There has been a lot of talk recently about the Washington Wizards and how they've been able to not only cope with but actually flourish without injured guard Gilbert Arenas who had averaged close to 30 ppg the last couple of years but was lost just 8 games into this season. In fact, I was watching ESPN the other night and they were talking about how the Wizards Princeton offense worked so much better without Gilbert Arenas.

I didn't even know the Wizards ran a Princeton offense. I assumed like many non-Wizards fans that they probably just ran iso sets for their 3 star players, Arenas, Butler and Jamison. So, I was on a mission tonight to watch the Wizards and see their much hailed Princeton offense without their top scorer Arenas, here are just a few clips from the second half against Memphis,

The offense is really a series of dribble weave handoffs combined with basket cuts and proper spacing. They get a lot of open looks with all the motion and counter motion.

Dribble Handoff to Give and Go:

The Wizards almost always start every single half-court set with a dribble handoff. I really like the dribble handoff for a number of reasons. Firstly it's safe and rarely results in a turnover, as opposed to the normal wing entry to a standing player which can be easily picked off. Secondly, most teams defend the dribble handoff by going underneath. If you are a good 3-point shooting team, this is an easy way to get quick uncontested 3-pointers (which the Wizards do a lot of).

They start in a 4-out 1-in look, this gives the Wizards great spacing for backdoor looks, dribble penetration and 3-point shooting, spacing is key here. They execute the dribble handoff from top to wing. O5 comes up to the high post elbow.

Once the handoff occurs, O2 passes it back to O1 on the wing. O5 comes and sets the UCLA upscreen for O2 who cuts hard to the basket, O1 finds O2 for the easy lay in.


The Wizards don't really run a traditional Princeton offense. The only part of it that is Princeton-based really is the basket cuts and give and gos. The Wizards are getting contributions from guys like DeShawn Stevenson and rookie Nick Young and they easily go 8 or 9 deep each and every night. That depth was on full display in the recent back-to-back wins over the Celtics a couple of weeks ago.

If you are looking for video info on a Princeton-based offense similar to this one that Navy uses, check out Joe Scott's DVD on the Fundamental building Blocks of the Princeton Offense. Coach Scott is the current head coach at Denver and used to be the head coach at Air Force and Princeton, both 5-out teams. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.