I wrote earlier about Rip Hamilton and the Art of Getting Open. I watched the first half of the Detroit Pistons game tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats and what I love about the Pistons is how they use all the different screens to get their shooters open looks. After all, if you have great shooters, you need to be able to get them the ball in open space to take advantage of their shooting abilities. Ball screens are great for slashers, but for pure shooters, they need to catch and shoot in space. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Setup, Curl Screen:

One of the key principles that I believe in is to receive the wing, or in this case the top of the key pass off of a flex screen or some kind of low screen where the player is meeting the ball as opposed to standing there. Here Tayshaun Prince explodes out of the corner curling around Rasheed Wallace to receive the pass from Chauncey Billups.

After Tayshuan receives the pass, Rip Hamilton immediately does an l-cut and curls around Maxille from low to high and cuts across the lane along the free-throw line looking for the quick pass from Tayshuan and a mid-range pullup. At the same time, Chauncey comes off a butt-screen (backwards screen using your butt) from Rasheed Wallace, and cuts across the lane low-side.

Flare Screen:

From here, O5 sets a screen for Chauncey cutting across the lane horizontally. What Chauncey does here is key, he fakes like he's going to to the free-throw extended wing. But instead, he flares to the wing-corner.

In the video you can clearly see the Bobcats defender bite on the Chauncey fake and get caught over the top. The pass from Tayshaun to Billups is perfect, right in his hands chest high, he catches and shoots the 3-pointer. About as perfect as you could as for if you are a pure shooter. Catch and shoot in space.


If you have great shooters, use them. Set stagger screens, screen and re-screen action to spring them open. I know some coaches and teams are reluctant to do so. I often hear, "I'm not going to design a specific play for a shooter, I want them to drive to the basket." Excessive shooting is seen as a bad thing. But I can tell you that shooting is a talent equalizer. If your team isn't as athletic and doesn't have the size of other teams, you need to develop shooters and you need to shoot a high percentage to be competitive. Against a bigger and more athletic team, you won't be able to pound the ball inside, you can't play over top of them, and you sure as heck aren't going to outrun them. You have to shoot the ball.

If you think about the difference between the European teams and Team USA, you see the fundamental difference in shooting. All the Europeans can shoot, big men, small men. They don't have the athleticism to play the vertical and running game, so they slow it down, force you to play half-court and shoot the lights out.

Shooting is a talent equalizer. Raw athleticism is something that you are born with, you either have it or you don't, you can't exactly develop the next Vince Carter. Shooting on the other hand can be developed. Anyone can develop into a good shooter, all it requires is practice. A perfect example is Jeff Hornacek or JJ Redick, neither are particularly athletic players, but both can shoot the lights out.

A really good shooting video you might want to consider is Steve Smith's DVD on team shooting. Coach Smith is the head coach of Oak Hill Academy, the prep school powerhouse featuring famous alum such as Jerry Stackhouse and Carmelo Anthony. Also be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.