Feature Film: Second RoundMay 14th, 2019
Watch how three key tactical battles unfolded in the second round.
Beating the DropMay 7th, 2019
Boston had success against the Bucks' dropped back pick-and-roll defense early in the series. Milwaukee adjusted effectively, but we can still learn from the subtle tactics Boston used to play Milwaukee out of their base defense.
Philly's HawkMay 1st, 2019
The continuing evolution of the Sixers' Hawk sets lends insight into the Sixers-Raptors series and how tactics change between rounds.
How to Stop James HardenApr 24th, 2019
The Jazz resorted to an extreme style of defense in an attempt to stop James Harden—and it hasn’t exactly gone as planned. What has worked, what hasn’t, and is there even an answer to this question?
Counters and ConfusionApr 18th, 2019
Xs and Os battles are what make the playoffs special. A survey of some of the tactical skirmishes that have taken place so far.
Shrinking the FloorApr 15th, 2019
The Nets' offense was so effective in Game 1 because of their ability to attack the rim. To bounce back, Philadelphia will have to rely more on their off ball help.
Styles Make FightsApr 12th, 2019
The stats that will determine three of the Western Conference’s first round matchups.
Playing the Second SideApr 10th, 2019
The Sixers employed a very effective counter to the Bucks' defense in last week's matchup. How it worked—and where there's still room to grow.
Clifford's MagicApr 9th, 2019
Steve Clifford has once again completely turned around a team's defense in his first season. But why did it take so long for things to click this year, and what is behind Orlando's recent defensive surge?
Ask Ben: Kawhi's D, Rebounding, Projections, and AgentsApr 5th, 2019
Answering subscriber questions about Kawhi's defensive stats, rebounding rates by location, projecting team records, and agent influence.
Hot or Not?Apr 3rd, 2019
Does the hot hand exist? And if it does, how should coaches and players think about it? A debate with Henry Abbott of TrueHoop.
Danilo's Downfall?Apr 1st, 2019
Contributor Elyse Weiss and I explore perhaps the most important offseason question for NBA teams — and why it means the Clippers should be very, very worried about Danilo Gallinari's future.
Feature Film: Confusion, No Looks, Switching EndsMar 28th, 2019
Watch Jarrett Allen's positioning confuse the defense just enough, a pair of functional no-look passes, and how players running in transition can indirectly lead to a bucket.
Will the Lakers Make the Playoffs? A ReviewMar 26th, 2019
A look back at the Lakers' season through the lens of preseason predictions—especially my own.
Bucking the Trend: Follow UpMar 20th, 2019
Mike Budenholzer was asked about my article on the Bucks' three-point defense. My thoughts on his response, and what it can teach us about coaching.
First-Year FrustrationsMar 15th, 2019
How much do we learn when a rookie struggles?
The Shifting Scouting LandscapeMar 12th, 2019
A pair of recent articles raises important questions about the scouting industry and where it's headed.
Outside the Box ScoreMar 6th, 2019
Is Andre Drummond a good defensive rebounder? The answer is more complicated than you might think, and requires us to examine the nature of rebounding itself.
Watch With Me: The Non-Shooter SagFeb 27th, 2019
When non-shooters are on the perimeter, smart defenses ignore them. The recent Warriors-Blazers game shows how elite offenses counter this defense — when they execute.
Bucking the TrendFeb 21st, 2019
How, in an NBA obsessed with long range looks, does the best defense give up the most threes? The answer lies in a subtle but very important change over the last few years of NBA basketball.
Trade Deadline: Additional ThoughtsFeb 15th, 2019
Why the Sixers' trade for Tobias Harris had as much to do with JJ Redick as Harris, the important distinction between basketball value and market value, and more.
Watch With Me: UTA @ HOUDec 24th, 2018
Houston's close win over the Jazz last week helps illustrate a lot of the important subtleties of NBA defense. Watch it with me.
Three's a CrowdDec 18th, 2018
The collapse of the “Brooks” trade was worth a laugh, but also highlights one of the real challenges of three-team deals.
Forward ThinkingDec 13th, 2018
Ben and Jordan Brenner discuss three key forwards and the questions surrounding them.
Rookie Review: Collin Sexton vs. SacramentoDec 11th, 2018
Checking in on the rookie point guard's progress.
Early ReturnsDec 6th, 2018
Digging into a few important stats to keep an eye on as the season moves forward.
First Look: Bol BolDec 4th, 2018
Initial impressions of one of the most intriguing players in the draft.
Watch With Me: TOR @ MEMNov 30th, 2018
The second half of the Raptors/Grizzlies contest said a lot about why Memphis is winning—and where they can struggle. Watch it with me.
Worth His WeightNov 28th, 2018
How Robert Covington went from waiver-wire castoff to a solid-gold defender.
Running on EmptyNov 21st, 2018
One variety of pick-and-roll seems to be used with increasing frequency—and it helps illuminate the subtle tactical battles of NBA coaches.
Custom FitNov 19th, 2018
Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler might not mesh in a traditional way. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make their pairing work.
Surprise, SurpriseNov 16th, 2018
The numbers behind three teams who have had surprising starts. How likely are they to continue?
Rookie Review: Trae Young vs. the LakersNov 13th, 2018
Trae Young is off to a strong start to his career—just not in the exact way we expected.
