Category Archives: Offensive Strategies

June 9, 1987 – Magic’s Junior Sky Hook

In Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Celtics, the Celtics had led by as many as 16 points but with 12 seconds left were only up by two, 106-104.

The Lakers came down and passed the ball inside to the leading scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was fouled on the shot and sent to the free throw line.

Kareem made the first free throw but missed the second one.

However, in the scramble for the rebound the ball was knocked out of bounds and given back to the Lakers.

The Lakers called timeout and set up a play to throw the ball back inside to Kareem but instead Magic Johnson drove into the middle of the key and shot a perfect Kareem like hook shot over Boston’s Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish.

The made shot gave the Lakers a 107-106 win and propelled them to go on and win the NBA Championship 4 games to 2.

Magic Johnson, who shot what announcer Tommy Heinson called a “junior sky hook” was named Finals MVP.


Using a Screen Away from the Ball

ScreenThe cutter has the best chance of getting open if he waits for the pick to be set before cutting
tot he ball. Cut shoulder to shoulder off a screen to eliminate any chance your defender can slash through the screen. There are four basic options depending on how your defender plays the screen.

  1. Go over the top and continue to the basket when your defensive player trails you around the screen

  3. Curl over the top for the quick shot if the screener’s defender allows your defender to slide behind the screen one man removed.

  5. Pop Out or Step Back for the shot if your defender attempts to go completely behind the screener and their defender two men removed.

  7. If your defender cheats and jumps high in front of the screen before it can be properly set you can either flare away from the screen in the opposite direction your defender has jumped, or you can go back door to the basket if your defender gets caught high side by the screener.

The above ideas were taken from one of Alan Lambert’s “Playground Pointers.”

Use Hockey Steps to Shake Your Defender

Hockey StepsHere is a great tip from the Concord Storm that can be used either with or without the ball:

“As you run forward at a moderate speed, take a series of short, quick, parallel steps. Stay low with your knees flexed. Combine this with a change of direction move and you will have your defender scrambling behind trying to catch up.”

“Also while you are running and taking these hockey steps alternately thrown in some head and/or shoulders fakes. This will help confuse the defense because with different body parts all going in different directions the defense can’t be totally sure which way you will eventually cut.”

5 Ways to Use a Ball Screen

1. PNR1Reject the screen.
Fake into the screen and when your defender starts to cheat over the top drive in the opposite direction

2. Attack the hedger.
If there is a hard hedge by the screener’s defender then attack his front foot. As soon as he opens up his stance you will have a clear path to the basket. If the defense likes to show and retreat then start by driving hard and stopping quickly to freeze the defender and then drive hard again.

3. Bounce back.
This is  an effective technique to use against defenses that want to trap on ball screens. Start over the screen and then bounce back dragging the defenders with you. As the defense extends more space is created making it more difficult for the defense to rotate and cover up.

4. Drive the screen.
Pictured on the right this is the most common method of using an on ball screen, especially at lower levels. Once the ball handler drives past the screen he can go to the rim, stop and shoot the ball, hit the screener rolling to the rim, or drive into the paint and then kick it out to an open teammate.

5. Stop behind and shoot.
If your defender goes behind the screen then stop right behind your teammate and shoot the ball. Just make sure you don’t go past the screen or your defender will be waiting for you.

Great Shooters Do These 12 Things

  1. The Shooters 12Shoot well off the catch and the dribble
  2. Use screens effecticely
  3. Are not great by accident – they put in serious work
  4. Shoot the same way every time
  5. Are always shot ready
  6. Go to the gym and MAKE 500 shots (anyone can SHOOT 500 shots)
  7. Have a pregame routine
  8. Practice game shots at game speed from game spots
  9. Don’t make 500 different shots – they make 1 shot 500 times
  10. Shoot whether they’re on or off
  11. Focus on the next shot not the last one
  12. Always think the next shot is in

The above list comes from Coach Daniel Makepeace of Pure Intensity Basketball

Change of Pace – Change of Direction

Change of PaceIn an earlier post I mentioned Coach Fred Litzenberger and what a great teacher of the game he has been throughout his career.

