As is so often the case in basketball, coaches are always borrowing things from other coaches and implementing them with their own teams. While checking out The Xs & Os of Basketball message boards, I came across a thread looking for information NBA assistant coach Dave Severns “Pistol” offense – a name which I associate with BYU and Dave Rice – so I dove in and found a simple early offense series that allows players to read the defense for quick baskets early in a possession.
Within the message board thread there was a link to a YouTube video of Coach Severns at the 2015 Northern Arizona University Coaches Clinic where the current Clippers assistant runs through what they call their “Hurry Up Offense.” This series has five options, with four of them being player reads and just one being a call from the coach. Coach Severns says that many teams will use it throughout a game, but they choose to go to it in spurts while trailing or when they want to change the pace of the game.
Below I will be going through the four reads. You can find the “At” coach call at the 27:50 mark of the video.
The first read of the series comes from the point guard and one of the wing players. The players sprint up the floor with the wings wide to the corners and the “4” and “5” trailing the ball along the lane lines. The wings sprint the sideline and the ball-side wing button hooks just inside the three-point arc looking for a hit-ahead pass.
The point guard follows their pass by sprinting for a handoff from the wing. BREAKDOWN DRILL: Run the CHASE action with a hand off 2v0.
Once the handoff is executed, the trailing big sets a flare screen for the wing and follows with a wing ball screen. The ball handler can now attack the middle with options to score, drive & kick for the three, or hit the big rolling. BREAKDOWN: Run CHASE action 3v0, hit all three options for a basket.
On a drive & kick, the pass to the top activates the weak-side players with a pin-down screen to free the wing player from the corner. The wing has the option to catch and shoot or hit a pocket pass to the big off the pin-down screen. BREAKDOWN: Run CHASE action 5v0 through both weak side options.
The second read of the series comes from the wing player after catching the hit-ahead pass from the point guard. As the point guard follows their pass for the handoff, the wing reads whether or not to make the handoff. If they KEEP, they front pivot and go right into a ball screen from the trailing ball-side big. After coming off the ball screen, ball handler has option to pull up, hit the roll man, or drive and kick to point guard who will lift from the corner (“Shake” action). BREAKDOWN: Run KEEP action 3v0 with ball screen for jumper, roll for layup, and jumper from SHAKE.
The ball screen at the top activates the weak side pin down. As a rule, any ball screen action activates this pin down. Receiver can catch & shoot or pocket pass to the big. BREAKDOWN: Run KEEP action 5v0 through both weak side options.
The third read of the series is made by the point guard and is based on whether or not the defense is denying the button hook hit-ahead pass. If the pass is not available, the point guard gets a ball screen from the wing player and dribbles off of it. The wing releases their screen and receives the flare screen from the trailing big, who then follows with a low ball screen for the point guard. From here, the point guard and score, hit the roll man, or drive & kick for the three. BREAKDOWN: Run DRIBBLE action through all three options.
As has been the case throughout this series, the low ball screen activates the weak side pin down action. Receiver can catch & shoot or pocket pass to the big. BREAKDOWN: Run DRIBBLE action 5v0 through both weak side options.
The fourth and final read of this series is made by the point guard and is based, once again, on whether or not the button hook pass is being denied. If it is, the point guard can hit the trailing big man and run off a back screen from the ball side wing player. The first look is the over-the-top-pass for lay up. BREAKDOWN: Run DOWN action 3v0 for over-the-top layup.
If the over-the-top pass isn’t there, the big will dribble at the wing for a dribble handoff/pitch. This mirrors the ball screen action of dribble. The wing player gets the handoff and has the option to attack, hit the roll, or hit the point guard who is now lifting from the ball side corner (“Shake”). BREAKDOWN: Run DRIBBLE action 3v0 through all three ball-side options.
Because the handoff is accomplishing the same thing as the ball screens throughout this series, the handoff also activates the weak-side pin-down action. The ball handler now has the additional option of hitting the weak side wing out of the pin-down. From there, the wing can shoot or hit the big for a pocket pass. BREAKDOWN: Run DRIBBLE 5v0 through both weak-side options.
For coaches who, like me, believe that basketball is a game of reading and reacting, this structured set of reads puts the decision-making in the hands of athletes. If the actions are run correctly, players can play with confidence knowing exactly where the next look is. Building that level of comfort takes time, but once achieved you will have yourself an extremely fast and effective early offense.
Featured photo courtesy of Flickr/Phil Roeder
All diagrams made by Jimmy Kelley using FastModel’s FastDraw Basketball software