While You Weren't Watching: Dragic fakes, Conley sneaks, and more
The NBA regular season operates at a frenzied pace, with one game and storyline bleeding into the next. Every Friday here at SI.com, we'll slow things down in While You Weren't Watching—a spotlight on the little moments in the week's slate that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. Here's what you may have missed...
• Dragickry. When given room to operate, Goran Dragic is among the craftiest finishers in the game. Even with that understood, what sorcery does he harness on this play in duping three defenders—all 6'9" or taller—at once while standing mere feet from the rim?
• Repetition. In pivoting through for a look at the rim, Houston’s Donatas Motiejunas finds all 285 pounds of Nikola Pekovic plum in his personal space. So he pivots through, and goes for another spin—this time through Ricky Rubio’s attempted double team—to throw Pekovic off just enough to lose him for this glorious scoop shot:
• Payoff. When perimeter players put in hard work during the offseason to bulk up and add “15 pounds of muscle” (the default measurement for summer strength gain), it’s to complete plays like this one. The Gordon Hayward of even a season ago wouldn’t likely have had the control to finish here:
• A second chance. Pau Gasol doesn’t usually pull in a ton of contested, high-value rebounds. More so, he does his work on the glass well enough to get by. On this possession, however, Gasol manages to defy what is essentially a box-out double-team by Ersan Ilyaova and Giannis Antetokounmpo by swatting the ball out to his teammates:
• A step too far. Markieff Morris, long an underrated passer out of the post, is incredibly sharp when it comes to exploiting soft pressure. Watch here as he pulls Boston’s Jae Crowder out of position, inch by inch:
• Guile. No point guard in the league has a deeper bag of tricks than Mike Conley. His list of dribble moves is in itself exhaustive, and beyond that he finds clever ways to use the space afforded him to manufacture looks that shouldn’t be possible. On this sequence he turns a hedge-and-recover from Spencer Hawes into a lead blocker of sorts—shielding Conley from his own defender before Conley slips past Hawes, all the while unaware:
• A leg up. When breaking into the NBA as a young big, every quirk of skill helps. That Mitch McGary has the awareness and finesse to make this kind of play bodes well for him:
• Persistence. Chris Paul, even while he has every reason to be frustrated with his teammates’ inability to convert on good opportunities, refuses to fold on this possession-turned-series-of-possessions:
• Modern art. The latest in Tony Allen’s layup attempts, subsequently bailed out by an iffy call on his put-back try:
• Achievement in geometry. I wouldn’t say that setting up Derrick Favors inside a triple team makes for a great pass, though it’s amazing in itself that Jazz forward Joe Ingles was able to find the angle: