UCLA Basketball: New Year, New Offense


Last season, the Bruins offense was less than spectacular and at times is best characterized as Bryce Alford trying to force a basket as the shot clock expires. This year with a new, fast uptempo system, it’d be surprising if history repeats itself.

Freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, has been one of the most ballyhooed recruits the UCLA Basketball team has received in recent history, but along with his prodigious skills, Ball brings with him an offensive system that might make viewers think Showtime is back in LA.

So how will UCLA perform on offense this season? Let us look at the set up.

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Ball-ing Out

This new system, pioneered by his father LaVar Ball, plays at an uptempo place and utilizes many unorthodox concepts, most namely the belief that practiced shooters should be free to take long distance uncontested shots, generally thought to be poor to take.

"“If you practice shooting from 30, 40 feet, that [can be] a good shot. It’s better to shoot a 30-footer with nobody in your face and go through your technique and your form, as opposed to shooting right on the 3-point line with a hand in your face.” – LaVar Ball"

I would highly recommend reading this article, where the above quote came from, to read more at depth about LaVar Ball and his basketball philosophy.

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While this doesn’t mean every UCLA player will start shooting from the logo, in preseason exhibition games against Australian professional teams, UCLA has already begun freeing more players to take open shots along the perimeter.

As the NBA has begun to more heavily utilize, deadly perimeter shooting spreads the floor.  This makes it easier to give UCLA’s bigs like Thomas Welsh, or T.J. Leaf the ball in good positions where they can score high percentage shots close to the basket, and not worried about paint being clogged or otherwise crowded when they get the ball.

As an aside, it should also be noted that Ball taking over point guard duties frees up Bryce Alford to be more of a shooting guard. By being more of a 2-guard, Alford is better able to use his shooting and scoring capabilities, allowing him to score points more efficiently. In contrast to last year when he shot .385 from the field, while taking a large percentage of the teams shots.

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Pressing the Gas

Lonzo Ball’s incredible vision and passing ability have been developed to play in LaVar Ball’s fast pace system.

Generally speaking, transition offenses want to move the ball up the court quickly and capitalize numbers (if they have more players back), mismatches (players who get ahead in transition are not neccassarily being guarded by players who have the skill sets suited to doing so), or otherwise utilize the open space.

Generally speaking, these kind of offenses are turnover prone, and require teams to have ball distributors who have good vision/awareness and can make accurate passes. The vine below should quell any doubts you have about Ball’s ability in either of those categories.

By being a team that can both spread the floor, and press down field quickly, the Bruins are poised to create a lot of scoring opportunities, and should be able to point up a ton of points on every team they come against.

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Personally, I’m really excited for Bruin basketball to start and can’t wait to see how many points UCLA can put up in Pauley. If you’re want a teaser to see what this new UCLA basketball team will look like next year, you can watch the Bruin victory over the Australian professional team Brisbane Bullets, from over the summer above.