Feature Film: Between the Legs, Drop vs. Pop, Big = SmallNov 8th, 2018
Watch the reason Damian Lillard's between-the-legs dribble is so effective, the strategic dilemma facing Milwaukee's defense, and yet another way bigs are playing like smalls.
“If you miss it, I’m gonna go get it.”Nov 7th, 2018
How does Enes Kanter dominate the offensive boards? He shares his tricks of the trade.
Ask Ben: High School Coaching StatsNov 6th, 2018
How can high school coaches use statistical analysis?
The Panic ButtonNov 1st, 2018
Are the Rockets doomed after their slow start? Let’s see what the math says.
Watch With Me: Stack AttackOct 31st, 2018
The end of the Mavs/Spurs game turned into a chess match over one of the NBA’s trendiest plays. Watch it with me.
Trick or Treat: Early Season SurprisesOct 29th, 2018
As usual, we’ve seen some early-season surprises. But which ones will last longer than a jack-o-lantern on a doorstep?
Feature Film: Jogging the Cut, Between the Lines, Boarding the SwitchOct 25th, 2018
Watch a poor cut break a clever Lakers set, players breaking the rules because they can get away with it, and an overlooked way to attack a switch.
Rookie Review: Deandre Ayton vs. DallasOct 23rd, 2018
Deandre Ayton struggled on defense in college. What did he look like on that end in the first game of his career?
Feature Film: Opening NightOct 19th, 2018
Watch clips from opening night, including teams beating switches and players finishing by cutting off the shot blocker's angle.
Watch With Me: Preseason, MIN @ MILOct 15th, 2018
Watch last week's Minnesota-Milwaukee preseason game with me. A new feature where I watch part of a game and point out what I'm seeing, hoping to make it like you're watching the game next to me.
Cleveland's Young TurkOct 12th, 2018
Can Cedi Osman help the Cavs move forward without the King? Contributor Diccon Lloyd-Smeath examines Osman's national team and preseason play.
Will the Lakers Make the Playoffs?Oct 11th, 2018
Previewing the Lakers’ season isn’t just about figuring out what they might look like. It also provides a lesson in prediction.
Feature Film: 2018-19 PreseasonOct 8th, 2018
Watch two of the game's elite defenders shut down two players at once, a clever pick-and-roll variation, and a key to transition defense.
Portland's Hazy TrailOct 4th, 2018
The Blazers have been a good team for several years. But without a clear shot at a title, what is their path forward? Contributor Jordan Brenner investigates.
The Spurs' Crucial PointSep 27th, 2018
Perhaps the biggest determining factor of the Spurs' upside will be the play of Dejounte Murray. Contributor Ryan Nguyen examines what he does well and what he'll have to improve on to reach his potential.
Everything You Wanted to Know about Training CampSep 26th, 2018
...but never had anyone to ask. The latest in my subscriber Q&A series.
What's Left for Len?Sep 21st, 2018
Alex Len never produced like a top-five pick in Phoenix. Why did he fail, what does it tell us about the value of certain types of big men in today's NBA, and will anything change as he joins the Hawks? Contributor Nick Sciria explores.
The Lakers' Wild CardSep 20th, 2018
Brandon Ingram's development will be a key to the Lakers' championship aspirations. How does he fit with LeBron, and what will he have to improve on to make sure the Lakers don't fall short of their goals?
Can Bud Boost the Bucks?Sep 18th, 2018
Mike Budenholzer has a rep as an offensive wiz. But does that mean he’ll actually make the Bucks' offense better? Contributor Ryan Nguyen dives into the Xs and Os.
Dissecting Doncic's DSep 14th, 2018
Luka Doncic looks like a transcendent offensive player. But how will he hold up at the other end of the court? Contributor Max Lefevre explores.
A Look at LambSep 13th, 2018
Believe it or not, NBA teams are already studying next year’s free agents. And Jeremy Lamb is an intriguing option, one that warrants real study.
Drummond's DevelopmentSep 12th, 2018
Andre Drummond took some key steps forward this past season, but his impact still falls short of his box score numbers — particularly on defense. Contributors Steve Jones Jr. and Jordan Brenner show how.
Chriss at a CrossroadsSep 6th, 2018
Marquese Chriss was the 8th pick in the draft just two years ago. Why did the Suns give up on him, and what will he have to fix if he's going to make a difference in Houston? Contributor Ryan Nguyen explores.
The Perfect Pass: Additional NotesSep 4th, 2018
What can coaches learn from The Perfect Pass that goes beyond football?
The Dwight DilemmaAug 29th, 2018
It’ll take more than the work of Wizards to find any Magic lingering in Dwight Howard. He’ll have to understand his true strengths—and weaknesses. From contributors Steve Jones and Jordan Brenner.
2017-18 Answers: Plus-Minus MachinesAug 27th, 2018
Four players who excelled in plus-minus stats switched teams before last season. What did we learn from their performance?
2017-18 Answers: Evolution of the Big ManAug 23rd, 2018
The Pelicans' big duo, the Spurs' shooting bigs, and how the way big men were used continued to evolve in 2017-18—or didn't.
The Jones JoltAug 22nd, 2018
Minnesota's best lineup was their starting unit—with Tyus Jones in place of $19M man Jeff Teague. Contributor Dylan Murphy digs into why Jones provided such a boost to the T-Wolves' performance.
