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Elizabeth Williams Short-Roll Play is diversifying the Chicago Sky's attack

In a small sample size, just three games now under the coaching of Emre Vatansever, a few things are clear — ball security is emphasized, second-chance points are being mitigated with intention, and their offensive process (as well as spacing within in) is slightly evolving.

Amidst each of these entities of their general process, plus the stamping of Vatansevers touch on the offense, has been Williams offensive usage and the volume of manners in which she’s functioning.

Her usage percentage is up 2.8%, at 17.9% — which, if sustained, would be a career-high in these initial three games.

Additionally, and generally, she’s averaging 13.7 points per game, on 53.3% from the field, with 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

She’s up to 10 points (up from 7.5 in 16 games prior) in the paint, in her increased minutes total of 33.6 per (5.6 more minutes) as well.

Zooming in specifically on her playmaking, she’s amassed two of her three best marks of the season in assist points created.

She had 15 against Indiana (on July 2) and 14 most recently. Add the seven from the first game of last weekend’s slate against the Dream, and you begin to see her playmaking becoming a steady hand in their general playmaking process.

To be transparent, I have to note she’s run up a few assists due to the Sky’s usage of more “get” or “handback” or “chase” action, where a player will pass to Williams, then follow their pass into a handoff by her — which has been effective in keeping their flow, generating pace after an action breaks down, and generating advantages.

Williams has also handled slightly more in the Sky’s secondary break scenarios as a handoff hub in their “Delay” action — where she’ll have the ball at the dome, sometimes a live dribble, connecting to the second side and flowing into actions.

However, independent of those scenarios, she’s also been very good on the short roll.

Her short-roll decision making is being optimized by the aforementioned (much) better spacing, and their pick-and-roll play being much better.

The Sky are more opportunistically occupying the corners with shooters — making a season best of nine through three games — and are getting attempts up from there, on 4.7 per.

Generally, they’re also getting up more attempts (+4.5) from deep.

Williams’ function in both her gravity as a roller, and playmaking prowess when serving as a vacuum for her team, to then spray from the paint to the perimeter with passes — has been a fun and effective evolution in their process.

Let’s dive into the film to paint the picture further here.

I’ll preface with this first play, that these are all coming while dictating in pick-and-roll, with Courtney Williams.

She’s been *so* good this season in playmaking, especially out of the pick-and-roll (as mentioned last week), that opponents are now sending two to her, enabling her to serve as an advantage setter.

She gets “hockey assists” here and below, due to her ability to attract multiple players, which ultimately gets the defensive dominos falling, leading to the advantage.

Here, after a great re-screen angle from Elizabeth, Courtney attracts the attention of two.

Elizabeth is then hit with a perfectly timed pocket pass. As she gets it on the short-roll, both low defenders condense the floor in converging on her — which, by virtue of her paint touch on the roll and the attention conceded at the point of the screen, enables Elizabeth to spray from the roll, out to an unoccupied Copper, for 3.

Notice the pace at which the read and react from the Williams’ connects within the advantage.

Next, we’ll see more of the same.

First, they manipulate the space beautifully here on a secondary break, off the drag screen.

They’re able to align it to where there’s an isolated tag off their best shooter, in Mabrey, and, odd the drag from the slot, Parker shoots up from a short drop, to a hedge.

A quick reverse pivot into the slipping of Atlanta’s two to the ball see’s Elizabeth free in the channel, triggering the single-side tagger and Mabrey’s match-up, Robinson, to step over in rotation.

As that domino falls, it renders Mabrey *wide* open, and Elizabeth with another opportunity to connect from the short-roll, for three more.

Robinson is compromised and put in a very tough decision-making scenario, as there’s consequences to pay either way.

Next rep will look similar, just structured differently.

Notice here, Mabrey is again stashed one pass away, and how Gray isn’t enticed to even jab at the roller, yet alone tag.

Additionally, with Smith in the corner, Coffey is reluctant to do so for similar reasons.

The hesitancy and reluctance in rotating off the Sky’s shooters displays exactly how effectively Vatsnsever is weaponizing and optimizing his team’s spacing, as well as Courtney drawing two to the ball at the point.

That space enables Elizabeth the opportunity to catch and make a decision.

Coffey doesn’t commit to Williams’ roll until she puts the ball on the deck, and Williams astutely doesn’t commit to the pass until someone deters her from the basket.

Elizabeth with yet another prompt decision made, in the advantage.

We see more of the same in this final instance.

Different personnel gets a different reaction out of the defense, but Willams is composed and decisive.

Jones (guarding Evans, at the nail) is comfortable jabbing at the roll to stagnate flow. It keeps Elizabeth from directly engaging the lowman, again it’s Coffey, nonetheless, the pace on the pass from Williams plus the accuracy, enables Bertsch to knock down a look from deep.

Elizabeth continues to evolve both in her tandem play with Courtney, as well as in the Skys offensive process — as a connector, secondary playmaker, and vacuum with her roll gravity — all serve as entities that can continue to optimize the Sky, and could help to raise their floor in springboarding them to a better level of play, offensively.

Film Session

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