NBA

Utah Jazz 5-Out Breakdown

The Utah Jazz have the best record in the Western Conference and the number 2 offense in the NBA and are rolling along like usual. We have heard this story before, nothing new right? Oh, except that the Jazz traded away their 3 best players and was supposed to be tanking but instead decided to run a modern 5-Out offense that helped eliminate them the past few postseasons and are blending good NBA players into a great early season start.


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Currently the Utah Jazz have the #2 overall offense in the NBA running 5-Out and spacing the floor looking for 3 point shots – ranking 5th in frequency and 6th in accuracy. However they are not just standing around shooting 3s, they cut well off the ball, drive and kick effectively, and are 4th in offensive rebounding %, grabbing back 31.1% of their missed shots. In addition to this the Jazz are 4th in the NBA in transition points added, running off both steals and live ball rebounds with 5-Out spacing.

Spacing

5-Out

The Jazz space the floor in 5-Out with their starting lineup and use the skillsets of Markannen, Olynyk, and Vanderbilt as elite connectors, creators, and scorers to ensure spacing is maintained. Guard play from Conley, Clarkson, Sexton & Beasley ensures the Jazz can attack any defensive coverage and create chances for good shots.

When driving, the way the help reacts is much different from the beautiful spacing the Jazz always maintains. Here the slot drive draws corner help from Capela, and that advantage is maintained with an extra pass to Conley and ending up with the 3 ball from Markannen.

Drives

The constant spacing and movement allow for downhill driving lanes and you can see when the defense collapses on these drives the kicks are open.

Another example of maintaining advantages and moving the ball, the extra pass allows THT to attack the closeout with the defense scrambling for the layup.

Backdoors

A huge benefit of this spacing is the paint remaining open so with the floor spaced, it allows room for backdoor cuts.

Cut Into Space

The Jazz also have high IQ players who recognize when to cut into space and the passers to recognize when to pass it to them.

Finishing Cuts & Rolls

Here in early offense, Vanderbilt is looking for a ball screen then dives right to the rim with a basket cut. Not only does this create a driving lane but he then makes himself available for the drop-off pass. His defender has to recognize this in transition defense and then stop the ball but no help can come because players are concerned with the spacing.

This creates 4-out spacing randomly and gives the defense different looks, something that the Jazz will look for often when Walker Kessler is in the game with their second unit.

3 Side Dives

The Utah Jazz will run actions with one side of the floor empty with 3 players on one side of the court. When they run any actions with this spacing the player spaced in the middle of the 3 or at the “45” break will be the player who either screen or cut into space. Here Sexton recognizes gap help at the nail and flare screens for a 3 point shot.

In this clip, he initially looks for the same screen, but when space opens up he makes himself available for the pass and finish.

Paired Cutters

On any drives the Jazz have the option to make themselves available for the pass with their “Paired Cutter” concept. When driving baseline the Jazz look for players filling space from the opposite wing and slot cutting as the drive takes place.

On any slot drives, the players on the baseline will cut behind the help (also called “Burn” or “Wade” cuts).

Stampedes

When the Jazz drive and kick a big part of the way they attack closeouts are “Stampedes” or a drive through the pass.

This is a concept the Jazz ran under Snyder so it makes sense this carries over to this years team.

Actions

Pins

Pindowns are not anything new or crazy, but the way the Jazz use them is fun and interesting, using guards to screen down for players like Markannen. Using these guars presents problems and is a creative way to attack bad defenders like in this example where they use Trae Young’s defender to set the pindown.

Ghost Screens

I love ghost screens. I will continue to talk about ghost screens in pretty much every breakdown for every team that runs them, but another creative way the Jazz create advantages by having guards set them for players like Markannen and Olynyk to get a downhill drive.

Flare Screens

I now know where the Boston Celtics got the idea to use more flare screens as the playoffs because the Jazz under Hardy LOVE to run these flare screens in their 5-Out motion.

Keeps

Kelly Olynyk really enjoys faking a dribble handoff, and one of the best ways to fool opposing defenses is to fake the handoff and attack.

Barkleys

Using the size of some of their bigger wings when defenses try to switch or early in cross-match scenarios, the Jazz will back down their defenders with a dribble into a post-up.

Ballscreen – Speed Rolls

Running basic pick-and-roll action works with great screeners and rollers like Rudy Gobert or Luka Doncic but the Jazz doesn’t always run typical screen and rolls as they have previously. When they involve their screeners in the action (typically whoever the big on the other team is defending) they will run a couple of different roller actions. Here the “Speed Roll” or a step-up screen with a quick dive almost with no contact, this creates a short roll look to a skip pass for a corner 3 because the low man guarding the corner has to help on the quick roll.

