Igor Kokoskov Fenerbahce After Time Out Specials
25+ After Time Out specials from one of the best basketball minds I have ever studied.
Igor Kokoskov has been on my radar and my coaching “watch” list (I will be releasing my watch list for NCAA teams before the season in a few weeks) that I use to study for my own personal playbook since the amazing 2017 EuroBasket run with Slovenia. I studied his playbook then, creating a clinic breakdown on his offense that he ran, and then continued to study his sets with the Jazz, Suns, Kings, and now with Fenerbahce. It was hard to tell when he was an assistant the specific sets and concepts he implemented vs the coaching staff and even with the Suns, I never thought he was able to truly showcase his X’s & O’s acumen.
Zipper Elevator Decoy Hammer
I have to start off with this set, which might be my favorite of the entire year - a trend that seems to happen once a year with Elevator Counters. This special is a counter to one of the most common run elevator plays that the Spurs have used since at least 2010 and that most teams will run some variation of. After the initial Zipper screen into an Elevator for the guard, the design is to pass to the player off the Iverson screen over the top on the wing. A couple of key points to this action is the player who passes it to the wing sprints into a ballscreen showing his fist (the universal signal for a ballscreen) to sell it and allow the reject to the baseline. The next point is that instead of setting the Hammer screen for the guard who ran through the elevator the play is set up for the top screener in the Elevator which created even more confusion. I absolutely LOVE this play.
AI Elbow Rip DHO
The most run special from this year’s playoffs designed to have a shooter set a backscreen and then come off a dribble handoff - is actually a Kokoskov original set he came up with. I spoke with a coach who told me the origin of this play and how Spoelstra saw it and stole it to use for Wayne Ellington and of course Duncan Robinson throughout this season. After starting with a guard coming off an Iverson screen over the top, the ball gets entered to the elbow to the big. The guard on the opposite block then sets a backscreen for the other player at the elbow then comes off a dribble handoff.
AI Out Gut Seal
One of the best ways to get the ball into the post for an easy finish is to have the player screen and seal - but especially in the middle of the floor. Ohio State did a great job last year using this set for Wesson to seal his man in the middle of the paint where the only defensive option is to play behind. Another Iverson entry, the opposite elbow then cuts to the wing and receives a pass from the guard who clears to the strongside corner. The big he wants to post up sets a middle (also called Gut in my terminology) pindown and then seals his man in the middle of the paint for a deep post up.
35 Empty Punch Strong
Originally saw this initial action from the Warriors, specifically looking to post up KD/Draymond and then trigger their split cut action. Kokoskov goes to “Strong” action or stagger action at the free-throw line and looking to get cutters and shooters open off the screening action. The main twist I really like is how the weakside guard sprints up for the second screen - similar to “Turn” action the Rockets use to flip the angle of the screen and prevent any switching.
A little wrinkle off the normal Chin ballscreen action where the player sets a backscreen then receives a ballscreen, the player who comes off the initial pindown flips it back to the point guard right after. As that player clears on the opposite side he receives a flare screen to occupy any help defenders, then the point guard comes off an Angled ballscreen that makes it harder to guard for his defender and the player who set the flare screen ends up open because his defender turned into the tag man on the roller.
Chin Pin Miami flare
Another counter off the Chin action, this time the player who sets the backscreen turns and sets a down screen for the player in the corner. Once the player comes off the down screen the point guard hands it off to him and then comes off a flare screen from the big. All of that action in one sequence makes it very difficult to defend.
Any team that runs Chin action has this Spain counter in their playbook. The player who comes off the backscreen then sets the backscreen for the big in Spain action which creates a lot of confusion. I like this action because normally in a backscreen that defender sags or zones up to prevent the layup off the backscreen - guaranteeing he will hedge late and sets up the Spain action perfectly.
Cross Punch Thunder
I love this set because it is action that is designed to disguise the actual set they are trying to run. The point guard cuts through and then comes off a cross screen for a post up - inverting the starting point of the set. After the post up the player who entered it comes off a flare screen, sometimes normal action to get a player a shot. Instead of looking to come off the flare screen for a score he reverse curls into the lane and sets a pindown for the big on the opposite block (think Triangle Offense staple), similar to this special from Frank Vogel.
Dive Double Exit
This set is similar to a double-cross screen set that we will look at below, out of the Dive series that teams like the Bucks and the Heat use all the time in ATO situations. In this example we see the guard get pushed into the lane and then come off a baseline double screen to exit out to the wing.
Going back to the dive action, instead this time the opposite big low sprints up for a ballscreen and then seals his man on the roll. This uses single tag or shake action to set this up and allow an easier post up look.
Against any team that hedges the ballscreen, most coaches will look to short the ballscreen to try and free up the roll man or create an advantage using the high ballscreen. In this example, the player who shorts the ballscreen in the porch has the pass deflected, but good action nonetheless.
Perhaps the most common way of getting the ball into the post is using a double cross screen with both guards getting the big coming off for an easier post look. The slight wrinkle here is to have the ball entered to the elbow then go into a hand off with some misdirection for the post up.
Ghost Knicks Flare
One of my favorite things to do is to have a weakside action during the ballscreen, a good example of this here. After the initial reversal flowing back into a ghost ballscreen, the big who reversed the ball is going to set a weakside flare screen to the opposite corner. The timing of this action is awesome and a good teaching point whenever you add action to the ballscreen.
