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At Least We Know Our Problems Don't Lie In The Backcourt

The Relationship Between Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin -

Let's now turn our attention back to Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin. They're not individually as good as Francis and Mobley but are so much more dangerous because they can play off of each other. They're strengths are amplified because the defense cannot key in on them as they could on the earlier duo.

Both players can bring up the ball and initiate the offense, allowing the other to roam free and spot up. They can both attack the basket and are both competent enough at passing to find each other off penetration.

Most important though is their shooting. Because both players can spot up or come off screens, both players stay involved as threats in every play, amplifying each other's strengths. With Francis and Mobley, the defense could just key in on one of the two during each play. In our present case, that's not possible, and it makes the duo very difficult to defend.

Rahat Huq nails it right on the head. Why, exactly, are Speed Racer and ABZ so good together? Because, essentially, they are the same type of player. They can shoot well from anywhere at any time, and can drive if necessary. They also like to run. If they're both on the court at the same time, chances are, if you can manage to keep one in check, the other will slip free for an open shot or drive opportunity. With an offense as free-flowing and creative as Rick Adelman's, it's nearly impossible to keep one, if not both of them, from finding easy opportunities to score.

This is what made life so difficult for Tyreke Evans and Kevin in Sacramento. They were totally different players. As Rahat points out in his description of the Cuttino Mobely/Steve Francis duo, talent doesn't always make for a lethal backcourt if each of the two guards can't both be utilized on a given possession.

In terms of individual skill, as a duo, Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley were better than Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin. If you played a game of 2 on 2, I would put a lot of money on the former pair. The problem, however, is that Steve and Cat were redundant. Except for their pet alleyoop set, they couldn't play off of each other; they had to take turns each trip down the court.

Both Francis and Mobley were at their best when isolating off the dribble. But because Francis was such a sub-par passer, Mobley's spot-up shooting wasn't utilized in Francis sets. Similarly, because Francis could not spot up at all and because Mobley was an atrocious passer, Francis could not be involved in any plays called for Mobley.

Evans and Martin were of this same mold, albeit in a different manner. Evans likes to slow things down and shape a possession around his ability to get into the lane. He isn't as flexible a player offensively as Brooks is, and that in turn negatively affected Martin. The two weren't able to replace each other - instead, Martin would take his place on the wing while Evans would take the ball from the top of the key, and because of the way Evans dominated the ball and preferred attacking from up top, the two weren't interchangeable, which is, as Rahat notes, essential to a good backcourt duo. Martin couldn't use the whole floor to work, which seems selfish at first, but when you give him someone like Brooks, each player benefits from the amount of space created by constant movement.

In other words, I think we're going to like this combo for quite a while, hopefully.