Ballscreens – Stay Rolls

When teams switch ballscreens the Jazz will look for “Stay Rolls” (Another concept from previous seasons) or roll behind the switch keeping the defender on the high side.

Ballscreens – Hunt Big

Typically set with Vanderbilt as the ballscreener, whoever the big is guarding becomes the ballscreener and either roll or pop depending on the player or situations.

Ballscreens – Step Ups

A way they get these ballscreen advantages organically is to set step up screens in early offense in the chaos creating defensive breakdowns.

They will also use these in “21” actions to create driving lanes and flowing into 5-Out.

Ballscreens – Empty

I mentioned the Empty Ballscrens earlier with the “3 Side Dive” concept but the Jazz love to run Empty Ballscreens.

These ballscreens in particular are difficult to defend since the roller is accounted for from the opposite corner, where teams don’t want to give up corner 3s so it puts extra stress on the defense. Where it get’s fun is the Jazz will also continue this action to a second side ballscreen to a step up and force the defense to continue to defend these actions.

Sets & Concepts

Top Flare

A way the Jazz free up shooters and advantages is to set flare screens at the top of the key especially with the bigs defender. Here Capela is guarding Vanderbilt again and has a tendency to sag so when the defender on Beasley goes under, he screens two players at once and opens up the 3 point shot.

Top Flare (Hand-Off Entry)

A set the Jazz run with this same concept is to go into a quick dribble hand off and then into a Flare screen. Why does the hand off matter? Players in the NBA tend to focus on the off-ball action and forget about their man – watch Zubac’s head her paying attention to the hand off and not helping on the Flare screen.

Spread Pop Elbow Flare

An ATO special here where the Jazz design Flare action is to pop the big around the Elbow and then set the Flare screen into a dribble hand off.

Flip

Fip action. Love it and have talked about this action a lot, a quick flip guard to guard forces tough defensive coverages and allows more room to attack.

Oh, and the Jazz also becomes an incredible offensive team when they start going to a flip action back into a another flip into a ballscreen in early offense. Just seems unfair to do this to the Lakers at this point.

Horns Out Elbow Split

Adding this set to the Jazz’s playbook this year allows guards to run split action into hand offs and keep action. It starts off with the player getting the pass screen and then open up at the elbow.

Then it goes into split cut action with spacing that allows for slips to the rim.

If the initial hand-off after is denied, this will then flow into another hand off and then ballscreen/5-Out action.

 

Ram Shallow

A great concept I initially saw from Fenerbahce where the player who screened away for the ballscreener then cuts through underneath without setting a screen on anyone. Watch here how Beasley screens for KO then cuts through the nail creating confusion and a downhill driving lane.

Conley gets a wide open 3 here in the midst of the chaos where even refs can miss illegal screens.

Shallow Concepts

They have also used this action in their 5-Out flow offense, showing off more IQ and intelligence when playing random. Clarkson follows KO here and shallow cuts as the drive vs extra gap help allows the open 3.

Another example here where they run the “Ram Shallow” action empty.

Transition Offense

Run to Corners

The Jazz currently has the 4th best transition offense, a vastly different change in pace and play after ranking 27th in transition offense last season. One specific thing the Jazz are focusing on and emphasizing running to the corners looking for transition corner 3s.

While not a new concept this takes advantage of longer closeouts and combining their 5-out spacing while everyone is trying to recover it allows for drives to the rim.

Flip

The Utah Jazz are also running “Flip” action in transition, which is even harder to defend since trailers in transition are usually open with the other team defending the paint first.

This also opens up chances to attack bigs or a mismatch in transition by having random players bring the ball up just like Vanderbilt here flipping to Beasley with Gobert on defense.


Early Offense

The Jazz don’t do anything too crazy in transition, we will see the normal 5-out actions just like Markannen here backing down a smaller defender – Barkleys.

A flip here in semi transition when the play is settled the cross match here allows Beasley to hit the 3.

This is the main area the Jazz will look for a post up with players like Gay & Olynyk getting a cross match and posting them up.

The main areas of attack for the Jazz are through the slots and the wings, with players being able to attack while the defense is getting settled in and typically not ready to help.

The Utah Jazz runs one of the better 5-Out offenses I have seen at the NBA level and have a perfect blend of spacing, IQ, decision-making, creating and connectors.


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When you are watching the NBA this season and anything stands out to you or you want to see included in these breakdowns let me know and I will include them! Thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.

Outwork Yesterday

Coach Pyper

Minnesota Timberwolves Offense Breakdown

The Minnesota Timberwolves are adjusting to the Two-Big life, and it is not going great – at least on the offensive end. Although they have many underlying issues that are causing these problems, the most significant impact on their offensive efficiency is the lack of playmaking, creation, and flow on the offensive end, especially with both Gobert & KAT on the floor at the same time. Throughout this breakdown, I will be referencing stats taken either from Cleaning the Glass or from my own film breakdown and analysis through 11/4.


