Great analysis - I’ve noticed this play, but don’t know enough about hoops mechanics to understand how it works. Beilein seems to run this play most often as the first possession of the second half - it’s almost always a quick and easy 2 points. I’d love to see it done more often, because - quick and easy 2 points.
The base play and all of the described variations wind up with the 5 getting a pass for a layup. Like you, I don’t know enough about the mechanics, but my guess is that if this were used frequently, teams would key off of the motion and drop someone to guard the layup. By keeping it infrequent a team won’t plan specifically for the set. But that’s just my guess.
To your point, I think it has become better scouted over time. There were a couple instances I recognized live where the action was well guarded, therefore the pass went back out to the perimeter. I think that’s why you’ve seen the variations I described later in the piece. The key element – the back screen for the ‘5’ man – remains in each version and is deadly when the play finishes with that action.
Part of the reason that it’s effective is that the 5 man can hit a jumper from the top of the key. If any team tried to drop a defender off of the 5 man to protect against the layup, then the 5 could pop back out to the 3-point line for a shot. It’s really a brilliant set for any team whose 5 can shoot the ball.
They must have been running it for years now. Take a former player’s word for it