Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Fast breaks
Early dribble-drive screens

Early ballscreens in dribble-drive motion.
Break 5 series - Loop (Over, Kickback-loop), Butler, Hawk, Pistol, Fist inverted, Dive, Double-dive, Quick-fist (cross-fist & Lowry), Pistol-2 (kickback-pistol), Ravens, Fist (early fist).

Break 4 series - Swing, Quick-drag, Pistol-drag, Gator, Shake, Drag.

In transition, 1 is the point guard, 2 sprints wide right, 3 sprints wide left, 5 rim runs and 4 is the trailer, 1 looks for a headman pass to 2, 3 or 5. If 5 rebounds, options are
- 4 rim runs, 5 trails
- 4 rim runs early, 5 rim runs late, see Fast break - Enfield 5 on 0
- there is no early rim run, 5 rim runs late (or trails for 5-out spacing, 4 gets wide), see Fast breaks - Two Side (Rocket).
Vance Walberg - 1 wants 4 to cut through, giving 1 the whole court up top.
Dave Smart - the Ravens dive the post matchup and the worst shooter.

2 and 3 go to the dead corners if there is no headman pass, 1 dribbles into the frontcourt looking to attack on the dribble, getting into dribble-drive motion. 5 goes weakside.

If 1 pulls up (instead of attacking), look for an early ballscreen, which can be a call, a read based on dribbling, passing and cutting action, or a random ballscreen within the dribble-drive offence. Early ballscreens are effective entries into dribble-drive motion, and can be denial counters (also slip ballscreens).

5 is the default screener (Break 5 series), or have 4 ballscreen (Break 4 series), e.g., if X4 is the worst screen defender, or use a combination.

John Calipari - drag is a ballscreen by the 4-man, any fist is with the 5-man, the ballhandler calls for it.

See Offences - Dribble-drive basics, Dribble-drive ballscreens, Kentucky ballscreens, Fast breaks - Early ballscreens, Triano early offence, Phoenix Suns drag screens.

1) Break 5 series

For random ballscreens, allow 5 to sprint out on a pass or dribble-at to screen for whoever gets the ball.

a) Loop

A read. 1 passes to 4, loops to the wing, 5 comes up off 1's back to pick and roll. 1 can fill behind, e.g. if X1 helps on the roller.

- 1 passes and follows to ballscreen (Over)
- 1 and 5 stagger or double ballscreen for 4.

See Offence - Dribble-drive ballscreens (loop, over), Hoiberg pitch series, Tactics - Van Gundy ballscreens (spread).

Swing-fist - a random ballscreen, 1 makes a swing pass to 4 and corner or through cuts, 5 comes out to pick and roll (see Fist).

A kickback entry can be used to disguise early ballscreens and have 1 and 4 switch positions with the same options.

Kickback-loop - here 4 could swing the ball back to 1, loop cut, and 5 ballscreen for 1 (a Kentucky play).

See Kickback-swing-pistol, kickback-fist, kickback-pistol.up

b) Butler

A read. 1 passes to 4 and basket (or corner) cuts, 4 can attack the basket or swing the ball to 3 (make eye contact, or call names) and basket cut, 1 gets to the ballside corner, 5 circles up to ballscreen.

If 5 is a dominant big, post up then ballscreen.

Variation - 1 clears to the weakside corner.

If 3 is denied on the blast cut, 4 can attack the gap up top, 1 exit cuts left (opposite the drive).

Butler can be random (swing-quick-fist).
See Petitgoue dribble-drive (Move), a ballscreen for 2.

See Quick hitters - Duke actions (Corner), Butler ballscreens, Zone set plays - Nets forwards out.

5 picks and rolls, 1 fills behind the ballscreen.

4 clears to the weakside corner if a shooter (shown), or to the weakside low post if a duck-in player (or if 1 cleared to the weakside corner).

Dave Severns - this is a single-side bump (the hardest pick and roll to defend), two attackers are spaced weakside, only X1 can bump the roll man. Defensively, teams "ice" the side pick and roll, sending 3 down to X1, weakside X4 and X2 help on the roll.

See Quick hitters - Chin series.up

c) Hawk

A call or read. Swing the ball to 3, 1 corner cuts using 5, 4 basket cuts, 2 lifts.

3 passes to 1, 5 backscreens for 3 then picks and rolls.

Hawk is a read on a corner pass, 5 can backscreen or post, then ballscreen.

Billy Donovan - 3 can cut then fill behind the ballscreen.