Melo's MoveAug 20th, 2018
How well will Carmelo Anthony fit in Houston? Contributor Jordan Brenner takes a look.
2017-18 Answers: Only One BallAug 16th, 2018
Revisiting the questions I asked before last season in order to determine what we learned. First up: does it matter that there's only one ball?
New York GrooveAug 15th, 2018
After bottoming our in Utah, Trey Burke found new life with the Knicks last season. But was his performance just a fluke? Contributor Ryan Nguyen investigates.
Thomas' Tall TaskAug 13th, 2018
After a year to forget, can Isaiah Thomas rekindle his career in Denver? Contributor Jordan Brenner explores.
Without the BallAug 10th, 2018
Lonzo Ball was drafted to be a playmaker. So how will he fit next to LeBron? A follow-up to last week's article on Ball's defense.
The Perfect FitAug 8th, 2018
Boogie Cousins’ Achilles injury led the Pelicans to discover the frontcourt they never knew they needed. Contributor Ryan Nguyen examines what happened when the Brow met Niko.
What is Love?Aug 6th, 2018
After years of deferring to LeBron James, Kevin Love will be back in a primary role. But will he be able to summon the version of himself that we saw in Minnesota? Contributing writer Jordan Brenner explores.
OKC's Double ThreatAug 2nd, 2018
Supposedly, crashing the offensive glass requires a tradeoff in transition D. The Thunder beg to differ. Contributor Ryan Nguyen investigates.
The Other Side of the BallJul 31st, 2018
Lonzo Ball's rookie year was a disappointment—on offense. But his defense tells a different story.
Summer Scout: Trae YoungJul 25th, 2018
Trae Young gained attention with his shooting and scoring, but his Summer League play suggests that we should have been focusing on his passing all along.
Summer Scout: Mo BambaJul 24th, 2018
It wasn't Mo Bamba's raw production that impressed in Summer League — rather, his quick uptake of the finer points of NBA pick-and-roll defense.
Summer Scout: Mitchell RobinsonJul 23rd, 2018
Knicks' rookie Mitchell Robinson's Summer League performance was in some ways jaw-dropping — and in others, head-scratching. Contributor Bjorn Zetterberg takes a look.
Know the GoalsJul 19th, 2018
The Kawhi Leonard trade is a deal that makes sense for both teams — if you understand what it says about their goals.
The Suns Take a Euro StepJul 18th, 2018
One takeaway from Summer League: new Suns coach Igor Kokoskov is ready to bring a dose of Euro offense to Phoenix. Contributor Ryan Nguyen breaks down some of the sets he ran and what makes them unique.
Summer Scout: Jonathan IsaacJul 16th, 2018
Jonathan Isaac's Summer League performance showcased his defensive strengths — but also showed how much growth he still needs to make on offense.
Second Draft: Zach LaVineJul 13th, 2018
Zach LaVine has the athleticism and the shooting stroke, but lacks important fundamentals. Contributor Steve Jones Jr. shows us where he'll have to improve to live up to his new contract.
Second Draft: Rodney HoodJul 10th, 2018
Once thought to be a part of Utah's core, Rodney Hood now faces an uncertain future. How much remaining potential does he have, and what is the right role for him? Contributor Dylan Murphy explores.
Second Draft: Dante ExumJul 9th, 2018
Dante Exum hasn’t shown much of the ability that made him a top-five pick, but the Jazz re-signed him anyway. Will they regret that move?
Free Agency and Free WillJul 3rd, 2018
The reaction to LeBron and Paul George's decisions reveals how differently we talk about athlete employment decisions from everyone else. Plus my thoughts on the Cousins signing and all of the one-year deals.
Second Draft: Mario HezonjaJun 29th, 2018
Mario Hezonja likely won’t be the player the Magic imagined when they drafted him fifth overall, but he could still fill a valuable role with improvement, writes contributor Dylan Murphy.
Second Draft: Julius RandleJun 27th, 2018
Should teams splurge on an offer sheet for Julius Randle? Should the Lakers match it? That depends on whether they can fix his defense. From contributors Bjorn Zetterberg and Jordan Brenner.
Red FlaggedJun 25th, 2018
Michael Porter Jr.'s slide in the draft reveals a blind spot in team draft process: the right way to think about injury risk.
Everything You Wanted To Know About the Draft (But Never Had Anyone to Ask), Part 2Jun 21st, 2018
Answering questions about draft strategy.
Everything You Wanted To Know About the Draft (But Never Had Anyone to Ask), Part 1Jun 20th, 2018
What is the draft like inside a team? I answer subscriber questions. Part 2 coming Thursday.
Ayton's IssuesJun 19th, 2018
Deandre Ayton sits atop many draft boards. But he still has work to do. Contributor Norm de Silva zeroes in on Ayton's biggest problem areas.
Marvin Guardin'Jun 18th, 2018
Marvin Bagley can score, board, leap and run. But will his defense hold him back in the NBA? Contributor Steve Jones Jr. investigates.
Bamba's BlocksJun 15th, 2018
Mo Bamba was an elite college shot-blocker. But does that mean he’ll be an elite NBA defender? Contributor Dylan Murphy reviews Bamba's help defense, and how it might translate to the pros.
