How the Bucks are exploiting defenses with unique point guard-to-point guard alley-oop
Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon are forming quite the connection
MILWAUKEE -- Alley-oops are not rare in today's NBA. You can see the play countless times each and every night. However, what is rare is the special alley-oop the Milwaukee Bucks like to run, a point guard-to-point guard set featuring Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon that has become one of their pet plays in recent weeks.
It's a play based on both practice and feel, as Brogdon explained in a relaxed Milwaukee locker room after the team cruised to a 122-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
"It's something me and Delly talk about -- we talk about different ideas every single day, in practice, we watch film together, and then on the court, you know, sometimes things are different, and it's purely a feel thing," Brogdon said. "Things change, and Delly always makes the right read, and I just react to him."
The set is actually pretty simple, but it keeps on working for the Bucks. Let's use the most impressive finish of the bunch -- from the Bucks' win over the Thunder back in December -- as an example to break this thing down.
The action starts with Delly bringing the ball down the right side of the floor, while Thon Maker sets up shop on the strong-side elbow, and Brogdon trails up the middle of the floor. Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tony Snell position themselves on the weak side to space the floor.
Initiating the action, Maker sets a back screen for Brogdon, who cuts to the basket. And, well, that's it. However the defense is playing will determine how and where Brogdon cuts. This time, he bumps Alex Abrines towards the ball, and goes backdoor.
Once Brogdon is clear, Delly lobs it up for his backcourt partner, something that the second-year guard is still getting used to. "Definitely," Brogdon said when asked if it's weird to be on the receiving end of an alley-oop. "I'm not used to catching alley-oops, I just try to go get 'em and lay 'em in."
With Snell and Giannis spacing the floor on the weak side, their defenders can't help far enough over to prevent Brogdon from getting a catch. Notice how on the clip below, even though Steven Adams drops, the Thunder have no backside help. That's because Carmelo Anthony is reluctant to leave Snell wide open in the corner, and no one is ever helping off of Giannis.
The Bucks have been running this set constantly in recent weeks, and even though it doesn't work perfectly every time, it seems to get them an easy bucket at least once a game. Here they are again going up top to Brogdon against the Bulls.
Sometimes, though, it's so wide open that Delly and Brogdon don't even have to bother with the alley-oop part.
Brogdon, for his part, thinks one reason the play keeps working, is because of the element of surprise. Yes, the Bucks run the set often, but opponents just aren't expecting an alley-oop involving two point guards. He also credited the spacing provided by his teammates on the weak side with getting him the easy looks. "Having guys like Khris and Giannis on the floor takes the attention off of me, so I get open," Brogdon noted.
"That opens up the floor for everybody," Delly added in regards to the spacing. "You can look out when you have Khris on the weak side, they stay hugged up on him. And if they come in, you skip it over to him."
Which, is exactly what he did in this clib below from Wednesday night. Bojan Bogdanovic moves ever so slightly towards Brogdon's cut, and Delly immediately whips the ball to Middleton in the corner. Now all of a sudden the defense has to deal with have a strong offensive player attacking a closeout and driving downhill towards the basket.
"I think sometimes playing [Middleton and Giannis] away from the ball and away from the action, they can rest, but as soon as their guy helps, they get an easier catch than they normally do," Delly concluded.
Whether it's through the lob up to Brogdon, or on the counter to the weak-side wing, the Bucks are having plenty of success with this neat little set. It's a fun and interesting alternative to an offense that is usually dominated by the big three of Giannis, Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe, and it's something to be on the lookout for the next time you catch a Bucks game.
Just don't expect Delly to be on the receiving end of the alley-oop.
"[Kidd] was thinking about it," Delly admitted after the win. "He said, 'do you want to catch one?' I said, 'ah, maybe next game.'"
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