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  • Writer's pictureWayne Lafley

Offensive Concepts

Welcome to the third installment of our Lone Wolf Athletics blog. In today’s blog I will be talking about offensive concepts that we at LWA try and implement in our teams. As with anything I write about these are thoughts, concepts, etc. that we like our teams to use. What we believe in may not work for everyone. Like many things it depends on the make-up of your team. I hope that you enjoy the read and if it helps you as a coach, parent, or player…. then awesome!!

Transition O: Whether it is off a defensive rebound, steal, or made basket we want to run. Our first thought is can we get a numbers advantage in transition and turn that into a lay-up in transition. That may come from throwing the ball a head to a wing or post player and them driving for a lay-up, it may come from your ball handler driving it for a lay-up, or it could come from any player pushing the ball and then dumping the ball off to another player running hard (2 on 1, 3 on 2, etc.). To me this is the first 3-4 seconds of a possession. If we can’t get a lay-up, we are still expecting our players to then sprint to their spots on the floor with proper spacing. This is usually 15-18 feet, except for screening action. If we can’t get a lay-up in transition, then we are trying to get screening in the second faze of transition. This usually includes a ball screen and some type of weak side screening. We want this all happening in the first 5-7 seconds of a possession. Over the last few years the best team in the NBA has been the Golden State Warriors, this early screening action in transition has been a staple of what they do. Now you are seeing it consistently in the NBA. With this screening in transition we are simply trying to get our play makers free before the defense can get set up. The weak side screening is to occupy the weak side defenders and hopefully get them to mess up a help assignment. We urge our playmakers to be aggressive in the first 3-7 seconds. Early lay-ups or drive and kick three pointers off the screening action are quality shots. Those types of quality shots put pressure on the defense and what better way to do that than in the first 3-7 seconds of a possession when the defense is in transition back and not set up.

After Transition O: Good defensive teams get back and get matched up. So, what happens if you cannot get a quality shot in the first 3-7 seconds of a possession? For us we like to reverse the ball. This shifts the defense from help side to strong side and vice versa. Anytime you can get the defense in that transition from weak to strong they are vulnerable. Why do you think coaches work so hard on close outs and keeping teams pinned to one side of the floor! Catching the ball ready to shoot or ready to attack closeouts is an essential part of being a good offensive player and team. At this point we like to get into spread ball screening action with the use of pick & dives, slip screens, or pick & pops. We encourage the ball not to stay on the same side of the floor for more than two passes. We also encourage players not to drive the ball from where it just came from. The defensive is set up in that area. It is often a useless drive. Better to reverse it and get the defense shifting again. We love when we can drive middle gaps off reversals. A middle drive forces the entire defense to sink in. If the defense is poor on middle help you often get a variety of lay-ups and weak side kick outs for jumpers (preferably three pointers).

Other O Concepts (Cutting): Our kids usually cut for four reasons. One is to cut to get open. V cuts or L cuts to free yourself up to catch the ball. Two is we cut back door when denied. Three is when we may make a pass on the strong side and cut to the weak side. This is done to create big spacing for drives or pick & dive opportunities. The more space created the better the opportunity to score, and a hard cut to the weak side is a terrific way to create that big spacing needed. The 4th reason is we may run stuff where our guards enter the ball to post players on various spots on the floor and cut off the post player. The key to any of these cuts is to cut hard. No half speed cuts! Steph Curry may be the best cutter in the NBA. He always cuts hard and with purpose. I know some of you may read this and say what about basket cuts? I am not a huge basket cut person. To me these types of cuts often take away driving gaps or slow down pick & dive opportunities. But they may work for you…. depends on what you are running offensively.

Other O Concepts (Screening): Whenever possible we want to set hard, physical screens. We want players coming off those screens with their shoulder coming off the hip off the screener. The player coming off the screen should always also have their hands up ready to receive the ball. This is standard stuff. What we really try to do is make sure most of our screening consists of post players screening for guards or guards screening for post players. This doesn’t allow for teams to switch defensively and if they do it often creates mismatches that we can take advantage of. I personally love anytime we can use a guard to screen a post player into the post. I just think it makes it easier to get that post player where you want them versus having them fight one on one to get to where you may want them. And if the defense wants to switch that guard screen for the post player, well then you have your post play in the post with a guard on them or your guard on the perimeter with a post player on them. Either way is an advantage for your team.

Other O Concepts (Passing): Whenever possible we want all passes to be straight line passes. No passes that are hanging in the air or are behind a teammate. This slows up the offense or leads to turnovers. We work hard every practice on our footwork to pass. I am a huge believer in front pivoting away from your defender to pass. This creates separation from the defender allowing for less deflected passes. It also allows players to not blindly throw the ball. The split second we take to front pivot away from the defender also allows us to see where we are passing and if there is a defender in the passing lane…. thus, setting up nice back door cuts and passes. If you don’t have the pass you can simply keep front pivoting back to the other directions.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the offensive concepts we like to teach at LWA. With anything there are many ways to do things and none of this is gospel, but these concepts have been good to us over the years and I feel have allowed us to compete at a high level. As always, thank you for checking out our site and supporting LWA basketball!

Wayne Lafley



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