but he is not the best at making them (0.814 PPP). Bluff to contest the shot, but make sure you’re in a position to stop his drive attempt, and cause a charge.
- He will also make a lot of basket cuts in which players like Trier and Jackson-Cartwright will force his defender to pick them up off the dribble, and he will be there ready for the dump off.
- Will split between rolling and popping – when he pops, he is only looking to shoot right away. He will not drive. Make sure you get out to contest the shot right away.
- Decent shooter from the perimeter for someone his size (0.905 PPP), but he does not drive in spot up situations, so make sure, like against him in Pick & Pop, that you are contesting early because he will shoot it in these limited situations.
- Poor pick & pop defender; need to attack this at any time → Ristic is very slow to contest and will give up 1.545 PPP on the pick & pop. Also, players can slip the pick against him, and proceed to take it to the basket.
- Similar to playing against Trier, any time you are a big and can shoot the ball, do so in any spot up position when you are guarded by Ristic. He i giving up 1.185 PPP on catch & shoot; do not try to take him to the basket too much with he and Ayton on the court.
Rawle Alkins (#1) — KORVER / RONDO
- Alkins is an average shooter from the perimeter (0.955 PPP) – however, he is not to be left open, because it would be better to force him to drive LEFT. Play Alkins tight on the perimeter, and force him to drive left because he is extremely turnover prone (35.3 TO%) and he is only a decent finisher at the basket if you can stay in front of him at all times.
- Need to be aware of Alkins in transition as if he is the ball handler, he will mostly look to score, and in doing so, he will not hesitate to pull up for a 3.
- This is also the case from the wings; Alkins will look for the open 3 in transition, in hopes that his defender will have to step in to help against Ayton or Ristic. Must find him and contest his shot.
- Not a good player in this offensive set; he will mostly look to pass to the roll man out of this set; defenders need to be aware of that.
- Offensively, he will dribble off the pick and look to take it to the basket. Sag off of him, and force him to take a dribble jumper (0.333 PPP vs. 1.111 PPP).
- He goes after it and gets offensive boards very efficiently for his size and opportunity; need to do a good job at getting a body on him and T-ing him up as soon as a shot goes up. Cannot let him go in for easy second chance points.
- Similar to Trier; in Spot Up situations, shoot on Alkins at all times. He is giving up 1.263 PPP on catch & shoot – there is no need to drive on him unless from straight on. Then, Alkins gives up 2.25 PPP on straight drives to the basket.
- Other than that specific situation, do not try to drive if you’re open to shoot.
- He is an excellent defender of P&R BH — one thing to try to do against him is go away from the pick and take it to the basket. He gets a bit lost in trying to recover away from the pick (1.5 PPP).
Parker Jackson-Cartwright (#11) — KORVER / RONDO (P&R BH)
- Excellent perimeter shooter; one of the best on their team. Cannot sag off of him at all. Need to always contest and have a hand up against him (he’s smaller, make sure to have a tight close out).
- Try to force him RIGHT on the drive (more turnover prone; similar offensive numbers) – in doing so, once inside the 3-point line, sag off a bit to force him to take a dribble jumper (0.5 PPP) as opposed to getting to the basket (1.5 PPP, 25% FTr)
- He is the primary ball handler in transition, and he will look to facilitate just as much as he will look to score. He is extremely turnover prone in transition (34.7% TOr) so we need to pressure him at all times, and make him feel uncomfortable.
- Be aware that he might try to shoot a pull up 3 in transition if you are playing off of him; just another reminder to never sag off of him and play him tight until he is inside the 3-point arc.
- He will mostly look to pass; and when he does, he is looking for the spot up or the roll man; weakside defenders need to be aware of this. Need to disrupt passing lanes any time he gets a screen.
- Offensively, he will dribble off the pick and immediately look to take a dribble jumper from outside 3. Again, anytime he is behind the arc, defenders need to be contesting his shot at all times.
- Defensively, he is good at guarding the P&R BH – one thing you need to do is take it to the basket at all times against him as you dribble off the screen – NEVER dribble away from the pick if the ball handler is looking to score (0.375 PPP).
- Terrible Spot Up defender; can shoot on him at any time, and can drive any time from the perimeter. Once you have him as a matchup, do not hesitate to attack or shoot depending on your strengths.
Dylan Smith (#3) — KORVER
- Decent perimeter shooter; need to play him like a Korver and have a tight closeout.
- In doing so, need to force him to drive LEFT (0.4 PPP, 20% TOr); make sure though to not leave him open at all on the perimeter as he can knock down open looks.