If you ever watch Coach Litz in practice you just might hear him yer “Change of pace, change of direction!” a hundred times.

He’s not just yelling at the ball handler either – he wants all his players using this highly effective technique to lose their defensive player.

Change of pace simply means first running hard and then slowing down while you start to straighten up in order to make the defense think you are stopping. When the defense relaxes and starts to slow down himself then you put your head down and accelerate as quickly as possible.

This one move can get the defender off balance and create all the separation you need to leave him in the dust whether you are dribbling, cutting, or running the floor in transition.

The second half of this technique is pretty self explanatory. Since most times you change direction you will want to move towards the basket, you can accomplish this by planting your outside foot and then rotating your hips and head in that direction.

Long before ball handlers learned to dribble behind their back or between their legs they used a change of pace and change of direction to free themselves of full court pressure.

The next time you practice or play open gym try using the change of pace and change of direction technique.

Use it at least once when you have the ball and at least once again when you don’t have the ball but are cutting in order to receive a pass. Your coaches and teammates will be surprised at how easily you are creating space and getting open!

4 Reasons to Run the Pick and Roll

Pick and RollThe pick and roll is one of the oldest and most popular plays in the history of basketball and teams that master the skills involved in the pick and roll can become virtually unstoppable. (For an example, go back and watch some video of last season’s San Antonio Spurs.)

However, there is obviously a huge difference between mastering the required skills and just running through them!

There are four main reasons why the pick and roll has been so effective for decades:

1. Creates size and/or speed mismatches

2. Forces two defensive players to defend one offensive player which causes defenses to rotate and cover up

3. Gets opposing defenders in foul trouble

4. Lets you play your best offensive players regardless of “position”

I see a lot of middle school and youth teams running the pick and roll as well as nearly every team in the NBA. However, I don’t see a lot of high school teams using it.

If you are still thinking about what to run on offense this year you might want to consider adding a pick and roll option.

Not only is it effective if run correctly but it will cause opponents to prepare longer and differently for you than for other teams on their schedule.

What Offense Are You Going to Run This Season?

Choosing OffenseCoaches: Is the offense you are going to use with your team this upcoming season for your players or is it really for you?

Are the shots produced by the offense good shots for your current players or are they good shots for you?

For example, are you running a perimeter oriented offense because you’re loaded with several outstanding guards or are you running it because you yourself were a perimeter player in high school?

Former New York Knick coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy says that the secret to effective offense is to get more quality shots for your best shooters/scorers than the other team can get for theirs.

The key word here is “quality.” What is a quality shot? Simply put, it is a shot that will be made more often that it will be missed. However, not all shooters shoot well from every spot on the floor.

Therefore, if you really want quality shots then find out where your best shooters like to shoot from and build your offense around those spots.

Those spots might not be the same ones you have always liked but the offense isn’t really for you now is it?

6 Qualities of Great Shooting Guards

  1.  Shooting GuardsGreat shooting guards aren’t ball stoppers and score within their teams’ system. They let  the game come to them but also know when it’s time to take over.
  2.  Great shooting guards remember the makes and forget the misses. They ‘play present” and always have confidence in their game and in their scoring ability.
  3.  Great shooting guards love getting buckets but also take pride in shutting down their opponent’s best scorer. They love making their opponent feel useless.
  4.  Great shooting guards can their own shot but can also create for others. Great shooting guards are play-makers and not just scorers.
  5.  Great shooting guards sprint the wings ever time. They know sprinting will reward them with open shots and finishes at the rim and open up opportunities for others.
  6.  Great shooting guards can make 3’s consistently but don’t just settle for 3’s. They take on balance 3’s but can also score in mid range or at the basket.

The above concepts were taken from a series of tweets on the Pure Sweat Twitter Timeline.