I'm watching the back to back ESPN NBA games tonight after a couple of college games and it's so interesting to see the contrast in how the Nuggets incorporated Billups into their team and are having success, and how the Pistons have adapted to Iverson and now starting to have success. Billups is trying to blend into what the Nuggets are doing, while the Pistons are altering what their used to doing to Iverson. And so far, they're both working.

I caught just a couple of highlights from last nights exciting 2nd half between the Pistons and the Warriors. It was quite the game, came down to a critical stretch in the 4th quarter where the Warriors turned the ball over on a rookie OB inbounds step-on-the-line play, and a couple of Rasheed Wallace 3-pointers. What I want to show here mostly though, is how the Pistons are basically a dribble drive team with everything going thru Iverson,

When you get a franchise player like Iverson, I think you do basically have to mold your team around that player. I don't think Joe Dumars made the move with the intention of having Iverson become the 5th starter, he made the move because he thinks Iverson is the guy that will carry the team to a Championship.

So, gone are the Billups 1v1 post isos, also reduced are the rip hamilton stagger screens, or the Rasheed Wallace isos. The Pistons basically go spread PNR,

Or a dribble drive with Iverson and the dump off or kick out,

It is a drastic shift from the Pistons under Flip Saunders. Under Saunders, the Pistons ran some ball-screens, but mostly ran stagger screens for a catch and shoot for Rip, Billups postups, and Rasheed postups.


Time will tell ultimately (by April) whether or not Joe Dumars' gamble pays off. One thing you can't fault him and Michael Curry for though, is trying to make it work with Iverson in the mix.

I was an assistant coach one year at a school where we happened to get a star transfer (shooting guard) from out of state (eventually went to a DivII). We were a decent team, but this star player was by far better than anyone else on the team. We didn't know this player was coming in September so we'd plan to run what we always ran, a 3-out 2-in hi-lo offense. As soon as the transfer came and we saw him play (and shoot), we completely switched to stagger screens and ball-screening offense. We ended up going to the final four of our state tournament with that player (first final four for that school in 10 years). I guess the lesson is, with a star player, build your offense around that player's strengths, but know that there are still limitations, winning a championship is tough...

For more great dribble drive video info from the originator himself, take a look at Vance Walberg's 2-DVD Set on the Dribble Drive Motion Offense. Coach Walberg is an assistant at UMass. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.