I’ve really enjoyed not only the way Scott Brooks has found minutes for Daequan Cook by virtue of expanding to a 10-man rotation but even more so, how Cook has totally taken advantage of it.
Cook only sees 8-12 minutes a game typically (only five last night), but as OKC’s 3-point specialist, he’s ready to step on the floor and knock down shots when called upon. We could argue as to if Cook probably deserves a few more minutes a night, but point is, having a weapon like Cook in your second unit is pretty valuable.
Thing is, you’ve got to figure out exactly how to use him. Last night for example, Cook took two shots and went 2-2 (1-1) from 3. Exactly what you want from him. Underrated minutes. If he’s only going to sees four or five minutes, you’ve got to make sure he gets his shots. It’s very easy when you’re the third or fourth option on the floor to go those five minutes without getting a look. And Cook’s not on the floor just to stand around and play defense.
So Scott Brooks has developed a subtle play for Cook. I first noticed it about three weeks ago and now it looks like a set the Thunder runs routinely only with Cook in the game.
It’s really a pretty simple set. Not a ton of movement, not a ton screening. Cook runs what my middle school basketball coach called an “umbrella cut” where he basically runs a half circle from one side of the court to the other.
The setup is key. With the way Cook runs his cut, it looks like he’s going to have no part of the forthcoming play. The ball goes to James Harden on the wing and Nazr Mohammed comes to set an on-ball. By all appearances, it looks like about the 500th screen-and-roll the Thunder’s going to run with Harden.
You can see Danilo Gallinari is watching the Harden-Mohammed pick-and-roll and has sort of forgotten about Cook on the wing behind him.
It’s all about timing here. Harden throws a skip pass, to a spot he trusts Cook will be at. On the skip, look at Nick Collison lining up Gallinari like he’s a tight end about to blow up a linebacker. With as well as the play is set up, basically it just comes down to if Cook makes the shot or not. If he gets a little space, he’s going to fire. And Collison’s screen gives him exactly that.
But look at how much room Cook gets. More than enough. Al Harrington gets caught having no idea if he should stay home on Collison or hedge out to cover Cook. As a result, OKC gets a beautiful look from 3 and Cook does the most important part: He makes it.