See Fast breaks - Spurs 2014 (Hawk action), Offence - Billy Donovan ballscreens.up

d) Pistol (pistol-fist)

A read. 1 passes to 4 and spaces wide to the sideline (no loop or basket cut), 4 dribbles right at X3 (a dribble screen), 5 circles to come high, 3 comes off for a hand-off, 4 pops to the corner, 5 picks and rolls.

4 can turn the corner to attack the basket, or if X3 denies a dribble hand-off, 3 goes backdoor, 5 screens for 4 if there is no pass, see Ravens below. 5 creates space for these options.

Pistol-fist can be random, 5 reads a wing dribble-screen. If 1 through cuts on the 1-4 pass, clear to the weakside corner on a dribble screen; if 1 corner cuts, break if off and exit opposite, or fill the ballside corner to create a super gap for 3, 4 steps to the sideline after a dribble hand-off.

Use dribble-ats as pressure release.

Kickback-swing-pistol - 1-4 kickback, 4-1 swing pass, 4 spaces wide, 1 reads it, 1-3 dribble hand-off, 5 ballscreens.

Billy Donovan - always keep the top open for driving angles, space away, get all the way to the sideline.

See Quick hitters - Duke actions (Exchange), Dribble-drive S-gap, Offence - Hoiberg pitch series (Pitch mix Orlando), also Chin series (1 and 2 exchange weakside).up

e) Fist inverted

A read (e.g. 4 is denied), 1 reverse or spin dribbles, 5 relocates, 4 dives to the rim, 1 reverses direction, 5 comes high, picks and rolls, 4 exits opposite 1's drive (see Fist), 3 lifts behind.

A guard-to-guard dribble-at triggers a backdoor cut.

Kickback-fist - 1-4 kickback, 5-4 ballscreen.

See Offences - Kentucky 40 series (41), High-low sets (Celtics Dive), Kentucky ballscreens, Fast breaks - Spurs 2014 (Re-set ballscreen).up

f) Dive

1 drives at 4 and keeps going, 3 reads it and lifts for a dribble hand-off, 1 pops to the corner, 5 picks and rolls, 4 clears low weakside.

See Fast breaks - Triano early offence (dive).up

g) Double-dive

1 dribbles at 4 and 3 who dive and clear out, 5 relocates and circles into a pick and roll.

Double-dive is a read if X3 denies a dribble hand-off to 3 (Dive), or 1 waves through 3 (Ravens).up

h) Quick-fist

A read. On eye contact, 2 blast cuts for a pass, 1 basket cuts and clears, 5 sprints out to pick and roll.

The screen can be flat, or angled to send 2 to the middle or baseline.

2 can drive baseline, the ballside post and corner are open.

Donovan - 1 can cut then fill behind the ballscreen, see Offence - Billy Donovan ballscreens (including action on a pass from 2 to 4).
Marc Hart - 1-2 kickup, 5 ballscreens (Fist).

See Zone set plays - Wave sidescreen.


- Cross-fist - 1 screens for 5 who sprints into the ballscreen (this can be a read if 1 puts up a fist to screen for 5).

- Lowry - if 5 is a dominant post player, look for a pass coming off the screen then pick and roll if there is no pass inside.

- 1 can cut to the ballside corner (Tom Crean - the pick and roll is automatic).

Olesen - with a dominant post player it's a good option to have 1 set a screen for 5, who can come off the screen to post up then set the wing ballscreen. Variation - 1 dribbles out 2, who sets the inside screen.

Chris Oliver - the ballscreen can be a call, or a read if 5 goes over 1's screen.
Marc Hart - 1-2 kickup, 1-5 cross-screen, 5 comes off low (Throwback).

See Offence - Dribble-drive ballscreens (cross-5 get), Fast breaks - Spurs weak.up

i) Pistol-2

A read. 1 dribble-screens for 2, makes a hand-off and pops, 5 pick and rolls, sending 2 to the middle.

Mads Olesen - pistol fist - 5 sprints up to pick and roll as 2 receives the ball from 1.

Kickback pistol - start with a 1-4 kickback (or 1-4 pass and loop cut), 4 dribble screens for 2. 1 spaces wide.

See Fast breaks - Phoenix Suns drag screens (dribble drag), Offence - Xavier middle ballscreens (Flip wide, 4-out weave), Hoiberg pitch series.up

j) Ravens

A read. X2 denies the dribble hand-off (or 1 waves through 2), 2 backcuts and clears, 5 ballscreens for 1 and rolls.

