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New Orleans Pelicans

Ian Clark and Off Ball Movement

AP/Doug Parker

The New Orleans Pelicans are not off to the hottest start this season. Despite promise of a revitalized offense led by assistant coach Chris Finch, the Pelicans are lacking in off ball movement and too many possessions are ending up as isolations. But there is one new addition to the team who is working off ball incredibly well: Ian Clark.

Clark is shooting over 58% from deep this year, and one of the reason why is because he works off ball to get open. Take a look at the play below:

Ian Clark is ping ponging back and forth like to stay level with the ball. Kickout passes become significantly easier to make when all the ball handler has to do is look to the side. Passes require less velocity and usually have better angles to avoid a turnover. As, the now departed, Jordan Crawford drives, Clark sees his defender has committed to provide help defense. Clark knows he’ll be wide open and stays on the same plane in order to provide an easy outlet pass.

This made three has a similar DNA to the play above. Clark realizes he is undefended and curls up to the level of the ball to provide an easy kickout pass. What’s worth noting here is that he leaves the short corner to move above the three point line break. The shot he takes is actually longer than had he stayed below the break. But Clark makes the pass easier for Crawford by sliding up the court and staying even with the ball.

While these are not looping cuts into the lane for an easy dish and score, off ball movement like this is just as important to opening up the offense. And as the Pelicans looking to bounce back after their 0-2 start they’ll need all of it they can get.

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Jake J. Madison is the host of the daily Locked on Pelicans podcast. Covering the Pelicans and NBA since 2010, you can catch him on various sports programs around New Orleans and nationally.

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