- Play him like a Korver in this offensive set as well; he will look to take dribble jumpers – do not allow it. Play tight against him at all times to force him to get to the basket where he is not a good finisher (0.571 PPP) and he does not get fouled often.
- In transition, his main job is to run to the wings and shoot 3s. Cannot allow him to get open for a second in transition; need to make sure people are doing a good job calling out “Shooter” when is on the court and we have a hand in his face at all times.
- He is an average defender guarding perimeter shots; anytime he is on the court, take advantage of his poor defense by going to the basket every time. He gives up 1.5 PPP off of drives, and he will put opponents on the line 42.9% of the time! Drive on him every time.
Brandon Randolph (#5) — KORVER / RONDO (P&R BH)
- Randolph is an average shooter from the perimeter, but he, like Smith, need to be played like a Korver. Cannot leave him open, and need to force him to drive LEFT. He only scores 0.5 PP and he turns the ball over 75% of the time (though low sample size).
- As a ball handler in transition, he will not shoot a 3; only when he is running the wings will he look to shoot a 3. Need to call him out, like Smith, at all times that he is a shooter on the court in transition. Cannot leave him open.
- When Randolph is the ball handler, offensively he will dribble off the pick and look to take a dribble jumper – need to make sure we are playing tight against him at all times and do not sag off of him for a second. He will knock down open looks (1.273 PPP). He will also look to take a runner.
- Randolph is a very good passer, and he especially will pass to the roll man in this set, whether it is Ayton or Ristic. Bigs need to be aware of this and be ready to attack the pick & pop.
- If you can get him into a position to defend the P&R, as a ball handler it is important to drive to the basket on him any time. He gives up 1.667 PPP, and fouls 66.7% of the time. He is very slow at adjusting his hips to quick guards taking him to the basket.
- The same can be said for isolation; make sure to try to take it to the basket on him to get easy points at the basket or at the free throw line.
Emmanuel Akot (#24) — KORVER
- Excellent spot up shooter; play him tight like a Korver! Cannot let him get open and get their team easy buckets.
- When forcing him to drive, make sure to force him RIGHT; he hasn’t scored a single point this season driving right and has turned the ball over 50% of the time.
- Excellent perimeter defender; he is very long for a wing at 6’7, so it is not in the team’s best interest to try to shoot or drive against him; look for a lot better matchups on the court – this one could be very troublesome to go against.
Ira Lee (#11) — RONDO
- Will mostly pop when he is on the court; not the best perimeter shooter, so nothing to worry too much about, just know for matchup sakes that he will mostly pop when on the court.
- Does not have a perimeter shot to him at all. No need to play aggressively on him in closeouts. Just keep him in front of you.
- Good defender from the perimeter, but you can still attack him driving right (1.5 PPP). Do not look for a pull up jumper, look to get to the basket when driving against Lee.
Keanu Pinder (#25) — WADE
- Keanu will only make basket cuts in which he is a good finisher and good at drawing contact at the rim. Need to make sure that we play aggressively against him and do not let him get open in the paint from his basket cuts.
- He is very athletic, so when they give it to Ayton he will go out to the perimeter and he will then run in from the side for an easy basket. Need to be able to see that coming and react accordingly.
- Will only try a hook shot from the left block – he has nothing else to his post game.
- Excellent defender along the perimeter in spot up situations; he’s very athletic and long and can get out to disrupt your shot. He sometimes will fly by in an attempt to block, so pump fake and take it to the basket every time.
Alex Barcello (#23) — KORVER
- He is only out there to space the floor – treat him like a Korver and force him to drive LEFT.
- In P&R BH, against Alex, go away from the pick and take it to the basket. Similar to Alkins.
Jackson-Cartwright (#0), Smith (#3), Randolph (#5), Akot (#24), Barcello (#23)
Players to Foul:
Akot (#24 – 45%), Lee (#11 – 56.5%), Pinder (#25 – 61.8%), Alkins (#1 – 71.4%)
A big thanks to Daniel Iannetta for his Synergy analysis work for this post.
Daniel worked with me this season and is nearing the completion of his Masters in Applied Human Performance at the University of Windsor. His research mainly explores the use of sports statistics and data analytics in the field of many different sports, including basketball, soccer and football. He also spent the last year with the Lancer Men’s Basketball team as their Head of Statistics & Analytics where he developed detailed scouting reports, and game analysis utilizing Synergy Sports Tech, as well as a program that he and his advisor, Dr. Kevin Milne created using C++ programming. For updates on sport statistics research and other sport-related topics, follow Daniel’s twitter @danieliannetta