Dane Carbaugh, who edits the Blazers blog AYoungSabonis.com, will be providing the occasional column for Blazersedge this season. Carbaugh will put together playbook-style video breakdowns to accompany his written observations. His previous posts can be found at this handy link. -- Ben
Portland has been getting the ball to Wesley Matthews on the block this year with increased frequency, and it's paying off for Terry Stotts and his coaching staff. Last season, the Blazers used Matthews in the post on just 6.8 percent of his touches. This year, it has almost doubled to 12.4 percent.
The Blazers guard is getting the ball down low on mismatches in both size and experience. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he's one of the thicker, stronger two-guards in the league. Frankly, he has always been able to push smaller players out of the way.
This year, Stotts wants Matthews to take advantage of inexperienced wings who are not used to guarding players in the post, regardless of size. That has put him on the low block against taller players like James Harden, Gordon Hayward and Harrison Barnes.
Portland tries to get Matthews the ball down low in two ways. First, they will move him to the block off one pass from the high post. This is the most basic set the Blazers will run:
Portland sets up with two players at the high post (HORNS) as Matthews moves to the ball-side block.
More interestingly, when Portland gets out on a fastbreak where there is no advantage, they will run a two-man game with their wings on the secondary break, putting Matthews into position against a less experienced or smaller player before the defense has time to properly set itself:
Portland runs a two-man game with their wings to switch Stephen Curry onto Wesley Matthews down low.
The results have been fantastic. Matthews has moved up to 0.96 PPP in the post, better than last year's mark at 0.87. He's shooting better from the field, and he has significantly cut his turnover rate.
Part of that has to do with the kinds of shots Matthews is taking. In previous years, his two most common moves included bullying his way to the basket on a hard shoulder, or squaring into a triple-threat stance and driving toward the lane.
This year, Matthews has added a turnaround jumper that he appears to have worked on with LaMarcus Aldridge. It is a two-dribble backdown move with a spin to the right shoulder where the feet are set at an angle to the baseline:
A comparison of Wesley Matthews' new turnaround with the one belonging to LaMarcus Aldridge.
Adding this shot has increased the complexity pf Matthews' post-up game, forcing defenders to guard multiple angles of attack and helping Matthews find greatest success in the post. Now, Matthews can pull up square to try and draw a foul, he can drive to the lane, he can go up-and-under on the fadeaway, and he can hit the turnaround jumper.
Keep looking for Matthews to go to work against inexperienced and smaller wings when the Blazers are looking for high percentage points.
Video via MySynergySports.com. All stats as of Dec. 27.