4 can dive or spot up (shown).
Variation - 4 and 3 rotate behind the drive, see Offence - Kentucky dribble-drive (Quick 1), Petitgoue dribble-drive (High), also YouTube video One X and Four X plays.

Carleton Ravens - 2 circles back to backscreen for 5 on the roll (Spain option).

Phoenix Suns - if 2 is denied a dribble hand-off, 5 sets a deep pick and roll for 1.
Options on a 1-4 pass,
- 3 backcuts (Billy Donovan)
- 3-2 pin-down into a 4-2 DHO, see YouTube video - NBA offensive concept.

See Offence - Billy Donovan ballscreens, Carleton Ravens, Zone set plays - Wave sidescreen, Chris Oliver (3 stays).up

k) Fist

A read. 1 passes to 2, stays for a return pass (instead of basket cutting), 5 sprints out to pick and roll, the ballscreen can be flat or angled, 2 flattens out. 5 can re-screen, e.g. if X1 goes under or over.

5 reads X1 to set the screen, e.g. ballscreen middle if X1 takes away sideline, ballscreen sideline if X1 takes away middle.

4 has two primary options, the first is space away and be shot ready (shown), which creates space inside for 5 on the roll. If X3 helps on 4, 4 would pass to 3.

Olesen - 1 passes to 2 and makes a replace cut, instead of cutting through he puts on the brakes and replaces himself. 5 can use misdirection, sprint up like he is going to set a screen to make 1 go middle but at the last second set it on the outside.

See Offences - Leitao 4-out 1-in motion, Tennessee playbook, also Fast breaks - Suns 5-out (fake the screen).

Or 4 can basket cut, 5 sprints up behind 4's cut to pick and roll, 4 exits opposite 1's penetration. This creates more space for 1 to drive.

Option - 4 can screen for 5 (a ram screen).

Olesen - 4 cuts through to the basket, 5 sprints right off 4's back to ballscreen on the run, and 2 drops to the corner. 4 will hesitate under the hoop then corner cut opposite 1's penetration.

Olesen - on a step-back dribble by 1, or if denied, 4 cuts to the basket then clears out opposite dribble penetration.

Calipari - high-angle fist - 1 is facing the basket, 5 comes up right at him, not sideways, the screen can be flat or angled either way. Ballside 2 fills behind, 4 can be in the weakside short corner or corner.
Raptors offence a symphony (YouTube) - shorting the pick and roll - as 1 comes off the ballscreen, 4 goes along the baseline to the strongside, allowing 5 to roll to the basket, and 4 could pass to him. A drawback is that the ballhandler can't really attack the basket.

See Fast breaks - Early ballscreens, Offences - Dribble-drive ballscreens, Kentucky dribble-drive (pullback entry), Kentucky ballscreens.

Variations - 4 sets a wide pin-down for 3, or ballscreens with 5 (a stagger, double or L-screen), loop cuts to the ballside wing, or rotates behind middle penetration (kicks back).

See Fast breaks - Phoenix Suns drag screens, Offences - Xavier middle ballscreens (wide), Tactics - Van Gundy ballscreens.

1 can call for the fist ballscreen without passing to 2, e.g. put up a fist, or call fist.

Olesen - 5 sprints up to ballscreen any time 1 calls fist.

The screen can be set in a wide slot, then 5 sends 1 to the middle (shown). With a large gap, 3 and 4 "hold the sideline", 2 fills behind.

See Quick hitters - Ravens 2015.

Kentucky (fist-loop) - 1 comes off, passes to 4 and loop cuts, 5 ballscreens.

Spain option - 2 backscreens for 5 then pops out.

Lawrence Frank - 4 keeps spacing, if he's a non-shooter, put him down on the box.
For similar action against zone defence see WABC - Pick and roll against zone.

See Tactics - Lawrence Frank ballscreens (Strong), Van Gundy ballscreens (Shake).

Early fist - 5 randomly breaks off a rim run in transition, gets below the ball to screen.
Early fist can be used if 5 rebounds and trails. 4 gets wide (shown), or rim runs then exits opposite penetration.

See Fast breaks - Phoenix Suns drag screens, also Two-Side (Rocket).up

2) Break 4 series

For random ballscreens, 4 can pass to a wing and ballscreen (Quick-drag) or follow a guard-to-guard pass (Over, see Shake and Drag for options). Progression - 4 can follow a wing dribble-at from weakside (Pistol-drag, Gator). These options can be combined with Break 5, 5 reads and stays away, or screens with 4.

a) Swing

A call or random. 1 passes to 4 and corner cuts as 5 relocates, 3 blast cuts, 4 passes and follows to pick and roll (or top pick and pop).

