NBA 5-Out Offense: Wide
A breakdown of the Wide or Single action used by NBA teams in their 5-Out offense.
The NBA has switched over to running 5-Out as their main offensive system with the space & pace aspects of modern basketball shaping the way possessions unfold. While this is not the exact system that every single team runs, the evolution of the Spurs offense combined with Mike Budenholzer’s offensive genius has created this go-to action.
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San Antonio Spurs Motion Strong
Most of the NBA’s offense has had concepts influenced by or taken directly from the Spurs motion or Phil Jackson’s Triangle offense. The San Antonio Spurs Motion Strong was designed around Tim Duncan and the ability of the Spurs to post up and play 4 around 1 player in the post. It flowed from their break with a ball reversal and then the point guard or handler and the trail man setting a double stagger screen for the player in the corner.
The player posting up after the rim run will then follow the ball looking for the ball, still maintaining the 4 out 1 in look.
San Antonio Spurs & Atlanta Hawks Single Down
The San Antonio Spurs’ motion offense needs its own separate post series for all of the reads and counters that were built in and the freedom that they played with, but one of the main reads was the “Single Down” read. If the ball side (typically referred to as strongside) corner is empty then the stagger screen becomes a single screen.
This can also be a read when the player who is coming off the stagger or strong action rejects or refuses it and cuts to the ball-side corner, creating this “Single Down” read.
Atlanta Hawks Thru Single Down
When Mike Budenholzer took over the Atlanta Hawks he primarily used the Spurs motion offense as his offense as well, leading them to the 5th best offense in the NBA during the 14-15 season (CTG). Having Kyle Korver on the roster allowed him to design this Single Down action with a Thru entry from the point guard.
Atlanta Hawks 2017-18 Offense
In Mike Budenholzer’s last season in Atlanta, he was able to experiment with his offense and defensive system since they would not be competitive during the season. This is when the Hawks went to a 5-Out system and used the same concepts as the Spurs and Budenholzer’s.
One of the main concepts that Budenholzer used for Kyle Korver was their “One” screen or call to set a quick pindown screen, extremely lethal in transition. While primarily a 4-Out or a quick wide pindown we could see scenarios of it working in transition 5-Out.
The adjustment that Budenholzer made during his final year with the Hawks was to remove the post player after a rim run or attack and have them relocate out to the corner. This created the 5-Out look that every team in the NBA is using, with the same Single Down actions as before but with more space for reads and a tougher coverage for the defense.
Milwaukee Bucks & “Wide” Playcall
For the record, I do know of some play calls that coaches in the NBA use and I have some official NBA/NCAA playbooks and call sheets but I never share any of that information publicly. All of the calls and plays I find by the broadcast or that are shared publicly already, and the reason I call this “Wide” is from the clip below we can hear Budenholzer on the broadcast call it out.
So even though this may have been called something different in 2017-18, this is why I will be using “Wide” as the term for this action and have used it for the past few years. Here is the compilation of the Atlanta Hawks “Wide” or "Single Down” from the 2017-18 season.
The mechanics of the play are simple, spread the court in 5-Out then reverse the ball to the trailing big from wing to wing, and then the trailer sets a screen in the middle of the floor for a guard to come off looking to catch downhill.
Previous to this season, this action is run with a ball reversal into the screen in the middle of the floor, but the other option is to run it as the point guard dribbles up the floor.
This action becomes extremely tough to guard when it is run in early offense when the defense is not set - an action that has become a staple of NBA Early Offense.
We will look at the counters and multiple options out of this base action over the next few breakdowns, but the most common action once there is no clear advantage after the screen is to flow into a spread ballscreen.
Some teams have started to add this action directly to their sideline out-of-bounds package, look for Indiana Pacers under Carlisle, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls & Charlotte Hornets to run this.
A popular read for smarter and quicker point guards is to use this action as a decoy to get downhill for a layup - another benefit of running this action out of 5-Out. This is hard to defend since the two defenders in the middle of the floor are occupied with defending the screen, the strongside corner is taught to never help so it leaves the low defender 1 on 1 to either help and leave a corner 3 or allow a layup.
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