Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Fast breaks
Early dribble-drive screens

Early ballscreens in dribble-drive motion.

In transition, 1 is the point guard, 2 sprints wide right, 3 sprints wide left, 5 rim runs and 4 is the trailer except if 5 gets a defensive rebound, then 4 is the first big. 1 looks for a headman pass to 2, 3 or 5.

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.

Break 5 series - Loop, Butler, Hawk, Pistol, Dive, Double-dive (and fist inverted), Quick-fist (and Cross-fist, Lowry), Pistol-2 (and Kickback pistol), Ravens, Fist (and Early fist).

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

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.

Variation - 1 passes and follows to ballscreen (Over).
Kickback-swing-loop - start with a 1-4 kickback to 4-1 swing pass, 4 loop cuts, 5 ballscreens for 1 (Kentucky).
Use a kickback entry to disguise early ballscreens and have 1 and 4 switch positions.

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).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 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, he clears to the weakside corner on a dribble screen; if 1 corner cuts, break if off and exit opposite.
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), Offence - Hoiberg pitch series (Pitch mix Orlando), also Chin series (1 and 2 exchange weakside).up

e) Dive

A read. 4 is denied, 1 reverse or spin dribbles, 5 relocates, 4 dives to the rim, 1 looks for a lob pass, 3 breaks up, 5 comes up, 1 passes to 3 and spaces away, 5 picks and rolls, 4 clears low weakside.
A guard-to-guard dribble-at triggers a backdoor cut.

Variation - 4 dives and posts, see Offence - Kentucky 40 series (44), Fast breaks - Larry Brown (dive post), Triano early offence (dive), Quick hitters - Duke actions (Up).

Option - 1 keeps going to dribble hand-off with 3, pops to the corner, 5 picks and rolls.
See Offence - High-low sets (4-flip).up

f) Double-dive

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

Double dive is a read if X3 denies a dribble hand-off to 3, or 1 waves through 3.
Fist inverted - 1 dribbles at 4 who dives, 5 comes high into a pick and roll with 1.

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

g) 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).
See Zone set plays - Wave sidescreen.up


- 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.

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

h) 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

i) 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).

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.
Donovan - 3 would backcut on a 1-4 pass.

j) 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 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.

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), or loop cuts to the ballside wing.

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.
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..

See Fast breaks - Phoenix Suns drag screens.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).
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 (or replaces).
Ben Braun - optionally have 5 backscreen for 4.

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

1 can call for a drag ballscreen, e.g. if 4 or 2 is denied (without passing to 2).
Options - 1 comes off,
- keeps going to the wing into Pistol or Ravens
- throws back to 4, who can make a high-low pass, drive, run Pistol or Ravens with 2, or pass and sprint into a Swing ballscreen.

Tom Crean - they love random screens by the trailer.
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.

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2007-17 Eric Johannsen