It's not often teams try to do anything fancy on free throw attempts. I mean, what can you really do? One guy shoots, the other guys jockey for position to get the rebound, right? Well, Flip Saunders has designed a play he hopes will occasionally catch the opposition off guard, and he broke it out on Saturday against Miami:
Antonio McDyess was shooting the second of two free throws. The Pistons were lined up around the lane as usual, except that Carlos Delfino had positioned himself deep in the baseline corner, behind the three-point line. Upon McDyess' release, the Pistons executed a series of screens and blockouts while Delfino raced to the basket unchecked along the baseline. He wound up slam-dunking the missed free-throw attempt in the face of the stunned Heat players.
. . . snip . . .
As long as Delfino starts from behind the three-point arc, and as long as he doesn't cross it until the ball is released, he can legally pursue the offensive rebound from that position.
The rule states, "Players not occupying lane spaces must remain on the court behind the three-point line and may not be touching the line or floor inside of the line when the ball is released."
Saunders will use that play with Delfino, Richard Hamilton or Carlos Arroyo, and he doesn't really care if other teams know it.
"If we execute it correctly, they shouldn't be able to guard it," Saunders said.
That's because, if everybody does his job, the play boils down to a foot race to the basket between one of the Pistons' fastest players and his defender.
Eventually, defending teams will position a player in the corner, as well. But, since the ball isn't there, that defender isn't allowed to impede the forward progress of the Pistons player. All he can do is try to beat him to the basket.
And Saunders likes his odds with speedsters Delfino, Hamilton and Arroyo.
The Pistons tried it twice before Saturday's game, but the team was whistled for a line violation both times. This time, Saunders warned the refs before the game, explaining why it wasn't actually illegal.
I didn't see the game, so I'm still a little confused at how this actually goes down, but it sounds like a pretty nifty card to have in the deck.
Basketball 101: Free-throw lane violations [Detroit News]