Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

George Karl 45-54-45

George Karl
Denver Nuggets Coaching Clinic 2011,
NAU Coaches Clinic 2012

The Nuggets want to run all the time on makes and misses, wear teams down. Designate an inbounder and assign sides to the wings, run to the basket if you are ahead of or level with your defender, otherwise run to the corner. The big runs to the rim then exits to the weakside short corner. The point guard throws ahead only if a player is in position to score. They want layups, open 3s, and free throws.

The Nuggets main offence is Random, which is similar to dribble-drive, the biggest thing is spacing, the key is to penetrate gaps, make the reads, kick out and exit, attack closeouts, start moving before the catch, they want guys to take one dribble to get to the rim and go off one foot (1 dribble, 1 foot). The hardest thing to guard is random ballscreens, guys can set ballscreens at any time (they create penetration off pick-and-rolls more than Walberg teaches), Karl wants screeners to roll. He likes in-between brush screens where bigs don't know whether to step out on defence.

On defence, the Nuggets have a no-layup rule, make teams shoot tough 2s, "keep them out of the house (the paint), chase them off the fence (the 3-point line), let them play in the yard (mid-range area)". Not fouling is key to winning. Use hot closeouts for big-time shooters, cold closeouts for drivers. He lets the bigs decide how they will defend ballscreens, random coverage makes them hard to scout. Eliminate the biggest problem on the other team, e.g. Chris Paul (handle the problem).

Karl's favourite drill is 4-on-5 halfcourt to 5-on-4 fullcourt back to 4-on-5.
See Transition - 4 on 5, 5 on 4, 4 on 5.


Start with halfcourt 4-on-5, move the ball to score, develop trust in the pass, play to a score by team O or a stop by team X.


Fullcourt 5-on-4, team X must make a layup within 10 seconds, no jump shots.

coachesclipboard.ca - if team X scores within 10 seconds they get 2 points for a layup, only 1 point for a jump shot.

Karl - to teach their players how to play quick, they play a lot of 3-on-3-on-3 or 4-on-4-on-4 with a shot clock of 12 seconds or even 7 seconds, push it and play. In practice, players have to shoot, pass, or attack within 3 seconds of catching the ball (catch and go) or it's a turnover. You can play with the ball if you attack the defence.
See Scrimmage - 4 on 4 on 4.


4-on-5, team O just has to get the ball past halfcourt against fullcourt pressure.

Teams swap roles, repeat.
See Pressing - Tennessee 55 reaction.up

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2007-17 Eric Johannsen