Ranking the 10 Best Pick-and-Roll Combos for 2013-14 NCAA Basketball Season
With all of the improvements and changes that have taken place over time in basketball, the pick-and-roll remains one of the most effective offensive tactics.
When executed successfully, it delivers an outstanding scoring opportunity.
The most dangerous pick-and-rolls involve two players who are both scoring threats. When the defense doesn’t know which of the two offensive players is more likely to turn into a shooter, they have to play more honestly.
In order to possibly create the biggest mismatch, pick-and-rolls have traditionally involved a team’s point guard and one of the team’s post players. However, this play can involve any two positions on the court.
The following is a list of what could be the 10 best pick-and-roll combos for the 2013-14 NCAA basketball season. Many of these pairs will just be forming for the first time this season. All of them can become devastating duos of offensive dominance.
10. Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk (New Mexico)
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Williams is an excellent combo guard who led the Lobos in both scoring and assists last season. He is a multi-faceted offensive menace who could become one of the nation’s most productive scorers.
Kirk, at 7’0” and 250 pounds, sets a massive screen, but he can also step out and knock down threes.
9. Joe Jackson and Austin Nichols (Memphis)
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Memphis’ Joe Jackson may only be 6’1”, but he has had a big-time first three years in the Tigers’ backcourt.
Last year, as a sophomore, Jackson was head coach Josh Pastner’s leading scorer (13.6 PPG) and assists leader (4.8 APG) while leading Memphis to a perfect (16-0) Conference USA campaign and an impressive 31-5 record overall.
But the best may still be yet to come for the Tigers.
Jackson will have a new frontcourt running mate in incoming 5-star freshman PF Austin Nichols, who can score both down low and facing up. Nichols’ game is rock solid, and he is ready to help the Tigers begin a new chapter of the hoops’ history in the American Athletic Conference.
8. Whoever Plays PG for the Gators and Patric Young (Florida)
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Florida has made it to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight for three consecutive years. There’s a good chance the Gators could make it four in a row if they get their point guard situation settled.
Rising senior Scottie Wilbekin would be penciled in as Billy Donovan’s floor general, but he was suspended indefinitely this month and is currently (June 21) not working out with the team. If his suspension is lifted, he will run the show.
If Donovan chooses to uphold Wilbekin’s suspension, the keys will be turned over to incoming freshman/McDonald’s All-American Kasey Hill. Hill is an exceptional ball-handler who can either drive or dish with equal effectiveness.
Either Wilbekin or Hill will have one of the best screeners in college hoops, Patric Young, running interference for them. Young may not be the most dynamic offensive weapon, but he can stop backcourt defenders in their tracks by setting a brick-wall screen. Well-built players bounce off of Young.
7. Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina)
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North Carolina fans everywhere have been waiting patiently for rising junior James Michael McAdoo to live up to his sky-high potential. The 2013-14 season may be when everything comes together for the 6’9” power forward.
Last year, McAdoo put up respectable numbers, averaging 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is more than capable of being a 20/10 guy if he effectively meshes with rising sophomore point guard Marcus Paige.
ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf calls (subscription required) Paige UNC’s “key returnee.” As last season rolled along, Paige played more confidently and consistently.
McAdoo and Paige’s ability to mesh will determine whether this season’s Tar Heels will under-perform in the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference or will make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
6. Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh (Indiana)
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Indiana lost its top four scorers, who accounted for two-thirds of the Hoosiers 2012-13 points. Yogi Ferrell faces a monumental challenge of orchestrating a reloading roster with tons of talent.
This huge task is made easier because of that elite-level recruiting class that arrives this summer. At the head of the Hoosiers’ 2013 incoming freshmen is multi-dimensional power forward Noah Vonleh. His ability to knock down shots from the perimeter will create some delectable pick-and-pop opportunities.
It will be interesting to see how Ferrell’s role changes in his sophomore season. Last year, his primary job was to run the team and deliver the ball to his teammates in scoring position. Hoosiers’ head coach Tom Crean will likely expect him to put up more points than he did last year.
5. T.J. McConnell and Aaron Gordon (Arizona)
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Whether Gordon ends up playing small forward or power forward really does not make much difference. He will still be one of the most dominating players in the west.
His ability to throw down anything that is close to the rim and McConnell’s slick handle is a match made in hoops heaven. It does not take much imagination to visualize games where the two connect over and over again.
If Gordon and McConnell gel, look out Pac-12, and look out March Madness!
4. Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle (Kentucky)
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We will find out this season when we watch Kentucky take the court with arguably the best recruiting class ever.
Harrison is a big (6’5” and 210 pounds) PG with exceptional court vision and outstanding passing skills. He is capable of putting up insane scoring numbers, but his primary purpose on this upcoming Wildcat team will be to deliver the ball to teammates in scoring position.
Randle brings super-high skill levels to the table. He can either go down low at the block or face up on the perimeter. He can score in so many ways.
Harrison and Randle have played a few times in high school all-star game situations. But the cohesive combination of these top-tier recruits is vital to building the core.
3. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne (Michigan State)
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Michigan State’s outside-inside duo of Keith Appling and Adreian Payne is the most experienced pair on this list. They have played three full seasons in East Lansing together and are looking to create chaos for the Spartans’ opponents in 2013-14.
Appling led Tom Izzo’s troupe in both scoring and assists in 2012-13. He is an aggressive penetrator who can finish in traffic or after contact.
Payne is a blue-collar, low-post beast who will battle anyone and dominate many.
Both Appling and Payne are high-energy players. When two players of this caliber join forces and are clicking, no one wants to face them, and everyone has to plan how to stop them.
2. Quinn Cook and Jabari Parker (Duke)
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Duke lost three important starters from last year’s squad. But help is on the way to Durham.
Duke’s Jabari Parker is exceptional. He is a young player who will be challenged in many ways. He can play either forward position and will cause matchup nightmares throughout the upcoming season.
Duke’s Quinn Cook made great strides in becoming a vital floor leader in the 2012-13 season. He is a steady, skilled distributor and confident scorer.
Together, Parker and Cook could turn the college hoops world upside-down. Parker is the kind of player who can do work down low on the block or step out and knock down an assortment of shots.
Even if Parker only stays one season at Duke, he will leave his mark on the collegiate game. Put that in the bank!
1. Austin Chatman and Doug McDermott (Creighton)
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McDermott is a two-time All-American and has been one of the most prolific scorers in the nation over the last two seasons. He is an exceptional shooter who can knock down shots from all over the court.
Chatman is a perfect teammate for a player like McDermott. He looks equally to score and to distribute. Defenders have to play them both honestly or either one will make them pay.
McDermott and Chatman will look to get Creighton going as they transition from Missouri Valley champs to Big East contenders.