Spread SpartanJun 13th, 2018
Jaren Jackson Jr. showed plenty of defensive potential at Michigan State. But his offensive play might determine just where he deserves to be drafted. Contributor Nick Sciria breaks down Jackson's potential as a perimeter big.
Bridging the GapJun 12th, 2018
Why did Miles Bridges draw so few free throws? And how much does it matter? A detailed stats and film breakdown provides one hypothesis, and one approach to thinking about free throw stats.
Picking PointsJun 11th, 2018
Contributor Liam Flynn delivers a detailed breakdown of the pick-and-roll play of the consensus top point guards in the draft: Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Collin Sexton.
Shootaround: Warriors at Cavs, Game 3Jun 6th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Warriors and Cavs to prepare for tonight's Game 3. Coached by contributors Steve Jones Jr. and Dylan Murphy.
Feature Film: Finals, Games 1 & 2Jun 5th, 2018
Watch the tactical chess match thus far in the Finals: the Cavs' help off of Draymond Green (and the Warriors' response), and a set each that has worked well for both teams.
Trae's TreysJun 4th, 2018
How did someone with Trae Young's reputation as a shooter make only 36% of his threes? Contributor Bjorn Zetterberg digs into the numbers and finds it's all about context.
Finding OladipoJun 1st, 2018
After Victor Oladipo’s unlikely rise to Third Team All-NBA, the hunt is on for the next reclamation project. If only it were that easy.
Feature Film: Western Conference FinalsMay 31st, 2018
Part 2 of the conference finals Feature Film. In this edition: GSW with more creative ways to beat the switch, Harden's poise in pick-and-roll, Tucker's screens, and Curry's movement.
Feature Film: Eastern Conference FinalsMay 29th, 2018
Feature Film is back, as I empty out my conference finals notebook with a supersized edition. Today: the Eastern Conference Finals.
Shootaround: Warriors at Rockets, Game 5May 24th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Rockets and Warriors to prepare for tonight's Game 5. Coached by contributors Steve Jones Jr. and Dylan Murphy.
UpsizingMay 23rd, 2018
The Cavs have gotten back into the series with the Celtics by going big. Why has that change been so effective?
A Smart DecisionMay 22nd, 2018
The Celtics are on the brink of the NBA finals without two of their best players. But as they try to build a sustainable core, tough choices linger, starting with the futures of Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier.
Rocket LaunchedMay 18th, 2018
In Game 2, P.J. Tucker beat Draymond Green at his own game, and the Rockets showed that they can play a pretty good version of small-ball, too.
The Goalposts Always MoveMay 16th, 2018
The Raptors are in the midst of the most successful run in franchise history. So why isn't that good enough anymore? What the firing of Dwane Casey tells us about achieving goals in the NBA.
Switching Off Cleveland's OffenseMay 15th, 2018
How the Celtics stifled the Cavs' offense in Game 1, and what Cleveland can do to counter.
Shootaround: Warriors at Rockets, Game 1May 14th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Rockets and Warriors to prepare for tonight's Game 1. Coached by contributors KC Beard and Liam Flynn.
Shootaround: Cavs at Celtics, Game 1May 11th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Cavs and Celtics to prepare for Sunday's Game 1. Coached by contributors Steve Jones Jr. and Norm de Silva.
Valuing the PiecesMay 10th, 2018
NBA teams have interviewed five different members of the Spurs’ staff for head coaching positions. But do the Spurs really have all of the best coaching and front office talent? On the challenges in evaluating success from afar.
Pragmatism WinsMay 9th, 2018
Early in the series, Utah's pick-and-roll defense flustered the Rockets. Contributor Ryan Nguyen examines Mike D'Antoni's pragmatic counter.
Presidential PitfallMay 8th, 2018
When the Pistons parted ways with Stan Van Gundy it was another nail in the coffin for the dual coach/president role. Is this setup destined to fail? What is it that makes it so challenging?
The Value of a CoachMay 7th, 2018
How much do coaches matter? My thoughts on a question taking center stage as playoff chess matches unfold and coaching interviews progress.
Shootaround: Cavs at Raptors, Game 2May 3rd, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Raptors and Cavs to prepare for tonight's matchup. Coached by contributors Norm de Silva and Dylan Murphy.
Gravity Equals MassMay 2nd, 2018
In the physics of the modern NBA, shooting gravity equals mass. Contributor Ryan Nguyen explores how teams are using shooters as screeners to great effect.
Cracking the ShellMay 1st, 2018
The Celtics were able to contain the Sixers' transition attack in Game 1, in large part by emphasizing the full court shell spot. What can Philly do to counter?
Switches and SafetiesApr 30th, 2018
In Game 1 against the Pelicans, Golden State once again showed their defensive versatility. On the tactics they employed to slow down the league's hottest offense, and New Orleans' counters.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Hassan Whiteside?Apr 26th, 2018
What seemed like a series made for Hassan Whiteside turned into a disaster. On Whiteside, and what evaluating him can tell us about evaluating big men in general.
In-Flight Adjustments: Post DefenseApr 25th, 2018
Minnesota's big advantage coming into their series against the Rockets was in the post. Contributor Liam Flynn breaks down how Houston has managed to limit any damage done on the block.