Originally saw this set from Obradović & Fenerbahce as well as CSKA Moscow and learned a lot of the background of it from Itoudis himself, lots of actions out of Horns here. As the initial ballscreen is set the big then comes off a flare screen from the opposite elbow and the point guard goes into a handoff. Right after that, the big who set the flare screen sets a ballscreen for the player who comes off the handoff and creates single tag action after lots of movement and initial options the defense has to defend.
Horns Lob Flare Slip
A great set with multiple options out of Horns again, this was run by Spain during the 2019 FIBA World Cup and then the Raptors during the 2019-20 NBA Season. The first look is to set a ballscreen then come off a backscreen from the opposite elbow for a lob. If the lob option is covered, then the ball gets entered to the big in the middle of the floor. The player in the corner then sets a flare screen for the point guard and looks for the options to slip, hit the flare, and then go into side ballscreen/handoff action.
Horns Out Pistol Hammer
This is not a typical Horns alignment, but the guard is going to come off the big to the wing and receive the pass from the point guard. Flipping it right back in the pistol action, the guard comes off turning the corner downhill with a Hammer screen on the weakside.
Horns Thru Gut
To me, this could be a great counter to the normal Horns Flex action with the ball being passed to the elbow and the point guard cutting off the backscreen from the other big. Then the opposite elbow set a gut pindown into a dribble handoff (commonly referred to as Chicago action in my terms). Tough action to guard if you can execute it, I might have the initial screener replace to make it tougher on the defense.
Ram Spread Veer
Not by any means a special play, but this will likely be a play design that Kokoskov goes to more often since teams in Europe tend to hedge the ballscreen more. One of the ways to counter hedging is to screen for the screeners man trying to force a late hedge. Instead of setting the ballscreen the big sets a veer screen or a fake ballscreen into a pindown for the shooter.
Spin Backdoor Chase
I really like this spin action to trigger the basic start of the play, telling the other player when the action is starting. This first example is to spin sending the player in the middle into the lane and then looking for the corner man to cut backdoor. If the backdoor cut is not open then it flows into side secondary action.
Another counter out of this spin setup is to go right into a ballscreen that creates single tag or shake action.
Strong Boston Duck
I call this action “Strong Boston” for the first player curling the stagger screen, since this was go-to action from the 2008-11 Celtics as well as Brad Stevens early on for the end of games. This ofcourse is a staple of Davidson’s Offense and something I will break down in depth once I get to the Davidson breakdown. After the player coming off the screen
Strong Boston Flip Lob
This set is pretty RIDICULOUS in my opinion and another great example of decoy action with multiple options. The entire goal of this play is to set up a lob out of the normal strong action originally run by D’Antoni with the Rockets. Initially, it starts off with the Strong Boston action on one side and then flows into the Stagger action on the opposite side. This sets up the lob action from the other guard and it an awesome example of the creativity of Kokoskov although this play was stopped.
Strong Boston Flip Step Back
A common set run by most NBA teams and influenced by Nick Nurse and the Raptors, after the Strong Boston action the first screener comes off to flip it back to the point guard. The second screener sets a ballscreen for the point guard then sets a throwback screen for the first screener.
Strong Clear Spread
Using the Strong action as the setup, the player who comes off this clears to the wing then the big sets a ballscreen for the guard and another great way to disguise single tag action.
Strong Flip Keep Gap
This is a designed ISO set for a guard on the wing, a simple setup that the Celtics have used in Brad Stevens playbook. After the Strong screen, the guard fakes a handoff back to the point guard then throws it to the wing for the player to catch and attack quickly.
Thru Carolina leak Hammer
A Spurs staple, the Hammer play starting off with a backscreen for the big like the normal Carolina fastbreak, then leaking out to the wing for a pass. The big who received the backscreen then sets a Hammer screen on the weak side for a shot - even though this was a turnover it is good action.
Thru Chicago Spain
The best coaches seem to always use the “Thru” series sending the point guard through to the middle of the lane and cutting to the opposite wing. Kokoskov uses this to have his point guard come off Chicago action flowing into Spain action setting the backscreen for the ballscreener.
Thru Miami Spain
Almost an exact copy of this play in several ways, the point guard cutting through stops in the middle of the thru cut and becomes the back screener in the Spain action. The big in the middle of the floor goes into a handoff then is followed by a ballscreen creating that Spain action. A great quick counter to the Chicago action and does not allow teams to scout these plays.
We looked at the special posting up the guard and screening low for the big opposite, but even just looking to post up the point guard out of their Thru series having him come back off the cross-screen for a post up.
Wedge Lift Cross
If you watched the NBA Finals or paid any attention to the Lakers you should recognize this set immediately. However, the difference with Fenerbahce running it is to create the single tag action by having the player coming off the exit screen for a shooting action instead of the cross-screen for an Anthony Davis post up.
I really hope you enjoyed this breakdown and some of the best sets from Igor Kokoskov. Here is the updated schedule for Coach’s Cut moving forward - things could change based on what the NBA decides to announce their schedule, but these are my plans for the next month:
11/8 - Ja Morant ROY Breakdown
11/15 - Chris Paul’s Basketball IQ
11/22 - Favorite NCAA Offenses Breakdown - Villanova/Davidson/Creighton/Kansas & Others
11/29 - Jayson Tatum Breakdown
Enjoy your week!