If 3 is pressured, 4 uses a dribble screen, 3 can backcut or get a hand-off (and 5 can ballscreen).


- on a call or read, 1 basket cuts and clears weakside, 4 can pick and pop
- 1 screens away for 2, 4 can pass to 3 and follow to ballscreen, or stagger screen with 1.

For other options (e.g. 5 makes it a double screen), see Offence - Billy Donovan ballscreens, Hoiberg pitch series.

Hoiberg - 1-4 kickback, 4 passes to 2 and follows to ballscreen.

See Fast breaks - LSU, Spurs strong, Tactics - Lawrence Frank ballscreens (swing, 1 and 2 exchange weakside), Enfield ballscreen spacing.up

b) Quick-drag

2 blast cuts, 1 passes and basket cuts, 4 picks and rolls or pops.

See Fast breaks - Billy Donovan, Nets (pass ahead - if 1 cuts to the ballside corner, 4 must pick and roll).up

c) Pistol-drag

1 dribble-screens for 2 (but can turn the corner), 4 picks and rolls, or can top pick and pop, see Quick hitters - Duke actions (exchange).
Marc Hart - 1-2 DHO, 4 ballscreens (Pistol).

Double-pistol option - see Fast breaks - 5star pro-style early offence (double-wedge).

Pistol-weave option - see Tactics - Ben Braun ballscreens (3-man weave).up

d) Gator

2 is denied on the dribble hand-off (or 1 waves through 2), 2 backcuts and clears, 4 ballscreens for 1.

Calipari - drag on the wing is elbow high, clear out the ballside corner.

San Antonio Spurs - sidescreen plus weakside step-up - on a reversal pass coming off a sidescreen, the weakside big sets a step-up ballscreen (here 5 would be lifted to screen for 3).

See Quick hitters - Ravens, Ravens 2015, Zone set plays - Florida ballscreen 3s, Offence - Billy Donovan ballscreens.up

e) Shake

A read. 2 blast cuts for a pass (flatten the defence), 1 stays or makes a replace cut (instead of a basket cut), 2 flattens on a return pass, 4 circles under the ball to pick and pop, 5 relocates.

See Fast breaks - Spurs 2007.up

f) Drag

If 1 is under pressure, or 4 is denied, or X4 is protecting in the paint, 4 ballscreens for 1 and pops, 5 relocates, enter the offence on the other side of the floor (crossing action). 4 can re-screen.

If 4 rolls, 5 comes back ballside (opening up a lob pass to 4), or replaces.
If X1 sags off 1 in transition, 4 can make a loop cut under 1 to create a triple gap (see Bollant rub cut, Oakland through).

1 can call for a drag ballscreen, e.g. point to the floor. 

Options - 1 comes off,

- keeps going to the wing into Pistol or Ravens
- throws back to 4, who can make a high-low pass, shoot, drive, run Pistol or Ravens with 2.
4 would backcut (dive) on a dribble-at.

Tom Crean - they love random screens by the trailer.
Ben Braun - optionally have 5 backscreen for 4.

Mike Neighbors - 4 picks and rolls (or slips), 5 spaces out to the short corner. 

Greg Kampe - through duck - 4 brush screens for 1, 5 ducks in as 1 comes off to the elbow.

Carleton Ravens - 1 can keep going to the wing, 5 picks and rolls, 3 backscreens for 5 (Spain option).

Dave Taylor - if 5 is the trail post, always have 5 screen down for 4 (ram screen), who runs into a ballscreen.

Roy Williams - 5 comes down and screens for 4 to switch spots.

Donovan - if first-post 4 is not a post-up guy, 5 runs into a pick and roll with 1, 4 replaces.

Andy Enfield - 5 runs to the basket every time, even if he gets the rebound. If 4 is the first big, he runs for a layup then to one side or the other on the baseline, inside 17-18 feet if he is not a 3-point shooter. (Option - 5 first screens for 4.)

See Offences - Matt Bollant dribble-drive, Carleton Ravens, Xavier middle ballscreens, Oakland dribble-drive, Fast breaks - Triano early offence, Phoenix Suns drag screens, Billy Donovan, Spurs 2014, Defence - Dave Severns ballscreens, Tactics - Ben Braun ballscreens, Schepp ballscreens.up

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2007-22 Eric Johannsen