Shootaround: Heat at Sixers, Game 5Apr 24th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Heat and Sixers to prepare for tonight's matchup. Coached by contributors Steve Jones Jr. and Dylan Murphy.
The Trouble with Foul TroubleApr 23rd, 2018
When Victor Oladipo picked up two fouls in the first minute of Game 2, it raised a common question: what is the right way for coaches to manage foul trouble?
Shootaround: Cavs at Pacers, Game 3Apr 20th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Cavs and Pacers to prepare for tonight's matchup. Coached by contributors Norm de Silva and KC Beard.
Feature Film: Playoff TacticsApr 19th, 2018
Watch a strategic skirmish between the Blazers and Pelicans, the Heat catch the Sixers on mistakes of execution, and Draymond Green with an out-of-area box out.
Shootaround: Utah at OKC, Game 2Apr 18th, 2018
Step inside the film sessions of the Jazz and Thunder to prepare for tonight's matchup. Coached by Dylan Murphy and Steve Jones Jr.
In-Flight Adjustments: Wolves' Pick-and-Roll DApr 17th, 2018
Minnesota couldn't stop the Rockets during the regular season. In Game 1, though, they changed their pick-and-roll tactics with some success. Contributor Liam Flynn breaks it down.
Battle at the BasketApr 16th, 2018
The fourth quarter of Game 1 between New Orleans and Portland was all about defending the rim out of pick-and-roll. It was a battle New Orleans won in this first game — and it's one that will likely define the series.
Smart and ScaryApr 13th, 2018
The Sixers' defense has propelled them to a surprisingly successful season. Contributor Nick Sciria explores how they've done it: playing a style we might call "intelligently aggressive."
Feature Film: LeBron Show, Slipping the Pin, Double BigApr 12th, 2018
Watch LeBron and the Cavs counter the show and time a slipped screen perfectly. Plus another example of two non-shooting bigs playing together successfully.
Shootaround: Bucks at SixersApr 11th, 2018
Introducing a new feature: Shootaround. Today's Shootaround brings you inside the film sessions of the Sixers and Bucks to prepare you for tonight's matchup.
Stat of the Week: Jokic's DApr 9th, 2018
Analyzing Nikola Jokic's defensive statistics reveals a fundamental challenge in player evaluation.
Feature Film: College EducationApr 5th, 2018
Friday Film is now Feature Film. Watch college coaches implement the Xs and Os of the pros, with some thoughts on how basketball lessons translate across levels.
The Post Up is Dead, Long Live the Post UpApr 4th, 2018
The conventional wisdom is that the post up is dying in the modern NBA. And that's true, to a point. On the rebirth of post play — with a twist.
Two-For-One or Two-For-None?Apr 3rd, 2018
Two-for-ones have long been accepted as a key part of smart coaching. But are they really as valuable as we've come to believe? Contributor Positive Residual investigates.
Stat of the Week: Easy Points and the MavsApr 2nd, 2018
What the Dallas offense tells us about the importance of looking at the context in which a team scores.
Friday Film: In the Zone, Grand Theft, Shading the InbounderMar 30th, 2018
Watch the NBA's zone defenses, a different kind of steals, and the importance of the inbounder defender.
Tank BlitzMar 29th, 2018
There's an important distinction to make between short-term and long-term tanking, one that's particularly relevant this season.
Doing It BetterMar 28th, 2018
The Michigan Wolverines' run to the Final Four has, surprisingly, been on the back of one of the nation's best defenses. Contributor K.C. Beard explores what drove their improvement, and the lessons it teaches about coaching.
Stat of the Week: Gobert + FavorsMar 26th, 2018
The Gobert + Favors combo wasn't working for Utah at first — but that story has now flipped. On the cause, a part of the solution, and what it tells us about a question of larger coaching philosophy.
Friday Film: Swiping, Town's Help, Don't Push BackMar 23rd, 2018
Watch the importance of the swipe, Karl-Anthony Towns' lack of help, and a counter to push defenses.
Cutting the Defense OpenMar 22nd, 2018
Contributor Dylan Murphy examines a specific kind of cut that is very effective at opening up teammates. It's a cut that represents the ongoing Xs and Os chess match between coaches — in more ways than one.
Mob MentalityMar 21st, 2018
The Raptors bench mob has been a large part of what has propelled them to the level of play they've been seeking for years. What exactly is it that has made this unit work so well? Contributor Ryan Nguyen explores.
Stat of the Week: Isaiah Thomas' FinishingMar 19th, 2018
Why Isaiah Thomas' finishing may be the most important indicator of his health.
Friday Film: Switch Counter, Double Stack, Back to BackMar 16th, 2018
Watch Toronto's counter to the Rockets' switchy lineup, the Knicks tinkering with sets, and the Wizards run the same play twice in a row with the game on the line.
Eyes Off the BallMar 13th, 2018
When we watch basketball, our tendency is to focus on the ball. Contributor Dylan Murphy reveals an overlooked but important factor we miss when we do that.
Stat of the Week: C's ReboundingMar 12th, 2018
The Celtics' rebounding has been a huge part of their defense — and it's changed drastically depending on what position Jayson Tatum has played.
Friday Film: Xs and Os EleganceMar 9th, 2018
At first glance, Houston's 21 Nash set just looks like a simple middle pick-and-roll. But there are reasons why it's so effective — reasons that can teach us a lot about the modern NBA.
