NBA 5-Out Offense: Spacing
A primer for the NBA 5-Out Offense series of breakdowns running throughout October.
For the month of October leading into the beginning of the regular season, we will be breaking down all of the aspects of 5-Out Offense in the NBA. 5-Out Offenses have become more and more commonplace with a majority of teams running it as their primary attack. In this first breakdown, we are going to focus on offensive spacing concepts and principles that NBA teams build their 5-Out Offenses around. I am using these as general rules and ideas, but not sharing specific things and terms that I have learned from coaches. For the preseason we are running a 50% off sale - subscribe below!
The 2022 Preseason sale is back! With the start of the NBA season coming up, there is a 50% off sale for the Preseason - use the link below!
Note: if you are reading this in the e-mail-only form some of the gifs and videos do not always show up correctly.
In general, 5-Out spacing offers the main advantage of clearing out the paint and allows for easier finishing and harder rotations on defense. Basic 5-Out by itself does not always create the most space for driving lanes since the defense can typically help one “gap” away and make the drives either slower or non-existent. We will talk about actions and ways the offense creates cutting opportunities to combat this style of defense, but being able to maintain good spacing is important after those actions occur. One of the principles that we use in high school, but is something I have taken directly from NBA is the “Quadrant Rules” for spacing.
The rule is simple, no more than 2 players at a time in any quadrant - no matter what offense you are running. In 5-Out this is especially important because any moment the offense is not spaced properly the defense will be able to have more of an impact on clogging and slowing down any advantages. This is not the most important rule for NBA since they have talent that can make plays 1 on 1, but it is still a principle that great ball & player movement teams like the Warriors & Spurs use and have thrived on in the past.
Offense is Spacing & Spacing is Offense
Chuck Daly is credited with this quote, but I originally heard it from Villanova and Jay Wright when studying his 4-Out (Now 5-Out) offense. The entire idea of constantly putting pressure on the defense through correct and efficient spacing is what NBA teams thrive on. If you can space the floor correctly, become a threat from the 3 point line, and have an IQ to read the defense you can make millions of dollars and have a lengthy career in the NBA.
The most common spacing areas you will see are the Corner & the 45-degree marker (which we will come back to shortly) that will be filled every possession. Knowing that these will almost always be filled opposite allows for easier decision making and reads
If you listened to anything Monty Williams has said since taking over the Phoenix Suns you know he has used the phrase “.5” when talking about offense constantly. This was something I had learned about from the Spurs, especially during their ball movement-heavy 2014 season. The .5 concept is now used by most coaches who want to emphasize ball movement (Alabama/Memphis in college use this often), and quick decision making.
One of the most common cuts in NBA 5-Out offenses is the “45” cut to space and punish the help defense. Using the 45-degree marker when a big or guard pick and pops the opposite wing will cut backdoor behind the stunting help defender.
One Mores & Split-Kick-Extra
If you come into any practice or workout I am running, the number one word or phrase you are going to hear is “advantage” and the second most heard phrase is “One More.” I have taken this directly from NBA coaching friends and staff that focus on creating an advantage and when you do, if help comes find an open man and then look for the one more or extra passes.
A good article showcasing some of these concepts can be found here. A good example of what 5-Out spacing combined with “One More” willing passers can create from the Small-Ball Rockets:
Next breakdown we will look at the most common action in 5-Out NBA Offenses - “Wide” action.