clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Inside the Set: How the Suns turned Biyombo’s lack of offense to an advantage

Quick film session on how the Phoenix Suns took advantage of the manner in which Biyombo was guarded. From the Suns-Pacers game on January 21, 2023

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This a one-play rep from the Phoenix Suns, zooming in on the finer details of why this action was called in the Suns-Pacers game from Saturday, and why it was so successful.

For the deposits of value that Bismack Biyombo brings to any lineup he’s featured in, he does have weaknesses operating on the offensive end of the floor.

He’s a non-shooter and a non-driver, especially in space and away from the restricted area.

His value comes when setting screens, rolling and attacking the offensive glass - also known as the three most effective ways any non-shooter can make themselves effective on the half-court.

Indiana intentionally “gapped” off of Biyombo, with the intent of staying solid in their defensive shell, and in help. They were even so brazen that, at times they’d even double off of him and not rotate to the general area he occupied.

Take a look at this still shot, with the ball:

Or even this one, without it, as they were putting two to the ball on the outer third actions of the Suns:

With Biyombo though, as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t even a “tag” or defender rotating to even the general area he's occupying, one pass away from the ball.

This development led to what was an astute observation, and counter to this tactic from Indiana.

Phoenix would come out with “Veer” action, an on-ball screen immediately followed by the same screener flowing into an off-ball screen, rather than popping or rolling to the basket.

What was even more unique here as we zoom in, was the Suns use of second-side activity, via a flare screen from the eventual recipient of Biyombo’s “veer,” who was Washington Jr.

I dove into that dynamic and its importance to the entire action here:

The sequencing of both Biyombo’s pick, combined with Washington Jr.’s flare screen, was great. Add to that Biyombo not sticking too long on his pick, to then flow to the perfect spot to make Duarte’s closeout more difficult to navigate, and you see the execution on display here.

The two-on-one (with Duarte in the rearview), generating a pick-and-roll-adjacent type scenario, that was to come in the middle third saw great attention to detail.

An underlying dynamic here is the bevy of ways the Suns systemically maneuver their way to attacking within the middle third, generating paint touches, and manipulating advantages-galore to optimize the talents at their disposal.

This approach, pairing actions together, is an offensive dynamic seen more frequently on the college basketball stage. The court is smaller, so tasking help defenders with occupying their help responsibilities, simultaneously with a primary action occurring, is far more imperative due to the shrunken space to work with.

Closing Thoughts

Phoenix is generally one of the best at gathering information over the course of a game, to then take advantage of opposing tendencies and schemes.

Whether that be Booker and Paul, the coaching staff, or a combination of both.

This was an example of that, within the flow of the game. Making them a constant riddle to solve.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bright Side of the Sun Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Phoenix Suns news from Bright Side of the Sun