I just read these today after going through the links of the day. They are from Zak Boisvert, who is a Student Manager for the men's basketball team at Fordham University. He's setup a twitter account where he posts daily chalkboard breakdowns. The one he posted on Friday was great. He broke down one of the main plays the New York Knicks like to run out of their SSOL offense (Seven Seconds or Less). It's very similar to european ball-screen concepts that I've seen. Without further ado, here they are, I'll add my own comments at the end.

“drive-thru handoff” ball screen concept

While not technically a ball screen, the Knicks use it much like a ball screen and their usage of the concept (along with another ball screen concept I will highlight next Friday) has increased greatly in the 7 games since acquiring Tracy McGrady as a way to get T-Mac and David Lee in a 2-man game situation.

The action occurs, much like nearly everything else D’Antoni runs, in a spread alignment with 4 perimeter players surrounding 1 post. 2 (McGrady) has the ball on the right wing and 5 (Lee) flashes to the midpoint of the free throw line for a catch. 2 hits 5 and immediately follows his pass. The opportunities from this point are limitless.

The majority of the time, McGrady (2) will be able to free himself from his man enough to receive the handoff and drive the lane either for a score or a drive-and-kick opportunity for the player situated in the left corner.

As the game progresses and the defense begins to jump out and hedge the handoff (treating it like a ball screen), there are opportunities for Lee to fake the handoff and instead drive the ball hard to his right as his defender (x5) anticipates the handoff.

An option that the Knicks have been running in the second half of games that I really like is done with the 1 in the strong side corner as 2 hits to 5 on his post flash. With the defense seeing the “drive-thru” action a couple of times, x2 adjusts accordingly and doesn’t allow 2 to come off clean for a handoff while x5 is in correct hedge position if 2 is able to receive handoff while being ready to guard 5’s drive. 2 cuts off 5 (not receiving the handoff) and goes through as 1 lifts to the right wing spot 2 just vacated. 5 hits 1 and sprints into a ball screen for 1 (setting it on the butt of x1 to offer the best possible driving angle for 1).

My comments:

I think a lot is predicated on O5 being able to make the right decisions. A big man who is a good passer, able to put it on the floor, and is quick enough to chase the ball into ball screens. A lot of teams don't have a versatile O5 like that which would make it difficult to run.

As for defending it, I would hedge out on O2, but also I would trap O5 on the catch once in a while. If the offense has a versatile dominant O5, then I would allow O2 to catch the handoff, and bring help from the weak side (X3 or X4) and leave one of those free (assuming neither O3 or O4 are good shooters).

For more video info on ball-screening offenses, take a look at Todd Kowalczyk's DVD on the Attacking Ball Screen. Coach Kowalczyk is the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.


  1. Poker Gods  

    March 8, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    Great stuff! I run the 4 out 1 in as my primary set. Thanks for posting.