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Action We Love: The Hornet Handoff

AP/Chuck Burton

AP/Chuck Burton

As we get ready for the draft, free agency and the year that will be for the Charlotte Hornets, it’s important to remember that our core of Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and Head Coach Steve Clifford will be returning. With them, all kinds of fun and intricate basketball action that they put on display as part of the Bobcats 2013-14 campaign. With that in mind, we at QCH would like to look back at some of the great maneuvers the Bobcats put on display on offense AND defense, and imagine them in teal and purple.

We’re starting on the offensive end where the Cat’s got off to bit of a rocky start to begin the season. Coach Clifford did not hide the fact that his offensive schemes would be basic but there were a few wrinkles. One such wrinkle took advantage of a skilled passing big man in Al Jefferson and lightning quick point guards Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions. It had no official nickname last year, but when we see it again next year we will lovingly refer to it as the Hornet Handoff.

To fully examine the inner workings of the Hornet Handoff we’ve called in our specialist, our ringer, our master of the erasable white clipboard, QCH’s own Coach Spencer Percy.

percystake Coach Percy’s Take: Starts as a pick-and-roll on the left side of the floor that takes Kemba to the baseline. As the PnR develops, Tolliver rotates-and-replaces where the PnR action started. Kelly Olynck, being the high basketball IQ guy that he is, rotates down to touch Jefferson and take away an entry angle for Kemba. Recognizing this, Kemba fires the ball to the replacing Tolliver, who takes advantage of a recovering Olynck to enter the ball into Jefferson from the top. To end the play, Kemba just uses his lighting quick first step to beat his defender baseline. Jefferson delivers the handoff with accuracy and Kemba gets the easy two.

percystakeCoach Percy’s Take: This is probably a microcosm of how bad the Lakers were defensively this season over anything else, but hey, I’m not here to talk about L.A.

McBob completes the ball-reversal with the pass to Kemba. Jefferson is simultaneously using a block-to-block screen from Hendo to squeeze out position on the left block. Clean entry pass is made and it’s time to go to work for Big Al. Well, sort of. Meeks is angling his body to take away a cut to the middle of the floor from Kemba – one step to his right, Meeks bites on the step, and Kemba explodes with a cobra-like baseline cut. Jefferson with the handoff while Pau Gasol sighs. Two points.

percystakeCoach Percy’s Take: Oh, Cody Zeller. Ramon and Jefferson are trying to orchestrate a two-man game while Zeller is clearly lost and attempting to set a ball-screen for Sessions. Ramon literally acts as if he doesn’t see Zeller, enters the ball into Jefferson from the top, and makes a baseline cut for the handoff + layup from Big Al. Again, this play is made possible by the quickness of Sessions. Just like Kemba, Ramon has an extremely quick first step that is very hard to keep up with for a defender.

Funny side-note to this sequence: Zeller’s attempt at a ball-screen actually gets Stuckey one step off balance due to the fact that he thinks that Sessions is going to use Zeller for a back-pick. Not so, just the ole’ Hornet Handoff. Dos!

percystakeCoach Percy’s Take: This play is brought to you by Big Al Jefferson and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Great action for an offensively challenged lineup. UCLA screen (elbow up-screen) from Jefferson for CDR to begin the action. Tolliver replaces (looks like Zeller should have been setting a down-screen for AT). This is where this play gets really fun – CDR acts as if he’s going to turn the corner for the top of the key and Jefferson acts like he’s hunting CDR’s man for a up-screen. CDR stops on a dime just shy of the left block, steps to shield Gasol, and Jefferson comes off of CDR’s shoulder for the entry from Sessions.

All of that good action and then the play simply ends with Sessions using his quickness to get low of his defender on the baseline + receive a handoff for the lay-in. Doesn’t get much easier than this as the Lakers wonder how much longer is left in the game.

The Hornet Handoff was and will be effective because of the quickness of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson’s outside shooting threat that causes his defender to hesitate a half-step before coming back to help. Keep your eyes open for the Hornet Handoff next season and stay locked in to QCH for more Action We Love.

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