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Currently, the most used Timberwolves lineup is their starting lineup of Russell/Edwards/McDaniels/Gobert/Towns that have logged 282 possessions on the court – roughly 31% of their 912 possessions so far this season. The Timberwolves starting 5 is currently 3rd in the NBA for most used lineups and ranks as the 6th worst efficient lineup of all lineups with at least 100 possessions played (More rough news for Nets/Mavs – touching more about that this week). This lineup has a Net Rating of -10.7, with an offensive efficiency of 96.8 (YIKES!!) and defensive efficiency of 107.5.

If we took those numbers and ranked them compared to where the league currently would be the worst offense by 6 points per 100 possessions and the 3rd best defense. Gobert impacting the defense makes sense, he essentially has consistently anchored top-10 defenses for the past 6 seasons. The offensive numbers are more concerning with the fit being only a part of the issues that the Timberwolves are seeing on the court. When adding any new players the initial 10-15 games are always slightly weird, so this could all change as time and familiarity increase as well.

The overall numbers are rough, but where it gets really interesting is the dynamic when one of the Gobert/KAT pairing is off the court.

Gobert On/KAT Off: 202.2 Off, 100.0 Def — 179 total Poss, most used lineup 19 poss.

KAT On/Gobert Off: 116.5 Off, 119.2 Def — 255 total Poss, most used lineup 19 poss.

If it isn’t clear by the numbers when Gobert is on the Timberwolves’ defense is ELITE and the offense stinks. When KAT is on the floor the Timberwolves’ offense is ELITE, but their defense stinks. This is the crux of the issue for the Timberwolves, how to blend and balance two ELITE forces that are currently polar opposites when it comes to becoming ELITE.

Two-Big Issues

I touched on decision-making struggles, but the main problem I noticed when watching the film was the creation and flow (or lack of) of the offense.

On top of this, the only above-average players on the team when it comes to their Ast/Usage are KAT & McLaughin, meaning DeAngelo Russell and Anthony Edwards handle the ball a ton but are not creating a lot for others compared to their usage. Interesting stat – Gobert has his lowest Assisted Rate since 2015-16.

When KAT attacks or ISOs, Gobert is clogging space so on drives his man can just help in the lane knowing that KAT isn’t going to be able to make all of the passes he needs to yet.

KAT has a slight advantage with their “Burn” cut for a lob, but the pass is…well bad.

Bad passes like this lead to stagnant offense where the ball isn’t even piercing the 3 point line.

If Gobert sets a ballscreen, which is his strongest asset on offense, then KAT and most of the time Anthony Edwards are just standing and watching a D’Angelo Rossell/Gobert pick and roll.

Another interesting thing that is an issue is when running Double Ballscreens, sometimes both roll instead of having KAT pop and Gobert roll.

Anthony Edwards ended last season on a tear and part of this was the 5-Out spacing that he was provided with KAT at center, something that is obviously gone with the addition of Gobert.

It now becomes really important for Ant and KAT to be paired together to get the most out of Ant, but then this also takes away opportunities for him to run the offense alone without another high-usage player.

The solution that Finch and staff seemed to find was pairing Ant with Naz Reid who has been really good in the chances he has had (+20 on/off differential, & 176 possessions with him on the court a +17 Net Rating).

4 Out

Spacing

Typical 4-Out alignment that the Timberwolves will flow into with both bigs on the floor, filling the slots and the corners with Gobert rim running and then settling into the dunkers spot.

Trailer

One of the main areas the offense has looked great is early offense before the defense can get set, especially KAT trailing the play looking for shots.

Trailer Flip

A good action they flow into is a quick flip for KAT, then flowing out of their offense from there.

Trailer Swing

KAT can look for scoring & attacking chances, and then flow into a side hand off/ballscreen action for players on the reversal.

Drive & Kicks

Then they will flow into drive and kick game looking to attack gaps and be able to pierce the paint on drives.

Drive Reactions

When they do get into the paint, notice how Gobert & the offense reacts. Here he “T’s Up” or finds space behind the defense to be available for drop-off passes and force the defense to collapse low.

5 Out

Spacing

In 5-Out the Timberwoles replace the dunkers spot with a player in the middle of the floor, as we can see how they flow in early offense with KAT trailing now in the middle of the floor.

5 Out Drives

In 5-Out the driving opportunities create different help scenarios that make it much harder to react after the help, notice here how the decision is simpler – either shoot it or move it for the extra pass.

Cutters

This spacing also allows open chances for cutting into space and backdoor opportunities for easier layups.

Ball Movement

The ball movement and player movement have been SO much better in the 5-out alignment and it seems like the players function better with these passing opportunities.

