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Roll With It: Ryan Hollins Isn't Bad At Everything

Ryan Hollins is incredibly limited offensively, but the Grizzlies have notably incorporated him into the offense as a roll man over the course of his two 10-day contracts. How and why have the Grizzlies had such success with Hollins on the receiving end of pick-and-rolls?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Hollins is a guy Dave Joerger has wanted on the roster all season, so it makes perfect sense that he's been gifted substantial minutes during his two 10-day contracts with the Grizzlies. Hollins' playing time would not be an issue if minutes were not a zero-sum game, but the addition of Hollins has unfortunately cost a promising prospect and one of the few young, healthy guys on the roster in JaMychal Green the majority of his minutes.

While this is seemingly an instance of Joerger pushing his own agenda at the expense of what gives the team the most upside both now and in the future, it should be said that Hollins' addition to the lineup has brought its advantages. Hollins is incredibly limited on the offensive end, but he has carved out a nice role for himself as the roll man in the pick-and-roll.

As a roll man, Hollins brings a dynamic to the court that the Grizzlies have not really possessed this season prior to his addition (A healthy Brandan Wright would have brought this dynamic to the team in spades) and one that makes the Grizzlies more dangerous on the attack.

Eight of Hollins' fourteen buckets as a Grizzly have come with him as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, while several more of his buckets have come as an indirect result of the pick-and-roll (offensive rebound tap-ins after rolling to the rim unmarked).

Hollins has developed nice chemistry with Mario Chalmers in particular. The tandem has punished defenses with lobs much more than it should be able to on paper, much like the Matthew Dellavedova to Tristan Thompson connection that's been so lethal for the past couple seasons.

It seems odd that a player like Hollins who has bounced from team to team without ever playing much of a role in the league would develop into such a formidable weapon in the pick-and-roll, but the following play is a perfect demonstration of why that is not a mistake.

The first thing that Hollins does to set himself up for success as the roll man is to establish a wide, firm base when he sets the pick. It's also crucial to the play that Hollins is completely set before Chalmers utilizes the pick. If he's moving at all with that wide of a base when Chalmers makes his move, he probably gets called for an illegal screen. Hollins catches J.J. Barea on the screen as he often does to guards trying to defend the ball handler, and this gives the Grizzlies a leg up on the Mavericks before Hollins even begins his run to the rim.

Hollins sets screen

After Chalmers makes his way cleanly around the pick, Hollins runs to the rim without hesitation. This is what separates him as a roll man from the slower, but far more talented Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Hollins is exceptionally light on his feet for a seven-footer compared to the two aforementioned bigs, and his quickness doesn't allow the defense an extra second to recover.

Since Hollins caught a solid chunk of Barea on the pick, Dwight Powell is forced to step up on Chalmers while Barea scrambles to recover. This means his attention can't be where it needs to be, which is on Hollins' roll. Powell also doesn't have any help on Hollins because the Grizzlies are utilizing one of their spacier lineups as they often do when Hollins is in the game. Excellent spacing means the closest man to Hollins that could help — Raymond Felton — can't leave Matt Barnes to do so because Chalmers could simply kick the ball out to Barnes for a wide-open three. This essentially gives Hollins a free run down the lane to the front of the rim.

Hollins rim run

Chalmers, a master at changing his pace to manipulate the defense and allow his roll man to get into position, does exactly that. He catches both Barea and Powell in no man's land not defending anybody. At this point, Powell should probably backpedal and literally get his butt on Hollins to prevent him from jumping to catch a lob, but there's an obvious problem if he chooses that option. Chalmers could then continue to the rim and get off an uncontested layup. This is as deadly as the two-man game gets, because the Mavericks are truly forced to pick their poison.

Lob to Hollins

With Hollins in front of the rim, Chalmers lobs the ball in the air to Hollins for an easy slam.

Hollins dunk

Hollins isn't a guy opposing teams generally have to scout much for, but he will soon begin to warrant some extra attention — can't believe I'm saying this — if he continues to perform this well as a roll man. In just a handful of games with the Grizzlies, Hollins has already been on the end of the two-man game with Chalmers, Mike Conley, and Jeff Green.

Because of notable defensive limitations, it's tough to watch Hollins play significant minutes some nights, but his one particularly useful, offensive skill could land him a full-time role with the Grizzlies for the remainder of the season.