Live LooksMar 7th, 2018
NCAA conference tournaments are underway. To front offices this time of year means something very different than to fans: the last opportunity to see players live. But how much does that matter?
Stat of the Week: Luc's DMar 5th, 2018
The Rockets have been a major surprise on defense, and there may be no player more responsible than Luc Mbah a Moute. Introducing a new feature where I provide the detail behind an intriguing stat.
Friday Film: The Boban Show, Reading the Cut, Dennis Without MenaceMar 2nd, 2018
Watch Boban as the center of a player vs. player chess match, smart cuts from the perimeter, and Dennis Smith's lack of fight on the interior.
End the Foul OutFeb 28th, 2018
If I could make one change to the on-court rules, it would be this: let’s end the foul out.
Friday Film: Cavs' Elbow, Redick's Movement, Wrong FootFeb 22nd, 2018
Watch a Cavs/Celtics chess match, what JJ Redick creates with his constant movement, and James Harden's craftiness in isolations.
Ask Ben: Kill the Assist, Playing VetsFeb 20th, 2018
Answering questions from subscribers: how to think about assists as a stat, and how teams approach the tradeoff of playing vets vs. young players.
Friday Film: New Team New Scheme, Rejecting Screens, Inverted PNRFeb 16th, 2018
Watch the learning curve of joining a new team, a useful pick-and-roll tactic, and the pick-and-roll flipped on its head.
The Cavalry ArrivesFeb 14th, 2018
The Cavs transformed their roster on the afternoon of the trade deadline. On the unique challenge the Cleveland front office faced and the ramifications of these trades for this year and beyond.
The AftershocksFeb 12th, 2018
What does the trade deadline tell us about the league as a whole, and what to expect this coming offseason?
Friday Film: Guile not Speed, On a String, 5/4 PNRFeb 9th, 2018
Watch Steph Curry use guile, not speed, to create a layup, the importance of subtle off-ball movement, and Marc Gasol run a quick-hitting center/power forward pick-and-roll.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Trade Deadline (But Didn’t Have Anyone to Ask)Feb 8th, 2018
What is the trade deadline like inside a team? I go through the questions posed by subscribers and lay it all out for you.
Friday Film: Pelicans EditionFeb 2nd, 2018
Four plays from recent Pelicans games: watch the baby Bulls struggle to defend NOP's spread pick-and-roll, the Bulls recognize mismatches (or fail to), a twist on the back-screen pick-and-roll, and good off-ball cuts.
Missing MiroticJan 31st, 2018
An explanation of the rules that have held up the Nikola Mirotic trade, with a discussion of what this tells us about the Pelicans' offseason plans and how they got to this point.
Taking the Next StepJan 30th, 2018
The Blake Griffin trade is unlikely to solve either team's problems, but that's less about the trade itself and more about what got them to this point. A front office strategy perspective on the deal.
Midseason Review: Marvin Bagley IIIJan 29th, 2018
Marvin Bagley III has some special athletic gifts which, combined with great touch bode very well for his future. But is that enough to make up for two glaring deficiencies?
Friday Film: Free Board, Olynyk's Fakes, StuntingJan 26th, 2018
Watch Steven Adams' unique free throw rebounding, Kelly Olynyk's deceptiveness, and the art of the stunt.
Midseason Review: Mo BambaJan 23rd, 2018
Mo Bamba is a dominant college defender, with an enormous wingspan and the stats to match. But what does that tell us about his chance of NBA success?
Friday Film: Dennis' D, Hawks Run Hawk, Broken HammerJan 19th, 2018
Watch some reasons for Dennis Schroder's poor defensive statistics, the Hawks run their own Hawk set, and what happens when the Hammer set breaks.
Midseason Draft Review: Deandre AytonJan 17th, 2018
There aren't many questions about Deandre Ayton's physical ability. But does he have the basketball instincts to use that athleticism properly?
Friday Film: Mind the Gap, Flex Back, Pinch Post PassJan 12th, 2018
Watch Fred VanVleet disrupt the Nets with positioning, Olympiacos' clever wrinkle on a set the Celtics run, and another example of how the Spurs machine never stops.
Midseason Draft Review: Luka DoncicJan 11th, 2018
Learn even a little bit about Luka Doncic, and it’s easy to believe in his future superstardom. But dig deeper, and there is plenty to study and discuss.
Friday Film: Staying Attached, Weakside Jumble, Double Drag PinJan 5th, 2018
Watch Kyle Korver burn the Celtics multiple times on the same basic action, the Rockets confuse the weak side defense, and a clever twist on a common transition screen.
Passing the TorchJan 3rd, 2018
Carmelo Anthony has left the Big Apple and the Knicks are now Kristaps Porzingis' team. But there’s one important way that Porzingis is following in Anthony’s footsteps — and it's not good.
Friday Film: Box Outs, Refs, and Speed vs. SwitchesDec 29th, 2017
Watch Robin Lopez show that rebounding isn't all about rebounds, the importance of referee positioning, and John Wall attack the switch.
The Rolling ThunderDec 26th, 2017
The Thunder are 11-4 in their last 15 games. Have they figured it out? Are their problems behind them?