Ghost

More creative actions with their second unit especially, here we can see a ghost screen that creates space and movement for the layup.

Wide Dribble

The main advantage of playing 5-Out is KAT & Ant in space which allows them to attack the rim without bodies in the way.

The Timberrvoles have mixed in some of the normal 5-Out actions such as this wide dribble look but notice again how KAT/Ant are just spaced in the corner and not involved in the play at all.

Post Concept – Burn & Dive

The most interesting thing that I wanted to see was what happened when they posted up KAT with Gobert on the floor. The Timberwolves are using two concepts in tandem that look to create chances when Gobert touches the ball in the post and especially when teams come with traps. The opposite corner will “Burn” cut or cut on the baseline to the basket.

At the same time Gobert will set a flare scene for the player who entered the ball into the post, and then dive to the rim.

What this creates is rim pressure on the backside, then Gobert diving forces cutting help and usually this will lead to the opposite wing being open for 3-point chances.

Pop & Slash

When the Timberwolves go to their 5-Out lineups they love to go to this “Pop & Slash” concept where they pick and pop intentionally and then have the next player “Cut the Pop” backdoor into the lane looking for layups.

This then flows into a second side hand off or ballscreen empty look.

ATO Delay Chicago Flare

A special set for KAT this starts off in “Delay” or 5-Out with the pass to the middle of the floor and then Chicago action or a pindown into a hand off.

Gobert then turns and sets a flare screen for KAT to look to get a shot.

ATO Delay Runner

Another special out of Delay, the Timberwolves set this up with a pass to the middle and then a downscreen for the player in the corner.

The player coming off the downscreen curls into the lane and becomes the first screener.

Opposite corner the shooter sneaks inside and then comes off a double screen on the baseline looking for a shot.

ATO Miami Elbow

The Timberwolves love to start off sets with a side hand off and going into the next action, where I call a hand off into a ballscreen “Miami.”

After Time Outs they then throw it to a flashing elbow and screen for the opposite wing to come off a hand off.

This was a Warriors set they ran a ton with the addition of Kevin Durant.

ATO Miami Elbow Duck

They run multiple counters out of this action, where instead of flashing to the elbow they try to get KAT on the duck in.

Notice how he gets pushed off his spot and the play stalls out, forcing a much tougher look but good dish to Gobert for the foul.

ATO Miami Elbow Exit Punch

Instead of flashing a player to the Elbow, the Timberwolves use the player that handed the ball off first as a baseline runner to get the ball to the post.

As Russell comes off here he then enters the ball into the post for KAT to get a post touch.

ATO Miami Elbow ISO

I am not a huge fan of this action, but getting the player flashing to the Elbow as a playmaker or scorer the Timberwolves get Anthony Edwards the ball here. With Gobert spacing low he sets a great screen to free up the corner 3 when help comes.

Delay Zoom

A 2-man game concept the Timberwolves use often, they throw the ball to the middle of the floor and then have options to backdoor, hand it back or play 2-man ballscreen action.

This also opened up chances for keeps and attacks from KAT.

They have run this action with Gobert and KAT on the court at the same time, but it is not as impactful since the defense can just load up in the paint on drives.

Flip Angle

The Timberwolves run this “Flip” action or a quick hand off into a ballscreen to create some chaos on the defensive end.

Running a basic ballscreen then flows into either a 4-Out or 5-Out attack depending on personnel on the floor.

Horns Out

When the Timberwolves are looking to go to Anthony Edwards for scoring looks, they run what I call Horns Out but it looks like the Timberwolves signal as Fist Side 3, or Side 3 here.

The play is simply at it’s core, Ant comes off a screen around the elbow to an empty wing with the first option to attack directly off it.

If the initial attack is stopped or the defense forces the ball back inside (like the Thunder here), then it goes into an empty ballscreen.

Horns Flare 5

A special for KAT, out of Horns he sets the first ballscreen and then comes off a flare screen from Gobert. Here we can see part of the issue as why some sets aren’t working right now with teams electing to switch any action that involves KAT/Gobert then sending extra help.

Miami

I touched on the basic Miami action, but it is a hand off into a ballscreen and used to setup multiple counters.

Miami Delay

One of those counters is to go into “Delay” action or 5-Out no matter who is on the floor to create some movement, as here Gobert keeps the hand off and goes right into side action.

It seems like Finch and the staff run this when they get upset with some of the stagnant offense that tends to occur.

Miami Pin

They also run this Miami action with a weakside pindown for a shooter.

Miami Ricky

Another good counter is to rescreen for the player who initially handed the ball off, so here Russell gets a rescreen and then goes into a ballscreen.

Strong

Not as common, but the Timberwolves do go to strong or stagger action for a player int the corner as seen here called out with the “point” signal.

