Offensive execution is schematic point-conversion – manufacturing shot-selection into points on the scoreboard.

With the increasing value for analytics in today’s game, coaches are being trained in the comprehension of high-value scoring coming from free-throws, lay-ups, and three-point field goals.

Consider today’s style of play, ‘Pace & Space’ or ‘Drive & Kick’ being the universal base offense. The idea is to surround the three-point line with shooters to take advantage of the additional point opportunity, or create enough spacing to stretch the defense opening wider driving lanes for lay-ups.

Now, consider in a previous era when post-up play had a tactical presence in the game. Beyond the dominant athletes that could bully their way to two-points, what was the reasoning to go into the post? Remember, offenses target three ways to score: free-throws, lay-ups, and three-point field goals. It could be argued that more free throw attempts come from shots within 3-feet. Higher percentage scoring occurs within 3-feet of the basket. And defenses tend to collapse when the ball is entered into the post creating more spacing for inside-out scoring opportunities (not to mention higher field goal percentages from those situations). Coaches were looking for similar results in the past, just through a different means to an end.

lnverting your offense can merge the strengths of both eras – contemporary and post. Offensive scheme will never change in premise – finding the best strategy that leads to the most points. As the game stretches, today’s playmakers tend to come from the perimeter. Why not use those same perimeter players in post-up situations? Analytical coaching still suggests the highest-value for scoring comes from free-throws, layups, or three-point field goals. Practical coaching would infer getting the ball to your best playmaker as often as possible.

  • Which positional players tend to have the best free-throw shooting percentages?
  • Which positional players tend to have the best footwork, or comfort using either hand to score?
  • Which defenders have the least experience or desire to defend in the post?
  • Which positional players tend to have the best court vision seeing collapsing defenders?

On the flip side, things to consider to be a disadvantage:

  • Perimeter players don’t have much experience in the post – can lack patience, positioning, and spacial awareness with back to the basket.
  • Mentioned patience, perimeter players love being the “mouse in the house” and can throw decision-making out the window to merely shoot out of convenience
  • Perimeter players tend to be shorter putting them at a slight disadvantage from a probability standpoint – longer distance to the rim, more room for error (increased when contested)
  • Inverting personnel can place non-shooters on the perimeter limiting spacing or scoring threat

Inverting offense doesn’t necessarily mean turn a perimeter athlete into a post position. Coaches likely aren’t looking for an offense that revolves around undersized guards surrounding the rim. Think of post-up opportunities similar to a boxer taking their opponent to the body in attempt to have their hands drop; or in volleyball setting the middle of the floor to open up the outside pins. Basketball defenders naturally gravitate to the flow of the game – puncture the paint to collapse the defense so the perimeter will open up. There are different ways to integrate perimeter-to-post situations via scripted sets or through the natural flow of an offense. These are some different concepts to invert your offense for playmakers that can lead to high-value scoring opportunities.


Start in Transition

For those that might have seen the recent NCAA National Championship (2018) between Villanova and Michigan, you may have recognized Villanova point-guard Jalen Brunson consistently starting the offense by dribbling his defender into the post.

Image: Screenshot from Synergy Sports Technology – Villanova vs. Texas Tech Final Four (2018)

Early offense can be some of the best times to score. Opportunist, Jalen Brunson would initiate Villanova’s offense on multiple occasions by clearing out the strong side and begin to back his defender down towards the rim. Throughout the season he finished with a total of 1.21 points per possession converting 28 field goals out of 45 field-goal attempts (“Synergy Sports Analytics”).

‘First Down’

Many coaches utilize a rim-runner during primary transition offense. The ‘First-Down’ concept allows the first player down the floor sprint to the rim to score on the run, or possibly establish position closer to the basket for an immediate post-entry.

Flow into the Offense 

The transition from primary break to secondary can naturally flow into immediate opportunities to get playmakers in the post.

‘Delay’

A pass back to the trailer with a balanced floor creates the spacing for either side to start 2-man actions, or against overplaying defenses counter with a backdoor toward the rim. Either attack can put perimeter personnel immediately towards the rim allowing for positioning in the paint for a post-entry.

“Playmaker Spot”

Similar to coaches that refer to the “Dead-Spot” for traditional post-players following their rim-run. If coaches were to incorporate a “First-Down” primary break, the player could naturally flow into what is deemed the “Playmaker Spot” toward the short corner. This would get the ball into the hands of a playmaker with a shorter distance to attack and putting immediate pressure on the defense to thwart any possible paint-touch.

“Mouse”

In the natural progression of any motion offense ‘Mouse’ could be utilized to take advantage of any recognized mismatch. Following a basket-cut an offensive player could look to turn and seal for post position. With defenders usually looking to relax off the ball following a basket-cut there are opportunities for players to establish prime position in the paint that can lead to no-dribble baskets.

Simple Sets to Consider

Shuffle Actions 

A lot of versatility to this action, as coaches can use this for quick-hitters scoring off the shuffle-screen or isolation opportunities.

Horns/Elbow Flex

Can be used in continuity or as an entry to get a perimeter player cutting off a cross-screen into the paint. Can be a double-edged sword with this action, as you will likely have a taller passer to see the cut from the corner but could be inexperienced to get the ball where it needs to go.

UCLA Action 

As traditional as it comes likely out of a 1-4 High structure. This is a great action to possibly lead to better off-the ball scoring opportunities. An entry into the post with possible weak-side cutting leading to high percentage shots.

“Spain” Action

Starting to see more perimeter players getting involved in ballscreens. This type of action is commonly used at the professional levels, particularly coming from overseas. While, this action doesn’t necessarily lead to post touches, it does invert the offense by putting smaller defenders in ballscreen situations.

Superstars drive the professional game of basketball, so running offense through the post with guys like Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul gives them the opportunity to make the best play given that shot-altering defenders can only stay in the lane for three-seconds. At the collegiate level with shooters becoming the commodity, this is a different way to collapse the defense to open up the perimeter while simultaneously getting a paint-touch high percentage shot selection. And at the interscholastic level programs will vary in size and talent, this could be a great way to take advantage of a potential mismatch or get the ball in the hands of your best playmaker.

Inverted offensive action a different way to get the ball into the hands of some of your best players. Like any situation; getting the ball doesn’t mean you have to score, it means you get the opportunity to make the right play. At the end of the day, as coaches, we are all looking for the same result – score more points than the other team.

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