Friday Film: Single/Double (and Inverted), Dummy Step-UpDec 22nd, 2017
Watch the Rockets smother Charlotte's single/double action, Miami's twist on it, and Cleveland fool the Wizards with a dummy step-up.
The Clairvoyance TestDec 20th, 2017
A discussion of Luka Doncic reveals the importance of precise definitions and testable statements.
Friday Film: Dougie McBackcuts, Empty Side, Reading the JumpDec 15th, 2017
Watch Doug McDermott's backcuts, a set designed to get an empty side pick-and-roll, and some jump ball craftiness.
Rocket LauncherDec 12th, 2017
Is PJ Tucker the answer to the most important question in the NBA? Why the Rockets' 4th quarter comeback against Portland should turn some heads in the Bay Area.
Friday Film: Warriors' Anticipation, Getting Off the Ball, Single-Side TagDec 8th, 2017
Watch the Warriors' incredible anticipation, Orlando beat pressure through unselfishness, and a reason to dribble toward a crowd.
Anatomy of a Play: Thunder's Hawk SetDec 6th, 2017
The Thunder ran their Hawk set on 9 of their final 10 halfcourt possessions last night. Let's break it down.
Ask Ben: Weak Hand and the D-LeagueDec 5th, 2017
Where I answer: (1) Many defenses try to force players to their weak hand, but how exactly do they determine this? (2) What is the philosophy behind D-League affiliates?
Friday Film: Smart's Error, OKC's Trio, LeBron's CutDec 1st, 2017
Watch Marcus Smart be a little too smart, the Thunder growing pains, and LeBron's tightrope act.
A Stormy StartNov 29th, 2017
The Oklahoma City Thunder have the record of a mediocre team but the point differential of a very good one. Which matters more? And what does it tell us about the Thunder's future?
Ask Ben: Halftime, Changing Play Calls, and Technology InvestmentNov 28th, 2017
Where I answer: (1) What happens at halftime? (1) How often do teams change their visuals? (3) How advanced are the techniques and technology used by NBA front offices?
The Celtic SurpriseNov 22nd, 2017
Boston has won 16 games in a row and has the best record in the NBA. How have they done it? And can they possibly keep it up?
Friday Film: Reading the Defense, PNR Timing, FloppyNov 17th, 2017
Watch Kyle Anderson anticipate the defensive rotations, the effectiveness of a slow pick-and-roll, and Denver's Floppy defense.
The Evolving NBA: Big-Big Pick-and-RollsNov 16th, 2017
Another battle site in the NBA's evolutionary arms race: big-big pick-and-rolls.
Friday Film: Clever Counter, Corner DHO, JaValeNov 10th, 2017
Watch OKC's simple but clever counter to Boston's pick-and-roll defense, the Sixers generate a wide open three, and JaVale being JaVale.
Breaking Down the Bledsoe DealNov 9th, 2017
A deep-dive on the Eric Bledsoe trade: the strategic factors in play for both front offices, and an examination of Bledsoe's value as a player and fit in Milwaukee.
"You F*** Up Sometimes": Additional ThoughtsNov 6th, 2017
Some further thoughts following my article on Archie Goodwin and draft mistakes: discussing the importance of process, whether I was really wrong, and group dynamics.
Friday Film: Snake, Wedge, Getting BackNov 3rd, 2017
Watch a master demonstrate snaking the pick-and-roll, a clever variation of a common set, and an overeager rookie.
Is the Magic Real?Oct 31st, 2017
The Orlando Magic are 5-2, but how seriously should we take them? And what does answering that question tell us about early season results in general?
Friday Film: Hammer, Marc, WeakOct 27th, 2017
San Antonio's (not so) surprising Hammer action, the craftiness of Marc Gasol, and "weaking" the middle pick-and-roll.
Ask Ben: Game-to-Game Strategy and Play-by-PlayOct 25th, 2017
Answering questions from subscribers: on game-to-game strategic coaching adjustments and play-by-play errors.
2017-18 Questions: Plus-Minus MachinesOct 23rd, 2017
Part three of my questions for this coming season: will the plus-minus machines keep humming? On how to think about plus-minus metrics, and the players that will test our conclusions this year.
2017-18 Questions: Evolution of the Big ManOct 18th, 2017
Part two of my questions for this coming season: how will the evolution of the big man continue? On New Orleans and San Antonio pushing their twin towers to the perimeter.
Anatomy of a Play: 10/17/17 BOS @ CLEOct 18th, 2017
Breaking down a set the Cavaliers ran twice at the end of their opening night game against the Celtics.
2017-18 Questions: Only One BallOct 17th, 2017
Part one of my questions for this coming season: does it matter that there’s only one ball? On Oklahoma City and Houston's star acquisitions.
Possibility vs. CertaintyFeb 12th, 2019
In my experience, NBA executives tend to fall into two different camps. It's a distinction that explains a lot about the moves made at this trade deadline.
How to Watch BasketballOct 16th, 2018
Want to watch basketball like a coach or scout? Here's how I learned.
Introducing PredictOct 3rd, 2018
Think you know basketball? Here's your chance to prove it.
The Perfect TruthSep 4th, 2018
On its surface, The Perfect Pass is a book about football strategy. But dig deeper, and it provides valuable lessons about basketball, coaching, and defeating conventional wisdom.