Strong Fan

A great counter built into this set is to “Fan” or “Flare” screen the first screener when KAT/Gobert are the screeners.


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When you are watching the NBA this season and anything stands out to you or you want to see included in these breakdowns let me know and I will include them! Thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.

Outwork Yesterday

Coach Pyper

Washington Wizards X’s & O’s

The Wizards’ offense is actually kind of fun even though the numbers don’t do it justice and their 5-out actions have been impressive. Shot selection is undoubtedly an interesting choice that needs improvement to increase their eFG% and offensive efficiency – but their After Time Out plays have been a blast to look at again this season.


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Throughout this film and sets breakdown, I was trying to look at actions that were unique and good that the Wizards will look to go to moving forward and also point out some issues to pay attention to fix in the future.

ATO – AI Ricky

A typical counter to the normal “AI Rip” action, the Wizards run this paly slightly different than what most teams will. Beal starts off cutting off the Iverson screen from wing to wing and cutting off a backscreen from Porzingis.

 

As Beal comes off the backscreen he then comes off a rescreen in the middle of the floor toward the nail – this angle is not as typical and running it tighter forces tougher defensive coverages.

The Wizards also run this action into a pindown counter for Porzingis.

ATO – Horns Chicago Ricky

Instead of setting up out of normal Horns with both players waiting at the elbows, the Wizards free up the entry with a downscreen for the player to catch the pass easier.

Once the ball is entered to the elbow the point guard cuts through the lane and the player who screened for the entry then screens away for the wing.

This goes into a hand off (pindown into hand off is what I term Chicago action), with options to score off the first downhill drive.

When the drive is covered/denied, or if the Wizards want to try and free up Beal they will look for the screen action from the player who handed the ball off.

ATO – Blind Pig

A TON of action that goes into setting up a skip hand off for Beal, or blind pig action. Starting off with a zippper screen for Beal to catch the ball in the middle of the floor, then a backscreen for the passer.

As the point guard screens inside for the big the ball is passed to the player at the wing.

Then Morris opens up and receives a pass behind Beal when he is being pressured & denied for a quick downhill hand off.

ATO – “Exit” Specials

Perhaps the most common action out of timeouts and by teams looking for great action, the “Exit” screen is designed for shooters to cut to the corner and to take away any help defense on the rolls to the rim.

The Wizards have multiple variations of this action after time out with different setups and looks. The timing of these sets have been off a little, something that will be ironed out with time, but the first example is a good look vs switching defenses. Flowing out of a downscreen into a double ballscreen, Rui sneaks on the baseline as the ballscreen is occurring.

Notice how the Wizards set this up to screen their own man on the baseline exit screen here opening up a corner 3.

An example of the struggle in some of these sets, here the baseline exit screen isn’t even set, taking away a good scoring chance after time out.

If teams try and switch, the Wizards will look for this action to get the player rolling to the rim after a ballscreen and have the other big lift into the middle of the floor looking for the baseline exit shot.

ATO – Stagger Back 5

I love this set and action even though the play wasn’t run the best, starting off with a ghost “touch” screen from Beal to pop to the wing and come off a step-up screen.

This is decoy action to have Beal drive baseline and set a double stagger back screen for Porzingis.

Notice here how Beal doesn’t create enough space baseline to create a better sell on the stagger back action.

Flip

The Wizards run this quick hitting slot to slot flip action for Kuzma & Beal to look for slot attacks out of.

An option they have is to flash a player to the elbow and go into 2-man game as well.

Flip Hunts

In crunch time and must-score situations, the Wizards will run the flip action and then go into a 21/step up screen with the player they are trying to attack with Beal.

Horns Out Clear

The most common action for Beal is to look for this Horns Out action, emptying out one side of the floor. Clearing out the side of the floor and Beal cutting off a quick screen around the elbow allows for driving opportunities off the catch.

If the drive is cut off then Beal can ISO or use a ballscreen from the player he came off of.


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When you are watching the NBA this season and anything stands out to you or you want to see included in these breakdowns let me know and I will include them! Thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.

Outwork Yesterday

Coach Pyper

Los Angeles Lakers Offense Breakdown

Dame Time after a late push against the Lakers. Simons 22 points in the 3rd vs Denver. Late game magic from Simons against the Suns. A comeback fight against the Kings in the opener. The Trail Blazers are 4-0 and 1st in the NBA and rolling with a MUCH improved defense. In this breakdown, we are going to look at some of their offensive sets, X’s & O’s, and what they are doing on defense to take other teams best sets away.


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Note: I am not going to dive into too many stats since 4 game sample size is not enough information.

An encouraging stat I am referencing and paying attention to is the small ball lineups – so far are +26.7 in 30 possessions, not nearly enough time to make a definitive statement but Winslow at center has been a fantastic move and something to keep an eye on.

Early Offense

In early offense, the Trail Blazers look for a couple of quick-hitting actions but mainly this is focused around Drag ball screens for Dame & Ant.

They do have the option to look for skips, slot attacks and occasionaly Grant in post up situations if he has an early cross match and the advantage in the post.

One of the things I love about Dame is when Simons had it going they went right into Wide action, a screen for him in early offense in the middle of the floor.

The Trail Blazers call this action “Quick” for a quick screen in the middle of the floor.

Spread Ballscreen Attack

As I mentioned above, the Trail Blazers’ primary form of attack is going to be going to Dame & Simons in spread pick-and-roll action – although they are making it a priority to get Dame off the ball more this year.

Last season the Trail Blazers’ possessions ended in a ball screen 31% of the time and they are exactly the same so far this year, finding a good balance between Simons and Dame splitting the handling duties.

They have also used Grant to screen for Dame, looking for short roll opportunities and getting two on the ball to create an advantage.

Double Fist “77” Playcall

I caught this playcall from Chauncey for what the Trail Blazers call Double Fist action – “77.”

Most teams use similar numbers, so the Trail Blazers likely call single or Drag ballscreens “7s” so the double ballscreen would be “77” for 2 players involved.

Double Fist Knicks

A set that Chauncey took from Ty Lue and his time with the Clippers that is great flow action off the normal Double Fist action. After the player (typically Dame) comes off the last ballscreen he hits the first screener on the pop.

This swings into a hand off on the wing, where they do have an option to attack off of but normally this isn’t the flow of the play.

Swinging the ball quickly back to the point guard and going into a step up ballscreen, creates side-to-side movement and makes the defense guard multiple actions.

Double Fist Knicks – Elbow

If the point guard is denied (or called set, hard to tell from just film), they pass it to the Elbow and run split cut action in the corner with options for reads. Here Dame gets the slip against the Suns:

Another option they have screening for the corner is to curl, and then it all ends up in a hand off from the big to roll.

Slice Playcall

Mike D’Antoni used this set all the time in his 7 seconds or less team and the Phoenix Suns, as well as Scott Brooks with the Thunder & Doc Rivers with the Celtics/Clippers. With Brooks on staff, the Trail Blazers run this play they call “Slice” to look for a post-up for Grant.

I am not sure if this is a designed call, but it can flow into a downscreen/ballscreen action for the point guard if the post-up is denied.

Stack

Common action to free up a player and go into a ballscreen, they run this set for Dame & Ant as an alternate setup for the spread ballscreen.

ATOs

Punch Strong Boston

Multiple entries into this action, this can be extremely hard to guard for teams when they play the Trail Blazers. Designed with a double stagger screen off the post, the first player intentionally curls into the lane and the second player comes off a screen from a big.

Cross Entry

Setting this up with a basic cross screen, this is entered to a big around the elbow and a cross screen for the player into the post.

Horns Entry

Trail Blazers start this set out of Horns where the wing and the player who set the ballscreen both screen low for Grant to catch the ball in the post.

SOB Entry

Since they post up players normally out of Sideline out of Bounds, adding this action makes it even harder to guard. This is setup by a first screen around the elbow to get the ball into the post.

Defensive System

The Trail Blazers ranked 29th in the NBA last season in defensive efficiency, only 0.6PPP behind the Rockets for dead last in the NBA. To say they needed an improvement on that end would be a massive understatement & I covered how their defensive ballscreen scheme was very poorly designed.

They tweaked their system and added good defensive players while still missing Gary Payton II, and it has paid off early with the Trail Blazers currently sitting at 10th early on (way too early obviously) and they are really winning the foul game by drawing a ton of fouls on offense and not fouling on defense.

In transition, this picture says it all – the communication level has been outstanding and exactly what every coach wants to see.

At Level

Last season the Trail Blazers was having Nurkic hedge, which means he was playing higher up and showing his body as the ballhandler comes off – not a strength of his in my opinion.

The tweak this season has been to have both Nurkic & Eubanks at the level of the screen and then retreat as the ball is being driven or the big rolling.

Although this does force a low tag and more help than what other teams have when playing drop coverage and keeping the ball 2 on 2, the Trail Blazers’ ballscreen defense has been much better.

Help In Gaps

Combining the coverage with how the Trail Blazers are helping has really helped keep the ball out of the lane on direct drives as well as allow the help to create havoc through steals. When any drive or ballscreen is set you will see the Trail Blazers try to shrink the floor by always having players in the gaps.

Notice how as the ball is being driven in this empty ballscreen scenario the guard cannot turn the corner because of the player at the nail.