Eliminating the LimitJul 26th, 2018
The NBA is thinking about getting rid of the 19-year-old age limit for the draft. Here's my proposal for how they can do so while mitigating the problems of the original preps-to-pros era.
The NBA's Balancing ActJul 11th, 2018
Curing what ails the modern NBA — from tanking to superteams — requires changing the rules of the CBA. A proposal for what that would look like.
Making Sense of the CapJul 2nd, 2018
Why are the rules around NBA free agents and trades so complex? Understanding the what and why of all the terms thrown around this time of year.
The Michael Porter MysteryJun 14th, 2018
Michael Porter Jr. played only 53 minutes in college. Evaluating Porter's draft prospects requires digging into his play at other levels, and grappling with the right way to think about prospects like him.
The Combine's ContextMay 17th, 2018
As NBA teams descend on Chicago for the Draft Combine, they’ll get a rare look at prospects. But as they gather information, it’s critical that they also recognize the limitations of what they learn.
The Whole is Greater than the SumMar 14th, 2018
Why Robin Lopez, Mike D'Antoni, and a game played on beaches should change the way we discuss fit — and sports in general.
Thank YouMar 8th, 2018
The subscriber response to Cleaning the Glass has been incredible — thank you for making this possible. Plus three site announcements.
Sloan's EvolutionFeb 27th, 2018
What the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is — and what it is not. On the evolution of a conference and an industry, and the tensions it's now experiencing.
Deadline DynamicsFeb 7th, 2018
What happens behind the scenes during the trade deadline? The story of a deadline deal that changed the trajectory of a franchise.
Midseason MindsetJan 10th, 2018
This is the time of year when NBA teams conduct their midseason draft review. What is a midseason review, and what's the right approach to take when evaluating prospects in January?
How to Get a Job in the NBANov 14th, 2017
It is the most frequent question I get asked: how can I get a job in the NBA? My advice, based on lessons from my story and experience working for teams.
"You F*** Up Sometimes"Nov 2nd, 2017
Something to think about as scouting season gets underway: we all make mistakes in the draft. We shouldn't run from them, but learn from them.
Introducing InsiderOct 16th, 2017
Welcome to the next phase of Cleaning the Glass: Insider. What exactly is Insider? And why did I decide to go this route?
Cornered MarketJul 12th, 2017
Why don’t the Thunder sign big money free agents? Because the market isn’t what it seems. How max and rookie contracts distort the free agency market and alter the NBA landscape.
A Roll of the Dice, Part 3Jul 5th, 2017
If you’re not thinking about risk when you’re thinking about the draft, you’re missing something key. On Giannis, youth, and uncertainty vs. risk. The third and final part in this three part series about the draft.
A Roll of the Dice, Part 2Jun 28th, 2017
Scouting beats stats, but scouting plus stats beats anything else. What’s the right way to make front office decisions? There’s actually a science to it. The second in a three part series about the draft.
A Roll of the Dice, Part 1Jun 20th, 2017
On Bill Simmons' podcast, Malcolm Gladwell said that he doesn't believe there's "any great predictability" to the draft. Why he’s right - and why he’s wrong. The first in a three part series about the draft.
Making the TransitionJun 15th, 2017
The Cavs broke about every transition defense rule in the book in the Finals…and that might be reason for optimism. On transition defense in general, the Cavs' in particular, and what it tells us about what they do now.
LeBron Reads the DefenseJun 11th, 2017
A small demonstration of LeBron’s incredible basketball IQ: 30 seconds from Game 4.
Finals Notebook: Games 1 and 2Jun 6th, 2017
Three keys for Game 3, plus some subtle things you may have missed.
Working Out WorkoutsMay 30th, 2017
Draft workouts can be a powerful evaluation tool - but they also are uniquely dangerous.
In the ArenaMay 24th, 2017
No coaches were fired this season. That shouldn’t be so notable, and yet it is. Why?
Flipping the SwitchMay 18th, 2017
Switching defenses are becoming more popular in the NBA and perhaps no team plays against them more than the Warriors. But Golden State has been able to attack switches in creative ways.
Size MattersMay 11th, 2017
Houston has led the charge towards a new style of basketball, playing small and avoiding midrange shots - and the league has mostly followed suit. But one team is going the opposite direction. Who, how, and why?
The Worldwide Leader and the Cap JumpMay 3rd, 2017
How do the ESPN layoffs connect to the NBA’s changing financial landscape, and what might they mean for the future of the league?
On the Outside, Looking InApr 26th, 2017
How do you watch the playoffs as a non-playoff team? A front office perspective. Plus some thoughts on playoff choking: I don’t know if some players choke in the playoffs, but I don’t think you do either.
The Best AdjustmentApr 20th, 2017
A break down of the Clippers vs. Jazz series through the first two games, with in-depth video examples and some general thoughts on playoff adjustments.
Why Are These Games Different from All Other Games?Apr 13th, 2017
A look at what distinguishes the playoffs from the regular season, using examples from the epic 2014 Portland-Houston series.
Do the Bucks Stop Here?Apr 5th, 2017
How the Bucks' defense reveals an underlying strategic tension in the game itself.
Welcome to Playoff PreparationApr 5th, 2017
A short introduction to the upcoming period of playoff coverage on this site.