Zone Defense

My favorite part about the Trail Blazers defense this season is their 2-3 zone and how they really screw up teams sets and After Time Out Plays. This is definitely influenced by the Miami Heat, so I will link that below if you want to check out some of that in the origin of this defense.

2-3 Zone

The Trail Blazers play a normal 2-3 zone with 2 players up top that typically have length (Grant up top especially) and 3 players low with the big in the middle and 2 wings/guards spaced out near the 3 point line.

When they run zone it is designed to do a couple of things – stagnate the offense, take sets away, and force shots taken in the least efficient spots – the high post and above the break 3s.

No real rules from what I could tell, but the major tweak the Trail Blazers use it to “ICE” the ballscreen when teams try to screen the zone.

The reason for this is because teams will try to ballscreen the top of the zone and create an overload situation to play 3 on 2 on the weakside.

So when the ballscreen is set and the Trail Blazers ICE it, the ball is kept on the sideline and forced away from the angle that they want to set it.

2-2-1 Into 2-3 Zone

After Time Out plays are so much fun. They can be more efficient and impactful than normal sets because they can be brand new so that a defense does not know which play is coming, unlike normal sets and calls that they can have scouted. Check out this play from the Suns – LOVE it.

The Trail Blazers take these sets away, as you can see here with the Suns just running ballscreen action – but mainly going to a 2-3 zone in After Time Out Situations and lining up in a 2-2-1 to slow them down even more.

Going 2-2-1 back into a 2-3 means the offense has to take time off the shot clock just to even setup, this means a play or action might start with 10-12 seconds left on the shot clock.

When shooting free throws they will also set up the 2-2-1 press, a scheme that is great because this is the next situation in which teams will set up plays and have time to call out sets to setup and run.

In total the Trail Blazers are doing a great job taking away teams After Time Out sets, currently ranking 4th in After Time Out defense, going primarily zone has really helped this.


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When you are watching the NBA this season and anything stands out to you or you want to see included in these breakdowns let me know and I will include them! Thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.

Outwork Yesterday

Coach Pyper

Portland Trail Blazers X’s & O’s

Dame Time after a late push against the Lakers. Simons 22 points in the 3rd vs Denver. Late game magic from Simons against the Suns. A comeback fight against the Kings in the opener. The Trail Blazers are 4-0 and 1st in the NBA and rolling with a MUCH improved defense. In this breakdown, we are going to look at some of their offensive sets, X’s & O’s, and what they are doing on defense to take other teams best sets away.


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Note: I am not going to dive into too many stats since 4 game sample size is not enough information.

An encouraging stat I am referencing and paying attention to is the small ball lineups – so far are +26.7 in 30 possessions, not nearly enough time to make a definitive statement but Winslow at center has been a fantastic move and something to keep an eye on.

Early Offense

In early offense, the Trail Blazers look for a couple of quick-hitting actions but mainly this is focused around Drag ball screens for Dame & Ant.

They do have the option to look for skips, slot attacks and occasionaly Grant in post up situations if he has an early cross match and the advantage in the post.

One of the things I love about Dame is when Simons had it going they went right into Wide action, a screen for him in early offense in the middle of the floor.

The Trail Blazers call this action “Quick” for a quick screen in the middle of the floor.

Spread Ballscreen Attack

As I mentioned above, the Trail Blazers’ primary form of attack is going to be going to Dame & Simons in spread pick-and-roll action – although they are making it a priority to get Dame off the ball more this year.

Last season the Trail Blazers’ possessions ended in a ball screen 31% of the time and they are exactly the same so far this year, finding a good balance between Simons and Dame splitting the handling duties.

They have also used Grant to screen for Dame, looking for short roll opportunities and getting two on the ball to create an advantage.

Double Fist “77” Playcall

I caught this playcall from Chauncey for what the Trail Blazers call Double Fist action – “77.”

Most teams use similar numbers, so the Trail Blazers likely call single or Drag ballscreens “7s” so the double ballscreen would be “77” for 2 players involved.

Double Fist Knicks

A set that Chauncey took from Ty Lue and his time with the Clippers that is great flow action off the normal Double Fist action. After the player (typically Dame) comes off the last ballscreen he hits the first screener on the pop.

This swings into a hand off on the wing, where they do have an option to attack off of but normally this isn’t the flow of the play.

Swinging the ball quickly back to the point guard and going into a step up ballscreen, creates side-to-side movement and makes the defense guard multiple actions.

Double Fist Knicks – Elbow

If the point guard is denied (or called set, hard to tell from just film), they pass it to the Elbow and run split cut action in the corner with options for reads. Here Dame gets the slip against the Suns:

Another option they have screening for the corner is to curl, and then it all ends up in a hand off from the big to roll.

Slice Playcall

Mike D’Antoni used this set all the time in his 7 seconds or less team and the Phoenix Suns, as well as Scott Brooks with the Thunder & Doc Rivers with the Celtics/Clippers. With Brooks on staff, the Trail Blazers run this play they call “Slice” to look for a post-up for Grant.

I am not sure if this is a designed call, but it can flow into a downscreen/ballscreen action for the point guard if the post-up is denied.

Stack

Common action to free up a player and go into a ballscreen, they run this set for Dame & Ant as an alternate setup for the spread ballscreen.

ATOs

Punch Strong Boston

Multiple entries into this action, this can be extremely hard to guard for teams when they play the Trail Blazers. Designed with a double stagger screen off the post, the first player intentionally curls into the lane and the second player comes off a screen from a big.

Cross Entry

Setting this up with a basic cross screen, this is entered to a big around the elbow and a cross screen for the player into the post.

Horns Entry

Trail Blazers start this set out of Horns where the wing and the player who set the ballscreen both screen low for Grant to catch the ball in the post.

SOB Entry

Since they post up players normally out of Sideline out of Bounds, adding this action makes it even harder to guard. This is setup by a first screen around the elbow to get the ball into the post.

Defensive System

The Trail Blazers ranked 29th in the NBA last season in defensive efficiency, only 0.6PPP behind the Rockets for dead last in the NBA. To say they needed an improvement on that end would be a massive understatement & I covered how their defensive ballscreen scheme was very poorly designed.

They tweaked their system and added good defensive players while still missing Gary Payton II, and it has paid off early with the Trail Blazers currently sitting at 10th early on (way too early obviously) and they are really winning the foul game by drawing a ton of fouls on offense and not fouling on defense.

In transition, this picture says it all – the communication level has been outstanding and exactly what every coach wants to see.

At Level

Last season the Trail Blazers was having Nurkic hedge, which means he was playing higher up and showing his body as the ballhandler comes off – not a strength of his in my opinion.

The tweak this season has been to have both Nurkic & Eubanks at the level of the screen and then retreat as the ball is being driven or the big rolling.

Although this does force a low tag and more help than what other teams have when playing drop coverage and keeping the ball 2 on 2, the Trail Blazers’ ballscreen defense has been much better.

Help In Gaps

Combining the coverage with how the Trail Blazers are helping has really helped keep the ball out of the lane on direct drives as well as allow the help to create havoc through steals. When any drive or ballscreen is set you will see the Trail Blazers try to shrink the floor by always having players in the gaps.

Notice how as the ball is being driven in this empty ballscreen scenario the guard cannot turn the corner because of the player at the nail.

Zone Defense

My favorite part about the Trail Blazers defense this season is their 2-3 zone and how they really screw up teams sets and After Time Out Plays. This is definitely influenced by the Miami Heat, so I will link that below if you want to check out some of that in the origin of this defense.

2-3 Zone

The Trail Blazers play a normal 2-3 zone with 2 players up top that typically have length (Grant up top especially) and 3 players low with the big in the middle and 2 wings/guards spaced out near the 3 point line.

When they run zone it is designed to do a couple of things – stagnate the offense, take sets away, and force shots taken in the least efficient spots – the high post and above the break 3s.

No real rules from what I could tell, but the major tweak the Trail Blazers use it to “ICE” the ballscreen when teams try to screen the zone.

The reason for this is because teams will try to ballscreen the top of the zone and create an overload situation to play 3 on 2 on the weakside.

So when the ballscreen is set and the Trail Blazers ICE it, the ball is kept on the sideline and forced away from the angle that they want to set it.

2-2-1 Into 2-3 Zone

After Time Out plays are so much fun. They can be more efficient and impactful than normal sets because they can be brand new so that a defense does not know which play is coming, unlike normal sets and calls that they can have scouted. Check out this play from the Suns – LOVE it.

The Trail Blazers take these sets away, as you can see here with the Suns just running ballscreen action – but mainly going to a 2-3 zone in After Time Out Situations and lining up in a 2-2-1 to slow them down even more.

Going 2-2-1 back into a 2-3 means the offense has to take time off the shot clock just to even setup, this means a play or action might start with 10-12 seconds left on the shot clock.

When shooting free throws they will also set up the 2-2-1 press, a scheme that is great because this is the next situation in which teams will set up plays and have time to call out sets to setup and run.

In total the Trail Blazers are doing a great job taking away teams After Time Out sets, currently ranking 4th in After Time Out defense, going primarily zone has really helped this.


🏀Resources:

Basketball Playbooks | Coaching Clinics | Coaching Membership | Newsletter

👉🏻Follow:

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram


When you are watching the NBA this season and anything stands out to you or you want to see included in these breakdowns let me know and I will include them! Thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.

Outwork Yesterday

Coach Pyper

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